Capabilities

 

CWD One PagerComputers and software are important tools for the work that we do. We model the things we design using computer aided design (CAD) software and produce renderings, sometimes photorealistic ones that are used to explain how something will look before it is built.

This past December we invested in a new liquid cooled PC based APEX4 machine from Boxx computers so that we could start running AutoDesk software. The software we’re running is 3ds Max which allows us to model up displays, fixtures and environments, map them and then create realistic renderings and animations for our clients. Adding this second machine and software, my wife and fellow designer Christine will now be able to help out when we need the extra capacity during busy times, or for projects that are best run on this system. This will free me up to focus on strategy, more involved projects and our business and clients more closely.

Our expertise is retail strategy and design, but to accompany this focus we’ve built a whole network of resources and capabilities that we can bring to bear, making life easier for our clients. We partner with other designers to bring additional perspective and resources. We have a vast network of manufacturers that can make anything we design, whether it’s one piece or a thousand. And we have all sorts of professionals we team up with for services such as engineering, photography, graphic design and copy writing. By bringing all of this together into one spot, our clients don’t have to manage everything themselves and they get just one bill in the mail. This is critical when you’re trying to grow your business today.

Here’s a recap of what we do:

  • retail strategy and design
  • research and trends
  • graphic design
  • interior design
  • product engineering
  • industrial design
  • project mangement
  • space planning
  • store planning / call center / reorder services
  • branding
  • copy writing
  • photography
  • interactive kiosk design and sourcing
  • global sourcing
  • packaging design
  • graphic visualization
  • presentation creation

At the top of this article is a photo of the latest marketing piece we created to share our new hardware news. We plan on rolling out more of these throughout the year to share with our clients and prospective clients. There will be a slight change in our own branding, moving away from the candy color marketing to more lifestyle imagery with simple single color branding, but with our good old logo form.

Also we’ll take some time to delve into each of the above services to explain more about what they mean and how we do them.

-Chris


 

Chris Weigand is an industrial designer and retail consultant. His handy work may be found in over thirty-thousand retail doors across the world. Whether your product is new to retail for you’re in thirty-thousand doors, he and his team can help you out, and make your life easier. Contact him at 330-858-8926 or chris@chrisweiganddesign.com today.

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Catch the Pokemon Wave

Seemingly out of nowhere Pokemon Go took over the world earlier this July. The free downloadable app was, and still is, the talk of social and news media. Turns out chasing imaginary creatures is getting everyone off of the couch and, for at least a moment or two, forgetting about elections, violence and all the bills they have to pay. It’s basically like a much welcome break from reality during a very hot and tiresome summer here in the U.S.

The app was launch without much anticipation or fanfare, but none the less has resulted in big bucks for Nintendo, the parent company that owns the Pokemon brand. Their evaluation was up way over 25%, or $11 billion (that’s with a “b”) in just a week according to an article on qz.com. Even if you don’t believe what they say as far as valuation goes, there is no denying the initial impact of the app on our short attention span society.

How long will the party last? Who knows. But what can and should you do to make the best of an incredible situation?

Merchants Seize the Opportunity

Not surprisingly, savvy merchants are taking advantage of everyone getting off of their couches and getting out to find imaginary creatures in our cities, towns and parks. A pizza shop in Long Island spent $10 on “lures” to lure Pokemon, and the people looking to capture Pokemon, to their shop and their sales were up 75% over the weekend.

Soon merchants will be able to sponsor their location to attract even more customers.

The beauty of the app is it’s getting people of every demographic off the couch and out into society looking for these critters. Families are putting down the iPads and wanting to go on hikes, or visit downtown to find Pokemon. Business people are taking a few minutes at lunch or before work exploring to find Pokemon. And when people are exploring, they get hungry, thirsty and want to visit your store.

A Spearow by Starbucks? Why yes, I’ll stop in for a latte.

Take Advantage of the Pokemon Go Trend

In the game there are “PokeStops” where gamers can get much needed enhancements to the game. As a merchant, download the app and figure out where the closest PokeStop is to you. If you’re lucky your venue may even be one, which should already be attracting people. In our town there are several churches and businesses that are PokeStops or PokeGyms.

As mentioned, it doesn’t cost much to “lure” Pokemon and their explorers to your shop. You get a couple free lures when you sign up, and additional ones only cost a few dollars and last for a half hour. Spread the word on social media that you dropped a lure and wait for customers.

Once there, be creative with how you seize the Pokemon phenomenon. Tout your business as “Pokemon Central” by offering provisions for explorers – water, food, licensed product. Maybe make it social by starting a club or offering discounts for people who’ve found certain Pokemon. Create photo ops for people to take pictures with their yet to be captured Pokemon in front of your store.

Missed the Wave?

No idea what Pokemon Go is, or you missed it completely? No worries, in our short attention span society there will surely be another app, event or trend that you can seize to amp up your bottom line.

Take the time to be aware of trends as they happen. Regularly read the news, and pay attention to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to hear what people are talking about. Observe you customers and talk to them to find out what they’re interested in.

My family didn’t pick up on Pokemon Go until three days into it, by then it was on the mainstream media. But there is still plenty of life in the trend cycle for Pokemon Go as they add features and improve the app.

Even if you missed it, establish habits now for how your business will react to social trends in order to enhance your bottom line. Trend watching is just as important as inventory, customer service and pricing for your business. With good habits and creativity you may be discovering some happy additions to your bottom line by year’s end.

In the meantime I think there’s a Rattata in the office that needs to be caught…

-Chris


When not out looking for Pokemon, Chris Weigand is an industrial designer specializing in branding and retail design. As president of Chris Weigand Design, LLC, Chris and his team help some of the largest brands and retailers in the world, as well as independents, local and start-ups connect with customers out in the marketplace. Contact Chris today at (330) 858-8926 or chris@chrisweiganddeisgn.com to find out how he can help your brand seize upon the latest trends influencing the marketplace.

Visit Small Towns To Uncover Retail Gems

Look in any retail design trade publication and you’re presented with glamorous photographs of exotic retail locations sprinkled across the world’s largest metro areas. From big chains to small boutiques, seemingly if you want to see where it’s at in terms of retail design you’d better head downtown, or hop on a plane.

A recent vacation reminded me that you don’t have to travel to the big city to experience the best of retail. We spent our mid-summer family holiday in the town of Ellicottville in western New York state. It’s an international ski town that I’ve personally visited for the better part of thirty years; watching it adapt, evolve and grow. Despite the focus on winter, when the town is flooded by winter sport lovers from across the region (and Canada), it has grown into a vibrant summer scene also. And any time we’re in town we make a point of visiting the stores that line its main streets.

The village (part of the town by the same name) is very quaint and devoid of national chains. It’s a paradise for viewing independent retail up close and personal. Stores have come and gone through the years but vacancy isn’t too high right now so it is a great time to visit. There are several new stores to supplement the old standbys.

I took the time to visit most of the stores, and even talked to a few of the merchants to learn more about their awesome retail spaces. I suspect many of them are designing the stores themselves, and exciting those designs by the sweat of their own brow (one merchant said as much). Whether they do the work themselves, or hire someone (hint, hint) the key is knowing their brand and having that communicated in every way. Most of the stores we visited did this exceedingly well. As a retail designer I didn’t see much I would have done differently, and many things that I found beyond delight as a designer, and shopper.

Walking through the stores reminded me of how much I love shopping and retail environments. It made for a fun morning. An experience that can’t be replicated online. Nor is it easily translatable to mass retail.

So before you book your design team trip to New York City, San Francisco, London or wherever it is you go, consider driving through the countryside closer to home. There are a lot of great independent retailers creating really awesome retail experiences right in front of us.

Where are your favorite hole in the wall retail design haunts? Share in the comments below after enjoying the photos of Ellicottville.

 

-Chris Weigand

President, Chris Weigand Design, LLC

Chris Weigand Design is a full service professional retail design and branding consultancy. We work with companies of all sizes to design compelling design solutions that connect with customers. We love shopping, we love going out to stores and seeing what merchants are doing. We enjoy creating really awesome solutions for our clients. Contact us today at 330.858.8926 to find out how we can make your store a place that people love to shop.

Retail Display Technology Horror Show

With a nod to Friday the 13th, let me take a moment to mention something that scares me when it comes to retail design: technology at retail, specifically video monitors.

Now before you roll your eyes and write me off as some sort of pre-historic relic, let me explain. I actually love the idea of interacting with shoppers via the latest technology. What scares me is how retailers, marketers and manufacturers arrive at, and execute, what seemingly is a simple “no-brainer”.

Here’s what happens: everyone gets together and figures out that they have to do something different for a display or their store. They see article after article that the internet is pounding the snot out of brick-and-mortar stores. They see people flocking to the latest social media site du jour. Guests are seemingly surgically attached to their smart phones.

What is a retailer, brand or marketing company to do?

At the tail end of the creative brief they throw in this line:

“include design concepts with a monitor”

Erm, okay.

That’s what scares me.

“Make the display purple like our brand, make it 72″ tall and make sure it has wheels. Oh and add a random monitor in there, ’cause that will solve a lot of problems.”

Um, nope.

This reeks of an un-thought-through (I made that up) tactical approach that is often thrown in by some random person (owner, marketing, salesman, design director, intern…).  Pro tip: throwing monitors at the problem is not part of a fundamental, comprehensive, marketing strategy.

So, before you go off the deep end, and waste a ton of money, here are my unscientific tips for putting monitors (and technology) at retail.

1) Please, Please, Please, Have A Purpose

Monitors cost a lot of money and use a lot of resources. Just because the internet uses video and bejeweled buttons, doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. Ask yourself why do you need a monitor? How does it fit into your marketing strategy and brand? Who will look at it? If it’s interactive, who will interact with it? Is it worth the cost and complexity?

Do not, do not, do not EVER just put a line item on the creative brief that says – “oh, show us some monitor concepts too” with nothing to back up the rationale.

Otherwise, use large format graphics and creative merchandising to get more bang for your buck.

2) It’s Like A Pet, Who’s Going To Take Care Of It?

We all see it. All the time. Brand XYZ comes out with an awesome new display made by world-renowned Design Firm ABC. It’s got lights, monitors, and $200K worth of lasers and holograms selling ice to Eskimos. Every trade publication and industry association fawns all over it. Salesmen crack the champagne and it’s rumored there’s even a Hollywood movie in the works…

Three months later guests are looking at a static image of the brand logo, waiving their arms fruitlessly in front of an 72″ vertical monitor, in an effort to “try on” clothes. Or the brand message changes and no one even bothers to plug-in a new USB drive to download the update. Eventually the monitor ends up in some district manager’s basement in time for the Super Bowl.

Pass the salsa.

Hey guys, what seems like a good idea during the design phase equals a lot of care and feeding down the road.

Nothing says you’re out of touch like technology that no longer works at retail.

3) Are Committed To Doing It Right?

You know, you’ve got this cool video monitor with all this technology, are you going to actually use it? Or are you just throwing it out there because the guys selling bread in the next aisle have a monitor?

Do not, I repeat, do not just put your logo on the screen, with a slide show of random products. Every time you do that, god kills a somebody with a Marketing MBA.

Understand your guests’ wants and needs. Take the time to do your research; find out what their frustrations are, how technology can help, AND attract them. Then spend the money on comprehensive graphic design, programming, and industrial design to make it look like you care about your brand, the retailer and guests.

Please, design the user experience (like real humans are going to use the technology by the way) and trouble shoot it before you go live.

4) Make Sure You’ve Got The Right Product

Some businesses need this technology at retail; video game console companies for example. What kind of monster doesn’t like stopping at Best Buy to race through the Alps on an Xbox?

If you’re selling thumbtacks in a hardware store, I’m not sure you need a monitor. But maybe… Please have a compelling reason to put wires, glass and metal on a shelf front.

Time is a consumer’s most precious commodity. Information their greatest need at retail. Help them make informed decisions, and make them fall in love with your shopping experience. They want to be entertained, but they are savvy enough to know if you’re wasting their time.

Alright, I think you get the idea. Below are some random images I pulled from my personal archive with my thoughts.

Just to be safe though, I think I’ll avoid going to retail this Friday the 13th, if it’s all the same to you.

Do you agree? Disagree? Who does tech at retail right? What are the worst examples you’ve seen? How can we improve the retail experience with technology?

Continue the discussion in the comments below.

-Chris

Chris Weigand Design, LLC is a full service retail design consultancy who is more than happy to design your next display or store, with or without monitors, lasers and holograms. We want to help make the emotional connection between your brand and guests in the physical retail space. And have fun doing it.

Contact us today at (330) 858-8926 or visit www.chrisweiganddesign.com for more information.

 

 

One Of A Kind Frame Display

(This is the second of two reviews of cool projects we just completed for independent retailers. Visit us at www.chrisweiganddesign.com or contact us at chris@chrisweiganddesign.com to find out how we can help your business with retail design services. I will update the photos once we get some good ones.

-Chris Weigand)

A 4x4 island display for showcasing fine art.

A 4×4 island display for showcasing fine art.

Hudson Fine Art & Framing

When Hudson Fine Art & Framing moved from a century old Georgian mansion across the street to an equally old former drug store it was an exciting new opportunity to strum up more foot traffic. We were fortunate to be tasked with helping organize their interior space with a couple of new displays.

First off we designed and made two moveable island displays. The displays would provide a backdrop for patrons looking into the windows of the store. The 4’x4′ units are light enough though that they can be moved around when more space is needed. Each features a wall panel and integrated hanging rail for wall art. The elevated base can display dimensional art products such as furniture or sculptures. Paint and stain that matches the rest of the historical space completes the look, and makes for a neutral presentation. Perfect for highlighting the wonderfully unique works of art that guests can view and purchase.

In addition to being a fine art gallery, Hudson Fine Art & Framing also caters to customers who need framing and frame restoration services. As is common in framing shops there are is a vast array of frame samples for customers to choose from. Most often these samples sit flat on a wall and take up a lot of space. Occasionally a spinner is out posted for frame samples, once again taking up precious space.

We were tasked with organizing the frame samples in a more efficient yet effective manner. The design we came up with is a one of a kind frame sample wall display, with page frames that can be browsed – flipped back and forth.

We started out by measuring the current square footage of the frame samples in the old store, and figured out that eight (8) two-sided panels would display the bulk of the samples currently in inventory. Each panel holds about 150-200 samples each. Overall the unit measures 66″ wide and about 90″ tall. The unit takes up a fraction of the wall space that would be needed if you spread that many samples out on a flat wall.

The unit consists of a lower base, upper wall unit and the page assemblies. We designed the frames and had Armstrong Products in Oklahoma custom make them for us – round tube frames with a black “carpet” wrap. The samples adhere to the panels with velcro. We fabricated the wood components in-house, finishing them in a walnut stain to match the rest of the store interior. The upper and lower parts of the display are bolted securely to the wall and the panels simply drop in.

In all my years of designing retail solutions, this one display is one of my favorites. It truly is simple and innovative. It also looks and functions great. All hallmarks of what we bring to the table as retail designers.

The client is so happy that we have plans of adding another, smaller display down the road to showcase additional frame samples.

Take the time to stop by and view all of the wonderful art at Hudson Fine Art & Framing. And be sure to check out their one-of-a-kind frame display.

The only frame sample display we know of that looks and functions like this space saving design by Chris Weigand Design

The only frame sample display we know of that looks and functions like this space saving design by Chris Weigand Design

Latest Project – Open Door Coffee Company

(We just wrapped up two local projects that were pretty interesting. I need to get some better photos but for now I’ll share what I’ve got.  Here is the write up for the first one. These are both for independent retailers.  If that sounds like you, and you would like some help with your next retail design project, visit us at www.chrisweiganddesign.com or send me an email at chris@chrisweiganddesign.com to talk about what you’ve got going on. We’d love to help.

-Chris Weigand)

The installed cash wrap awaiting register, pastries and customers.

The installed cash wrap awaiting register, pastries and customers.

Open Door Coffee Company

Open Door is a new coffee shop, whose doors opened for a preview night this past Saturday in Hudson, Ohio. The cafe “opens the door” for customers to enjoy fair trade coffee, tasty pastries, even live music and poetry readings.

We met with the owners as they were mid way into refurbishing what was once an old neighborhood drug store. The building is over a hundred years old. It’s a perfect corner spot for a coffee shop. Right in the center of the interior space stands an old marble soda bar. The bar colors, pink and dark green, are difficult to work with, but regardless it’s a great feature that brings back fond memories to local residents who grew up sitting at that bar ordering sodas on warm summer days.

Adjacent to the bar we were tasked with designing and building a cash-wrap with storage below and a partition for pastry display. Budget was a major concern. As with any new shop, funds are spread thin, but cash wrap is a necessity. We could make something from the ground up, but was there a way to offset some of the cost?

The answer was found in the basement, but not necessary where we stared looking. The owners mentioned an old granite top in the basement – so we took a look. Our thought was it could save us the expense of fabricating a laminate top. Turns out the granite color was worse than the bar marble, or at least the combo together would have been awful.

While we were down there though the owners mentioned an old pharmacy cabinet in the next room. Maybe that could help save some money.

Turns out the cabinet dimensions, 25″ deep x 80″ long x 34″ tall, were perfect. The hefty frame would be a great skeleton for mounting a new counter top to.  And you can’t buy the charm you get with reusing an old piece of furniture. In fact several old merchant pieces already found a home upstairs in the cafe.

We got the okay from the landlord to repurpose the unit. We were excited at the find and excited to be giving a second life to the unit, which likely dated from half a century ago.

The plan was simple: install a new laminate top, and attach an old door to the front face. The owners had several doors that were salvaged from local farm houses that we could use. The patina on the one we chose for the cash wrap was a light green, with cracking that you couldn’t replicate if you tried. A few days later the doors and cabinet were loaded up and on their way to our shop.

For the counter we selected Wilsonart 7922 Brighton Walnut. It’s color and grain was a perfect match for the existing century old wood work in the store. The cabinet had a few subtle trim details that we were able to retain. The old door fit perfectly between trim and cabinet. We cut a second door to wrap the one corner and installed a shelf inside. During construction the glass bypass doors were discovered, as well as additional shelves, so that help offset costs as well. Installing the counter brought our finished height up to 36″, which kept us within ADA guidelines.

A low “fence” surround was fabricated for the register; made simply of 3/4″ boards wrapped in laminate. We installed a tempered glass sneeze guard around the area that pastries would be displayed. As of this writing, we’re waiting on one more piece of glass for the sneeze guard: we decided to cover all three sides instead of just two. Adjacent to the wrap will be a custom display case that will be lower than we originally planned. Thus the additional sneeze guard.

Everyone seems very pleased with the results. It was an awesome opportunity to help a new independent retailer open shop. And it goes without saying repurposing furniture that has a history is very rewarding from a spiritual standpoint, not to mention environmental and financial standpoints as well.

The finished wrap helps convey the Open Door Coffee Company brand, and lends a degree of authenticity you just don’t get from mass-produced displays.

Do stop by for a cup of coffee, delicious pastry, and start making your very own memories.

A drawing that is typical of what we use when designing and fabricating a custom piece for a retail store.

A drawing that is typical of what we use when designing and fabricating a custom piece for a retail store.

The unit was not light. It took three of us to lift it off the trailer and through the front door.

The unit was not light. It took three of us to lift it off the trailer and through the front door.

 

For Authentic Retail Experience, Shop Local.

Terry-Lumber-accessory-table

I love going to our local hardware store / lumber yard. Terry Lumber Supply has been a fixture in the Peninsula area for over 70 years. The last 28 years they’ve been selling lumber, hardware and supplies out of their current location in our local Ohio hometown.

Even if you aren’t a retail designer, or merchant, a trip to Terry Lumber Supply is a treat, especially if you like to explore. It’s not a large store but it packs plenty of opportunities to browse; discovering things that you might need for that weekend project or the “to do” list your spouse handed to you.

The interior is not overwrought in my opinion. Walls are simply painted white and the ceiling is a grid of tiles. A cupola with clearstory windows adds a stream of natural daylight for the center of the store. Beyond that degree of simplicity though guests are welcome to explore rambling aisles and a plethora of old displays. I suspect many of the displays date clear back to when the store was founded by John J. “Terry” Montaquila in 1940. And they are still being used to display modern products. As a designer it’s like walking through a retail display museum. I always feel like I need to go back and spend more time there. That being said, there is a lot packed into one store; giving it the charm of times past. But it’s an authentic charm. Not manufactured and not trying to fool you. That case holding threaded rods? It’s the real deal, likely pulled from a local library decades ago.

There is a full complement of tools, plumbing supplies and paint. Each area has been curated and shaped over the years; merchandising product without fanfare, but with a unique local feeling.

It just feels like “home”.

In one corner is the most wondrously quaint fastener area. Nails and screws sit in open bins and are bought by the pound, using a vintage scale, presumably the same way as you would buy such things nearly a century ago. You just don’t get that experience in a big box store. That same sentiment extends to other areas as well. It’s what really differentiates this independent retailer from its mass brethren. When you go there your project feels more special, more historical. You’re not just buying commodity boards of wood and a hammer, you’re human, you’re part of something.

An old scale for weighing nails for sale by the pound.

An old scale for weighing nails for sale by the pound.

Terry-Lumber-tail-display-2

I’ve learned to go right to the spacious desk area and ask for input from the staff on my latest supply needing endeavor back at the homestead. Accessibility, courtesy and knowledge of associates also sets them apart, just as it should in any independent store front. Sure I may not be able to find everything, or the prices may be higher for particular items, but the guest experience makes it well worth any perceived tradeoffs. And actually, when we were building our home nearby, this local little shop was able to order a specific type of house wrap that couldn’t be found in any other store or sales channel.

Over time it’s definitely worth building a relationship with the team there, just as you would with an insurance person, doctor or mechanic. In the long run it’ll make life easier when you’re in a DIY bind. And building that relationship is a pure delight in such store environment. I think you can even still get a cold soda from a vintage cooler near the checkout area. And with Spring warming up, that sounds like a good way to take a break from working outside on a Saturday afternoon.

The point here is that local stores naturally gravitate towards an authentic retail experience that is difficult to recreate on a mass scale. Even so, there still are opportunities for design to improve the experience and functionality. Regardless though, as a designer it’s always refreshing to shop locally; discovering, admiring and refilling my creative spirit.

What’s your favorite local store that you love to explore?

What is it about the store that makes you smile?

Answer below in the comments, after the photos.

-Chris Weigand

President, Chris Weigand Design

Chris has been designing retail displays and environments for nearly 17 years. Chris Weigand Design is focused on making design accessible to independent retailers. Contact us today by visiting www.chrisweiganddesign.com