Global retail agency gears up for NZ

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Danielle Barclay, the Melbourne-based general manager of International Brand & Strategy at greater group, is relocating to Auckland to lead the expansion of the global retail agency into the New Zealand market.

She has over 17 years experience working within design agencies, with a skill set that spans interior design, communications, public relations, direct marketing, multimedia, experiential and events.

Prior to joining greater group, she held senior management roles throughout different divisions of CPM International, including Omnicom Worldwide, TRO Australia, Retail Engine and DDB Shop.

greater group is an award-winning global retail agency, specialising in store design, fit-out and manufacturing solutions. They have branches in Australia, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore, servicing clients such as Samsung, Google, Hyundai, Westpac Group and Pandora. And soon, Auckland.

Danielle Barclay agreed to do a Q+A with M+AD

Greater group was formed out of three specialist retail companies. Can you tell us a bit more about the merger and the services it provides?

The business was formally made up of three separate brands owned by the same group of directors – retail design firm Angley & Arrowsmith, project management & build company Shopworks and Asia procurement business Locasia.

In July last year the three brands merged to create greater group, born from a need to simplify the offer for clients and bring the divisions closer together to provide a true end-to-end solution.

The business that has specialised in retail as a category for over 25 years offers a unique proposition for clients – from strategy and design through to prototype, build and maintenance.

As head of brand and strategy at greater group, what does your role entail?

I am responsible for continuing to develop the greater group brand message and promoting it to new customers globally, and also work closely with the directors of the business to help shape the business strategy.

For our clients I ensure we interpret their brand promise into a physical retail space, which involves dissecting their brief, conducting analysis and workshops to develop a design and customer experience strategy.

Soon to be based in Auckland, I am also responsible for setting up and managing our New Zealand office.

What has been the career path that has led you to where you are now?

I have always specialised in retail as a category, first on client side for magazine publisher ACP and then agency side with Omnicom agencies for eight years including Auckland’s own DDB Group.

I set up and managed retail design and digital experience divisions whilst working for Omnicom in Australia and NZ working with global retail brands internationally including Telecom (Spark), Lion, NZ Lotteries, Mercedes Benz, Telstra, Google, P&G and HTC.

One of the challenges working within an agency is you have very little control over the end product you are creating, you drive the creative idea and concept but in the case of store design you often handover the build to the client or a third party.

I joined greater group because we provide the full turnkey solution to clients ensuring the idea at the beginning of a project is implemented at the end.

What also excites me about this entrepreneurial business is the growth to date and global expansion strategy that enables me to utilize my full skillset.

What is the most important trend you’re seeing in the New Zealand retail industry?

Omnichannel is certainly the growing trend, we have seen signs over the past few years but we are now seeing this strategy coming through in retail design briefs which is exciting.

Retail brands are recognising the need to, not only develop an omnichannel strategy but most importantly to ensure their offer is consistent in the retail store and customers can connect through multiple channels.

For you, what is an example of a retail project (that isn’t yours) that really caught your eye in the last 12 months?

Melbourne’s Emporium retail precinct is a great go to place to see the latest and greatest in retail experiences in Australia.

One of my favourites recently is Superglue, it’s a double storey 1000m2 retail playground from company Glue.

The design and store layout is new and exciting with a huge mural by a local artist and dynamic showcase of product; lattes are served in an internal café, there is free wifi and areas to hang out and a DJ plays live with records available for purchase.

The experience-based concept I’m sure draws inspiration from Abercrombie & Fitch and Topshop

The explosion of digital has changed the retail landscape, however there are still some purchases customers prefer to make in-store. What can retailers be doing to ensure customers receive a great in-store experience?

Reverse showrooming is a growing trend to provide added value beyond online purchase. Customers can purchase online but opt to pick up in store. This ensures brands can be more competitive on shipping costs, beat delivery times and also have the opportunity to upsell whist the customer is instore.

Also retailers like Oasis in the UK are offering customers the option to browse and order online whilst instore, which is especially smart if you don’t stock all sizes, ensuring the customer still purchases whilst instore.

Could you tell us a bit about some of the projects/clients at greater group on?

Samsung Experience Store – Melbourne: we have just delivered our third experience store for Samsung in Melbourne Central, providing customers an immersive product experience, areas to learn and explore and a business zone to demonstrate the office of the future.

Lincoln Automotive Showroom – Shanghai: we also just completed our first project for Lincoln, part of Ford Motor Company. We partnered with Imagination, Grain & Pixel and 8-Inc to create a state of the art automotive shopping experience in downtown Shanghai. Lincoln’s inaugural China dealership boasts best in class digital material selectors using the latest RFID technology. A truly best in class digital experience.

How has the retail industry changed in the last few years and where do you see the retail industry heading in the next decade?

Digital has certainly been the biggest change over the past few years and it won’t stop influencing the retail experience.

Already we are seeing new products on the market, like wearables and NFC capable phones that are changing the way content is delivered and customers interact in store.

Despite all of this customers are craving authentic experiences more and more, so we will continue to see resurgence of old fashioned retailing. Personal customer experience that focuses on face-to-face interaction, specialist retailers thriving on the high street and creative design and window displays to entice the customer in.

Where do you see greater group will to be in five years time?

greater group will continue to expand globally with more than 10 offices and be well established as the market leader in design-led turnkey retail solutions.

We are excited to get started in New Zealand and support retailers expand locally and internationally.

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