3 questions to … Tom van Soest, Visual Retailing BV


Visual merchandising processes are not that easy to plan. A better in-store customer experience can be achieved through automated planograms that lead to a better sell-through. Tom van Soest explains in the short interview how to create a consistent brand identity with digital mock-ups.

Foto: Tom van Soest; copyright: Visual Retailing

Tom van Soest, Director Visual Retailing B.V. ; © Visual Retailing

Mr. van Soest, where do you see recurring difficulties that retailers face when planning?

Tom van Soest: Too often we face visual merchandising guidelines that aren’t relevant enough to a certain store size or cluster, meaning that the in-store merchandisers don’t find the right fixture, product or PoS material. This can be caused by miscommunication and lack of efficient collaboration between teams. Easy to understand guidelines that are communicated effectively are crucial when it comes to visual merchandising.

Ineffective communication methods from store to head or regional office tend to be a very common problem for example one store might be using a phone messaging app to send an image of a merchandised fixture whilst others may use email. This is a bad idea from a compliance perspective as head office doesn’t have the information in one single space/platform. Next, poor processes lead to lack of "freed up time" for individuals - and poor collaboration between teams harms the planning further.

Visual Retailing helps retailers create digital mock-ups of their stores. How do they create a consistent brand identity?

van Soest: Creating a digital mock-up of a store doesn’t create a consistent brand identity alone. The idea behind it is that by having a digital mockup of a store created, it’s possible to digitally merchandise different sized ones for each cluster - without having to spend money on a physical mock up store. The digital aspect ensures all sorts of vital information about the products is present in the system, helping create automated planograms, analyzing space details, running reports based on almost any criteria and much more.

But the use of digital mock up tools, automating and visualizing things where possible, is only one part of creating a consistent brand identity.  A full integration of digital tools means they can be used in different parts of the retail planning process - for example a buyer may have ordered an upcoming collection without proper collaboration and planning of store density with a visual merchandiser, so tools that assist in this collaboration are vital. Next, without software to create an automated planogram or analyze the product range simply, the visual merchandiser is left with less time to do what they do best: creating great in-store experiences.

EuroShop 2017 is approaching: what might we expect from you?

van Soest: In our strive to integrate head and regional office with stores we will introduce a number of new cloud based offerings - bridging the gap between field teams and head office. Stay tuned as the future of retail planning and visual merchandising will be revealed at EuroShop 2017.

Interview: Melanie Günther; EuroShop.com