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A Design Date with Odel

By Raghu Krishnan | July 23, 2013

Aldrin Gamage, the Creative head of Odel, one of the largest chains of departmental stores in Sri Lanka shares the strategy behind the store's VM and design.

Odel - one of the largest chains of departmental stores in Sri Lanka loves to surprise its customers every time they walk into the store. This is done through attractive store design; introducing freshness into the graphics and imagery inside the store and doing a complete rehaul during special occasions like Christmas. VM&RD gets into the what's and how's of the Odel store designs from none other than Aldrin Gamage, the Creative head of Odel. Excerpt from the interview.


What  is  the  thought  behind  the  retail store design at Odel?
 

the Odel stores across all formats are designed keeping  in  mind  two  aspects  -   to  make  it exciting  and  saleable. the  aim  is  to  surprise the customer every time he or she visits the store. there  is  a  wow  factor  when  you  walk into  the  store. so  it's  a  pleasant  surprise  - especially  for  tourists  when  they  walk  in through a very old fashioned building to see a store that takes their breath away. On the visual merchandising front, we make it a point to change things constantly. We have a strong local customer base that shops with us once or twice a week. so it's important for us to remain fresh and attractive. One  thing  that  is  constant  with  Odel throughout  the  year  is  change  -   right  from the display units to the way the merchandise is presented, the graphics and imagery of the various departments. We strive to create separate zones for our inhouse brands. For instance the LUV sL (range of sovereigns depicting sri Lanka) has a totally different look that depicts sri Lanka in all its glory. it's more traditional and warm. On the other hand the embark zone (in house range of animal t-shirts) tells the story through visuals, Odel - one of the largest chains of departmental stores in Sri Lanka loves to surprise its customers every time they walk into the store. This is done through attractive store design; introducing freshness into the graphics and imagery inside the store and doing a complete rehaul during special occasions like Christmas.

VM&RD gets into the what's and how's of the Odel store designs from none other than Aldrin Gamage, the Creative head of Odel. Excerpt from the interview. A Design Date with Odel Aldrin Gamage Creative Head Odel 25 graphics  and products. huge  animal  posters doting the interiors help create a happy zone. For the Odel brand we stick to a cleaner, sleeker and  modern  look.  For  Backstage  (in-house accessory brand) we create a more blingy and colourful zone. Little niches studded into the wall  hold  the  latest  collection. delight  (the brand  of  sweet  confectionaries)  is  fashioned to draw the kid out of the adults. it's bright and inviting with huge candies dangling from tree  tops. to  put  it  in  a  nutshell  we  try  to create different pockets within the store based on brands, products and departments. so the look  varies  from  department  to  department. the look changes every 15-20 feet. so it urges the customer to walk a little further and look some more.the design of the stand alone LUV sL stores is very quirky. tell us something more about it. Luv sL  is  a  range  of sri  Lankan  sovereigns. We  wanted  the  store  to  have  a  very  warm and friendly vibe. We achieved this through colours, rustic stone flooring, bronze fixtures, brick  exposed  walls  and  old  world  windows that impart a very edgy and aesthetic feel to the store. the huge chandeliers designed like a bird's cage add a very quirky element to the store design.

How often do you change the VM at Odel stores?

Fresh  stocks  come  in  daily  and  the  display of  products  is  changed  every  day. it's  done before  the  store  opens. thematic  changes are  done  every  three  months. it's  in  line with  international  trends  so  that  what  we offer  through  product,  imagery  and  feel  is somewhat global. this escalates all the way to christmas. We  also  target  two  zones  within  a  store every month to completely clean and revamp for  a  completely  fresh  look. this  is  done  by turning the furniture around, adding different graphics and imagery. so the customer always finds something different at Odel.

What was the most unique VM experiment you undertook which received a very good response?

christmas is always special at Odel. We build a huge hype around christmas. Very few stores in sri  Lanka  do christmas  the  way  we  do  it. Budgets are phenomenal and not a constraint for ideas and execution. the designing starts as early as January. We visit china and hong Kong to source the latest materials.  By  June  we  are  ready  with  our orders. the shipment arrives in the month of september and it's all up by november 10th. We have createddifferent looks through the 26years. christmas for us is not necessarily old fashioned. One year we created trees made of Mira ball glass. it was totally blingy. We also did  a  theme  of 'Paradise  Found'  which  had huge peacocks and mannequins hanging out from bird cages. in 2011 we did the Las Vegas theme which was called Live…Love and Laugh. this was all about lights - very typical of Las Vegas. so christmas for us is not the usual red, green and gold. We do throw in a red, green and gold christmas every four years. For Mother's day we created larger than life flower pots with bulbs as flowers. each stem was  around  8-10  ft  tall. the  display  looked amazing.

What  kinds  of  budgets  are  allotted  for Christmas?

it  varies  from sR  7.5-10  million. that's  how much we want to make it look different. We are  the  only  company  that  actually  travels outside of the country to source for christmas. Most stores just make do with what's available in colombo.

What's the customer reaction to these?

the  marketing  department  does  conduct surveys twice a year. But for the design team it's the actual feedback that we receive from the  customers  that  makes  all  the  difference. it's more than just a tick in a box! We always have customers who say how they loved the look of the store during festivals.

How large is the design team?

We have a team of eight retail designers who are  involved  in  the  shot  fits,  store  branding and imagery. Additionally ihave a team of 14 visual merchandisers who are responsible for the product display at all our 18 stores. so it's a reasonably large team. the biggest challenge is to make sure they are all on the same page. After  all  it's  a  creative  process.  Making  each store  look  similar  to  another  is  part  of  the challenge. But that's what makes it exciting too.
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