Brought to you by Retail Insider and Webloyalty

Highlighting some of the entries in the latest Digital Retail Innovations Report (sponsored by Webloyalty) a series of Q&A’s with the leading figures behind some of the key innovations in the report are being published.

Here is a Q&A with Howard Sullivan, co-founder and creative director of YourStudio, which featured in the report for its work with Virgin Holidays and their concessions in Next stores.

1. How did the original idea come about?

We have worked on a series of destination travel retail stores for Virgin Holidays all inspired by signature holiday experiences. This concept for Next focused on the ‘oasis’. How do you create an area within a thriving retail environment that gives you that instant sense of sanctuary and escape. Start that holiday feeling before you’ve even booked!

Howard Sullivan, co-founder and creative director, YourStudio

2. What has been the level of take-up of the service and what are the key ways retailers are using it?

We have just launched our first Virgin Holidays x Next boutique at Shoreham and the response has been incredible to date. We have had customers commenting on the experiential angle of the store, with the green wall giving them that sense of tranquility they’re often looking for amidst a day of shopping with the family.

3.What about competition in this area?

The travel retail area is competitive but also challenging in that there aren’t any tangibles to sell in store. We have re-invented travel retail with the work we’ve done with Virgin Holidays, moving their flagship stores away from transactional focus to creating a welcoming lounge environment which customers love. With the opportunity to start the conversation with a coffee or glass of cold prosecco at the bar, it’s an easy win- the holiday starts from the moment you start your joinery of inspiration.

4. How has the solution been developed / advanced over time?

We have worked on an iterative design process with Virgin Holidays. What we love about working with them is their voracious appetite for innovation and continual evolution of the experience around customer demand. We started with the lounge concept for v-room standalone stores and have now developed them to include a world first- an in-store VR travel rollercoaster we’ve recently added in the two latest stores we’ve designed for them. This also features in the Virgin Holidays x Next boutiques.

VR rollercoaster in the Cardiff flagship store

5. Have there been any surprises along the way?

We were surprised when installing the first VR rollercoaster at the appetite of everyone from school kids to 80 year olds who just couldn’t wait to taste that experience. We have been pleasantly surprised by the reception we’ve had by customers to some of the more innovative and multi-sensory ways we’ve brought the holiday destinations to life.

6.What can we expect from YourStudio in the future?

Watch this space, we have plenty of very exciting projects in the pipeline. One clue….experience design in every dimension…and expect to be challenged!

7. Do you have any recommendations for entries in the next Digital Retail Innovations report?

Digital retail innovations that in our mind are successful are where the digital component is brought in in an invisible way to truly reflect or respond to a human need. Smart links from online to offline in a space are what’s most needed and most rarely achieved. We’re in a rapidly changing world and there’s no more exciting time than now- hopefully we’ll be able to see the human knowledge of .ai revolutionising our physical retail world…let’s see!

Glynn Davis, Editor, Retail Insider 

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