It takes several steps to create a retail display but one of the most high profile steps is design. Design helps to shape the perception of a product, communicate to the customer, and ultimately sell products! Spectas’ own Matt Suffern, does exactly this as Creative Director. We asked Matt some questions about his role as a designer, his creative process, and his job in general. 

What does your average day at Spectas look like?

Matt Suffern: An average day is tough to describe since they're so varied! One of the great things about working in the POP (Point of Purchase) industry is the array of designs we work on in any given week. I could be designing anything from a basic black wire rack for Frito Lay or a whimsical liquor display for Hendrick's Gin to a clean and simple floor stand for a new Pepsi initiative. The common tasks that take place on most days include kickoff calls with the sales force and clients in order to define the parameters of a new project (size, capacity, look-and-feel, budget, etc.), and exploratory sketching to develop new ideas. I winnow those ideas down to a smaller number to model in 3D and output an appealing set of renderings for client review. I also develop prototype and production artwork as needed.

Describe your design process when a customer requests a new retail display for their product.

Matt Suffern: We try to get as many variables as possible defined during the open rounds of the project. It's important to know not only objective factors like capacity and overall size but also subjective factors like what the client is trying to achieve with the display. Are they trying to break into a new market niche? Consolidate one they already have a foothold in? Is it a new store environment for the client? Who is their typical customer and what are said customer's buying habits? In Design we're used to operating "without a safety net," i.e. with more than a few blanks on the initial project brief, but the more we know, the better we can channel the client's vision for the display.

Where do you draw design inspiration when creating displays for our Spectas customers?

Matt Suffern: From anywhere and everywhere! Personally and overall, I tend to be inspired by the architectural world, but the nature of the display to be designed will tend to dictate where we look for inspiration. For a sporting goods display, we'll look to the theme and motifs of the sport for which the equipment is intended. A display for toys will have brighter colors and softer forms (depending on the toy). And a wine-and-spirits display will tend to carry the themes of whatever brand it's promoting.

What information provided by customers has been most helpful to you when designing a retail display? 

Matt Suffern: We love to hear what makes the client excited about the product or service they're displaying! It's those drivers in the client's mind that dictate the more concrete aspects like budget, capacity, size, and "look and feel".  The more enthusiastic a client is about their product or service, the easier it is for us to be inspired to create a knock-out set of concepts.

What would you recommend to potential customers who are interested in custom designs but may not know where to begin? 

Matt Suffern: I think it's most important for the client to know who their target customer is and what their shopping habits are. Knowing that will help them decide how much of their budget they want to allocate to the display and will help nail down key parameters like the retail channel, capacity, and overall size.

What designs have you been noticing in retail display lately? 

Matt Suffern: One of the big trends I see is related to giving the customer an experience. With the rise of internet shopping, it's key to give the customer a reason to venture out and shop at retail, and an experience is a fundamental distinction between the two channels. The experience can range from no-holds-barred interactive multimedia elements, like touchscreens and augmented reality, to unique and appealing shapes and elements that give the customer a visual experience, so to speak. That's a key emerging trend.