International Retail Rollout
An exciting opportunity was offered to Converse, to expand their retail presence with their own product walls in JD Sports stores. Converse approached creative agency Rosie Lee to develop creative concept designs for their walls, and Rosie Lee asked Impact to support on the design development, materials, final aesthetics and generally bringing their retail design to life.
The direction from Converse was to elevate the JD retail space by transforming the Converse walls into an inspiring destination. The retail display needed to bring their iconic product stories to life through carefully crafted storytelling and exceptional product presentation. It also had to be understandable and easy to shop. With these features, Converse wanted shoppers to be immersed in the presentation and enjoy focused product moments.
Keywords for the deliverables were: raw, irreverent, authentic, playful, iconic, bold. The focus was to allow density in stock but let the product breathe and ultimately tell less stories, better. Sustainability was key to the design and all materials used. Any creative concepts also had to align to Converse guidelines and work within JD guidelines at the same time.
Rosie Lee imagined two distinctive approaches, one a black powder-coated metal for men and another a flat grey metal for women for two separate authentic looks that are simple yet bold by design, with the base construction staying the same for brand continuity.
The header of the display places the brand’s iconic logo fully illuminated to give bold brand presence. Illuminations behind the shoes add to the standout and excitement for shopper when interacting with the display.
In flagship stores individual product shelves frame an LED screen to present aspirational product videos, intended to give the display playful character and elevate engagement. In other stores this was instead a stretched canvas graphic within a lightbox, illuminating the graphic to give premium standout.
Below the screen or graphic are double shelves designed as ‘feature’ shelves, constructed with scaffolding poles for a pared-back ‘raw’ yet ‘irreverent’ look and labelled with bold shoe names to give hero product standout.
We provided a variety of graphics and the screens are updateable, giving stores the flexibility to choose their local bestseller or whichever shoe they wish to highlight to localise and optimize their sales messages to make visual merchandising relevant for their local consumers.
The design intended to keep the brand space minimal and clean with pared-back colours and materials, and pure illuminations supporting the product and storytelling space, allowing these to be the focus. An open display is easy to navigate and puts products at the customer’s fingertips to make it easy to interact with and shop.
The biggest challenge in the project was to create an eye-catching yet flexible design in an environment which uses many illuminations and screens.
The brief from Converse specified for the wall bays to be simple and mobile so store staff could insert them themselves or so they could be moved to different locations of the store in future. Rosie Lee had produced the aspirational design to meet the brief and it was up to Impact to ensure this could be built exactly in this way while also meeting the functionality objectives.
To achieve this, the design is modular in three parts: a two-part main merchandise area and an illuminated header allowing for movement and ease of handling. Each element of the structure is constructed in a way that it does not exceed the recommended weight for a one person lift, plus the unit can be disassembled and relocated without the use of tools.
This flexibility requirement of the unit posed a challenge for the electronics and wiring, yet we overcame this by innovating and incorporating a “plug and play” system. This innovation means the electronics can simply and safely be plugged and unplugged by the store staff.
As a result of this the unit can safely be removed and relocated within the store by the retailer’s team and not require the additional costs of a specialist team to revisit each time a move is required.
After collaborating on the development, we manufactured the display inhouse and oversaw the logistics and installation for the project. These Converse wall units were to be displayed in JD Sports across several countries, firstly, in UK and Europe. A complex operation in normal times, we found ourselves with the added challenges of a global pandemic and associated with ‘Brexit’.
We absolutely had to be adaptable to ensure this retail project was a success, adapting to and overcoming the different restrictions and lockdowns across each country, as well as the varying local restrictions in the UK. This made the project quite stop-start as regions opened and then closed again and we had to be quick to respond.
We worked effectively with teams across countries in Paris, Berlin, Nice, Brussels, and Dublin to ensure the installations ran smoothly and were finally ready when stores were able to open their doors to shoppers again.
Converse incorporate ‘Renew’ thinking into all their projects and it was vital to uphold these sustainability values within this retail project. The Renew ethos aims to fuel sustainable innovation and extend the lifecycle of products. This ensures that all Converse projects consciously use materials which are environmentally friendly and long-lasting in their durability, or that can be recycled or upcycled easily.
In this case, we also had to adhere to the JD material palette of metals, high-shine plastics and illuminations. Therefore, we used metalwork in each Converse display that is recyclable and graphics that are PVC-free. With our capability to source materials locally and assemble the displays inhouse, we were also able to reduce mileage, keeping sustainability in mind at all times.
The final, impeccable retail display meets the Converse brief in both its impactful aesthetics and its ability to be as sophisticated as competitor fixed-wall units, even with the challenges that were posed with the need for flexibility.
The success of the retail technology means the unit can be both functional and excite customers and engage them in an immersive brand moment that is simple to shop with.
The first installation in Paris was received extremely well by the brands and consumers, with Converse successfully being a top seller on the opening weekend of the new store.