IRDC 2017 session programming is underway, and we will be announcing the complete agenda within the next few weeks. Here’s a quick overview of some of the timely topics we’ll be exploring at this not-to-be-missed event…


Wholesale to Retail: Why the Brick-and-Mortar Experience Matters
The retail landscape is continually shifting, and no longer is there an adversarial relationship between a brand’s e-commerce/mobile platforms and its in-store retail. Shoppers now see the store as the physical embodiment of the brand. This session will outline how retailers can successfully leverage their image, overall mission and marketing platforms to extend the digital essence of themselves to their physical environment.

Key takeaways:
• Always “double down” on the attributes that make a brand successful in other channels.
Understand the latest trends, technology and how changes in shopping behavior can add to a brand’s success ¬– allow for flexibility and adaptability in the business model.
• Shopping can bring us together, speak to our sense of style as individuals, and most importantly, the store itself can help create “shareable moments.”

Jared Ellis, Senior Director of Retail Concepts, Ariat
Robert Arend, CEO and Principal, RGLA
Jason Watts, Design Director, RGLA


Interactive Workshop: If At First You Don’t Succeed, You’re on the Right Path
How many of us start our day with the mantra, “I can’t wait to fail”? Standing on the precipice of failure is, for many, an uncomfortable situation. Perhaps more of us should look forward to failing by facing our fears and putting ourselves into new learning territories. Through this interactive workshop, explore ways to build a creative culture that embraces risk and celebrates failure as a key to success. Through audience participation, examine real examples of high-profile successes and spectacular failures that reflect on the “power of failure” to unlock true revelatory innovation.

Key takeaways:
Learn from failure, preparing you to innovate rather than evolve incrementally.
Seek opportunity and step outside your comfort zone to embrace risk every day by becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Building a successful strategic process includes developing tools to evaluate failure and regularly evolve.

Rachel Zsembery, VP, Bergmeyer Associates Inc.
Panelists: TBA


Interactive Discussion: Thirsty for Design? Modern Elixirs are Shaping Our Spaces
What are the ultimate goals when it comes to beverage-focused brands and their store designs? The quickly expanding category of food and beverage retail design is on the forefront. During this panel discussion, delve into the trends and how-tos when it comes to beverage- and food-driven designs, featuring insight from representatives from brands and retailers alike. Discover answers to questions, such as: How important is it for customers to have the opportunity to interact with others in these spaces? What’s the focus in terms of design that sets some brands apart from their competitors? The discussion will be geared around the goal of gaining a better understanding of what’s to come in this burgeoning industry sector.

Key takeaways:
• Gain a better understanding of trends and drivers in the quickly growing food and beverage category.
• Consider challenges related to operating within an airport and other environments; dealing with diverse customer profiles, furniture, equipment, managing budgets, etc.
• How are the most successful retailers/brands staying on the cutting edge (or not).

Christen Soares, Principal, Field Paoli Architects
Panelists: TBA


Cadillac House: Designing the Brand Experience
More and more, retailers are challenged to reinvent themselves in order to connect with customers in new, relevant ways. We are starting to see fewer transactional retail spaces and more transformative and experiential spaces that foster community. A prime example of this shift is Cadillac House in New York’s SoHo neighborhood: Shifting gears under new leadership, the brand made the bold move to relocate to The Big Apple from its Detroit hometown and create an interactive, experiential brand house, which sits at ground level, below Cadillac’s new headquarters. In this session, examine the importance of creating an identity for your brand, separate from the usual store experience, and discover why experience is bringing customers and retailers together like never before.

Key takeaways:
• What is an experience worth when it comes to physical “retail”?
• Retailers are not only buying an impression, they are investing in consumer loyalty.
• How do you measure success? Sales data, foot traffic, media impressions, visitor engagement?

Nathan Tan, Associate Director of Brand Partnerships and Experiences, Cadillac
TBA, Gensler


Immersive Fitness: Revamping the Customer Journey Using Design
The cultural communal experience has been described by some as being almost “cultish” – it keeps you coming back for more. SoulCycle, known for its immersive fitness model, is striving to become even more experiential than ever before, driving engagement and consumer loyalty. In this presentation, learn how SoulCycle undertook the challenge of enhancing the “human experience” through its store designs, as well as what trends in the experiential sector are pushing their way to the finish line.

Key takeaways:
• Gain a better understanding of branding and design, which keeps customer-centric companies like SoulCycle thriving.
• Best practices to create an experimental fitness experience for customers through store design, branding and communications.
Future trends in experiential design based on current trends, and how these trends will affect other areas of the industry, apart from fitness and health.

Alan Cooke, VP of Design, SoulCycle
Jonathan Lopez, Project Design Director, Retail Design Collaborative


Fixing the Wardrobe Malfunction: How Savers Reimagined Reuse Through the Power of Design
Retailers face a number of obstacles when incorporating social missions into brand positioning. Take the example of Savers, a global, for-profit thrift retailer with 330 stores in the U.S., Canada and Australia. The brand, which had been in business for 60 years, has not been recognized as a purpose-driven reuse company. Learn how developing impactful designs through mission-centric brand positioning is building consumer loyalty among existing customers, as well as new audiences, increasing revenue and establishing Savers as a thought leader in the “do good” space. Examine the reasons why design can aid in leveraging a company’s goals and values, while gaining new customers and inspiring current ones.

Key takeaways:
Gain insights into creating an authentic voice rooted in your company’s core values and mission.
• Adapt new strategies for building brand loyalty when designing for the greater good.
• Audience will be inspired to pursue mission-driven branding and design, even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Karin Koonings, Chief Marketing Officer, Savers
Tre Musco, CEO and Chief Creative Officer, Tesser


Selling Innovation through the Organization: How Kroger Redefined Grocery Shopping and the Guest Experience
Grocery stores have always been a staple, not only because people need to buy food and consumer packaged goods, but because they’ve continued to evolve to make the customer experience enjoyable. In this session, grocery retailer Kroger will share its examples of how innovative ideas are presented and sold through corporate leadership to create unique, meaningful and relevant experiences for their guests. How does Kroger come up with new experience ideas, and how are new guest experiences explored? What’s the best way to work with senior leadership? Find out the answers to these and many more critical questions about the best way to get buy-in, advance new ideas and foster innovation within your own retail organization.

Key takeaways:
• Hear compelling ideas on how to create innovation, especially in an organization with a rich heritage of success.
• Things to understand from both the retailer’s perspective and the designer’s perspective.
• Learnings you can apply to your own approach internally with colleagues and with key stakeholders.

Heidi DeMers, Manager of Interior Design, The Kroger Co.


Rising Again: How a Consumer Electronics Retailer Reinvented Itself One Store at a Time
With 550-plus stores, Canadian consumer electronics retail chain The Source has had to reinvent itself on virtually all fronts in order to stay alive. Now it continues to find innovative ways to grow and remain relevant in the age of digital and omnichannel retailing. From attracting new in-store brands to building an e-commerce website, this session will focus on the impact that a major investment can have on new store designs, as seen through the lens of The Source’s recent redesign journey. Uncover what this means for your brand or organization and how being “relevant” is the ultimate key to remaining successful.

Key takeaways:
• Discover what three main decisions will greatly improve your business case.
• Examine the importance of customer segments and their reaction to key design decisions.
• Discuss store design and its impact on omnichannel strategy.

Charles Brown, President, The Source


Reimagine Banking: Capital One Finds New Ways to Connect with Customers

In this session, Capital One’s Helen Herrick will describe how the brand has used design thinking during the last five years to modify the banking experience, focusing on various delivery models that fit more naturally into customers’ lives in our increasingly digital economy. She’s played an integral role in building Capital One Cafés, retail environments that feel less like banks and more like gathering spaces, often including public seating, private nooks, coffee bars and more. CallisonRTKL’s Cris Gunter will share how the Capital One Cafés effectively respond to customer expectations for comfortable environments and reflect broad trends in retail design.

Helen Herrick, Senior Director, Store Design & Strategy, Capital One
Cris Gunter, Senior Associate Vice President, CallisonRTKL

Key takeaways:
Connecting with people is more important than showcasing technology
• Learn to view your store from your customers’ perspective
• It’s okay if a lease space doesn’t perfectly accommodate your prototypical design.  Adapt!


Interactive Discussion: Why Visual Merchandising is More Critical Today than Ever Before
In today’s retail climate, with budgets being slashed and doors closing, well-executed visual merchandising is a cost-effective tool that attracts, engages and motivates customers to make purchases, while also showing the unique story of the product or brand. Where are the important merchandising areas in a store? Should every touchpoint be equally as engaging? Through this interactive panel discussion, discover how retailers can utilize creative visual merchandising techniques to breathe new life into their store environments.

Key takeaways:
Uncover why customers make the decision to visit your store versus purchasing online and what that means for you.
• Learn why the checkout experience should be just as engaging as a store’s windows.
• The reasons a customer journey map may help foster the kind of in-store navigation and engagement you’re after.

Sharon Lessard, Senior Associate, Studio Director, and Retail Practice Area Leader, Gensler
Panelists: TBA