M&S asked us to make a tool to help unite their brand throughout their 480 international stores. Traditionally a flagship store was elected every year and then key people were invited to visit and take time to understand the main features, which were documented for them on paper. M&S wanted a solution that allowed Visual Merchandising teams to understand and implement the high standards of VM seen in the flagship store in their own local stores. This would offer VM teams a journey around the store, highlighting key features. Because this would be visually engaging and be viewed on iPads, this was more likely to be used and referred to again and again, rather than gathering dust, as the manuals had been.
The brief also required a CMS (content management system) for team leaders to manage key information, so they could add, edit and remove VM info in-house as they wished.
The tours featured several hundred info points, and this was a huge amount of content to pull together and programme elegantly.
Shooting the flagship stores was a pleasure. We had to schedule the shoots for times when the stores were closed so there were no people in shot, and the shop and products would be perfect. However the lack of staff at those times also meant that we had to pitch in to ensure the VM was perfect – photographers aren’t known for their ability to tie ties well, but we think we stepped up to the occasion.
We completed much of the structure for the CMS in advance of the shoots, so as soon as the 360 images were ready, much of the content was already loaded and just needed to be programmed in to the precise locations within each 360. This enabled a swift turnaround.
In the past, M&S had to fly key staff members out to the flagship international stores. Not only was this a great expense with travel, accommodation and subsistence costs, and required staff to host them and train them, but it was hard to ensure that the information was disseminated to staff back in each local territory. With compelling content on handy iPads, it was easier to ensure that every VM staff member thoroughly understood the VM guidelines. And the travel bill and carbon footprint were massively reduced too.