I never lose my enjoyment for travelling, which is fortunate as each year I am dispatched to more interesting and further places. This year I was lucky enough to visit Shanghai on business. For anyone considering a visit this sprawling and dynamic city, I recommend you add it to your ‘must see’ list.
As a tourist you can enjoy all kinds of incredible experiences here. From the spectacular views across The Bund with its gleaming towers, to the nightly flotilla of boats that transform the area into a carnival of light. I was there, though, for its retail offer which has an enormous selection of all kinds of regional and Chinese brands, as well as increasingly familiar names from home too.
The image I have selected is from one of our clients, Marks and Spencer, still a relatively new arrival to the city. This image is from within the latest store, which opened during my visit to Huaihai Zhong Lu, a major shopping district.
In recent years M&S has opened five stores in Shanghai, and this latest one is, in my opinion, the best yet. Like other inbound UK brands such as Next, Mothercare and Fat Face who have recently set up shop here, M&S is investing heavily in succeeding in this vast consumer market. From opening its first store on the famous Nanjing Road in 2008, it has developed a strong presence of full line department stores. With each new opening, M&S recognises the need to ‘raise the bar’ and push new boundaries to deliver an exceptional shopping experience.
M&S understands it must present local consumers with the same brand hallmarks and retail standards that have made the business a success worldwide. As such, inspirational VM, easy shopping and a consistent delivery of M&S’s brand standards are an essential part of the mix. And, with a distance of 5,727 miles from the stores in Shanghai to the M&S Head Office in London, this can present many challenges for delivering the brand.
Visual Thinking has been working with the M&S International team for several years, to develop a range of bespoke VM and retail communications solutions that satisfy these important brand delivery needs. Together, we have developed effective digital media communications that help ensure effective and consistent brand delivery across international and cultural borders. These tools can be updated effortlessly from one central UK source, to provide relevant and useful VM and retail information to store teams – regardless of time zone, language or VM delivery topics.
This latest M&S store in Shanghai delivers an exceptional shopping experience. The familiar brands, such as Blue Harbour, Autograph and Per Una, have been supercharged to introduce them to new consumers in a stimulating and visually appealing way. As a result of working together, the M&S store teams are skilled and informed about how to deliver and maintain the highest VM and retail standards in M&S on an ongoing basis.
These projects present many exciting opportunities to support our retail clients and their brand delivery needs worldwide from the comfort of their ‘own home market’, reaching out to their store teams with training, information and support in relevant, useful and cost effective formats.
It’s always good to find something familiar in a strange city when you are far away from home. It’s even better when this is a store you know, a brand that you trust and shopping experience that is both reassuring and surprising. Thinking about it, I suppose this is the very essence of ‘your M&S’…