(By: Terry Waterhouse)
“We hope to redefine the airport retail experience and customer journey with a comprehensive brand profile presented in an interactive and engaging environment. Our aim is to deliver the ultimate shopping experience to a diverse audience in one of the most robust travel markets in the world.”
–Alice Woo, MD, Shilla Travel Retail
The Shilla Duty Free, one of the world’s leading travel retail companies, has unveiled their new retail stores “Beauty&You” at Hong Kong International Airport following a successful six-month soft launch period. Korean-headquartered and a subsidiary of Samsung, the six Beauty&You concept stores offer the ultimate one-stop shopping destination featuring 200 beauty and fashion accessory brands.
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is ranked one of the top ten busiest airports in the world with over 72 million passengers passing through, en-route to 220 destinations around the globe.
In line with experiential retail trends, Beauty&You offers curated hospitality with high-end product offerings for a seamless retail experience. Conceived by UK retail designers GP Studios, this experience includes professional beauty and fashion advisors offering personalized recommendations, situated in engagement zones throughout the stores.
The Beauty&You concept symbolizes the brand’s commitment to deliver a comprehensive beauty retail experience and be at the forefront of experiential retail where customers may explore their own beauty preferences by experimenting with combinations of multiple brands and experiences. Incorporating digital elements such as virtual makeup apps to try on looks from various brands, with animated features such as “Get the Look” and “Magic Mirror” are designed to communicate the most updated beauty and fashion trends, promising fun and informative tips.
A strategic transition
Whilst there are many design and operational challenges working in airports, the most significant challenge for this project was the requirement for staging multiple overnight transitions from existing DFS stores to Beauty&You, with minimal disruption to trading. As lead project manager, Diadem assisted Shilla in preparing for operational readiness, activation and the transition plan for DFS to move out of the stores and handover to Shilla simultaneously.
Covering a combined area of 3300 sqm, Diadem was engaged to plan, design and manage the phased implementation of six stores over a fifteen-month program. Diadem (previously Redgoodss) has extensive experience with the unique nature of airport retailing, having previously worked at HKIA for Nuance Watson, Nuance Dufry, Fortress, and Hong Kong Disneyland, providing Shilla immense value.
As part of Diadem’s project management responsibilities, we were required to pre-select, procure and contract suppliers to meet the project’s commercial parameters, and reduce lead times to meet the program requirements. By its completion Diadem engaged and managed 14 contractors and consultants for construction, joinery and fixture manufacture, fire services, audio visual, IT, security, engineering and lighting.
It was over the initial eight-month period of planning and design, that the development of the transition strategy was developed, informing the many design and critical production related decisions as well as programming and the selection of suitable contractors. This strategy is what ultimately enabled the successful and on schedule construction of the stores, which in the early hours of December 12, 2017, the store transitions were successfully executed within the designated six-hour window and trading commenced as planned.
Immersed in 200 Brands
The design vision for Beauty&You is for an immersive retail experience, with professional advisors in engagement zones throughout the stores, which is further enhanced by significant digital elements including VR and interactive displays, including 50 screens across store fronts and curved digital screens cladding columns, making it possible to facilitate the merchandising of the 200 different brands.
Managing two hundred fashion and beauty brands was a large undertaking in itself. To aid this exercise, a significant part of Diadem’s design process was the development of generic brand guidelines for the incorporation of the multitude of brands. This was of significant value to Shilla and Diadem’s project team as a means for managing all of the brand representatives and facilitate the adoption of the brand guidelines for each. An example of the magnitude of these guidelines in practice is evidenced in the design, site phasing and installation of 300 display counters across the stores.
To ensure the design quality as well as the workmanship fulfilled expectations, extensive prototyping was undertaken leading into and during the 6-month construction period. Key features such as the ceiling decoration, lighting and air conditioning vents as well as select store facades and signage were prototyped off-site for refinement and approval.
Merchandising Display fixtures including floor and wall bays were also tested for suitability and brand application and approval by the independent brand managers. Critically, digital LCD screens were carefully sourced and selected for suitability and impact within the store design.
The end result is a truly engaging retail experience for travelers. Diadem was able to provide Shilla an experienced and dedicated project team, which helped maintain focus on the project vision whilst taking care of the endless and immense detail. The millions of passengers who transit through Hong Kong International Airport can enjoy the personalized shopping, and access over two hundred brands at any of the six Beauty&You stores situated throughout the two terminals.
About the Author:
Terry Waterhouse is one of the founding directors of Red Goodss Ltd. a multi-disciplinary design and consultancy based in Hong Kong specializing in Retail Design. In 2017, the company merged with Diadem and Terry became Diadem’s Director leading the Hong Kong/Asian office of fourteen multi-disciplined designers and project managers.
*First published on Philippine Retailing newsletter 2018 Q3 issue.