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My IRDC by Gina Mercatili (Class of 2012)

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My IRDC by Gina Mercatili (Class of 2012) - Merchandising Coordinator, Barclays Center

LIM College alumna Gina Mercatili recently attended the 2013 International Retail Design Conference (IRDC), where she participated in a panel discussion on “Visual Merchandising in the Age of ‘Showrooming.'” Moderated by Eric Feigenbaum, Chair of LIM College’s Visual Merchandising Department, the panel also included Matt Reed, Vice President for Visual Merchandising at Saks Fifth Avenue, and Ignaz Gorischek, Senior Vice President of Store Development at Neiman Marcus.

LIM College - International Retail Design Conference

The message resonating with me since that final day in the beautiful city of Vancouver is how imperative it is for retail to survive – through the power to tell a compelling story. We must provide experiences instead of just handing over receipts. Now is the time to make memories, and visual retail design has never been more globally united in this quest. I sat in rooms of dreamers and doers, not competitors. If we want to create excellent retail environments we, in turn, must be equally excellent.

Our shops tell the tales of what corporate executives envision when they close their eyes and reflect on their brand’s potential. It was said our culture is now in a “phy-gital” stage between physical and digital retail experiences. However, after three days of networking lunches, keynote speeches, shared open visions, group city outings, and, of course, the panel which I spoke on, it all made sense that the gifts technology offers retailers today are yet another tool in our toolbox and in no way pose a threat to the physical shops we stare at photographs of and admire.

Technology triggers the desire, while the store is, and will always be, the final landing spot on a consumer’s trek on the path to purchase an experience.

The caliber of industry intellect in one room was not daunting, it was purely enchanting. Simply put, just knowing something as stimulating – dare I say, life -affirming – as the International Retail Design Conference exists would soothe a young creative mind for a time… but the opportunity I had to speak alongside seasoned professionals about the expansive digital opportunity retail has to enrich the world of brick and mortar stores allowed me to fully realize how fortunate I am to have had such an exemplary education at LIM College.

LIM College - Roundtables

The heroes of the LIM College Visual Merchandising Department have provided and will continue to provide me, and any student who has a passion to grow, with beautiful opportunities for as long as the mind keeps open and the heart stays whole. There are only so many times I can say thank you to so many extraordinary people. A greater thanks I can give is using everything I learned from this conference in my own work and continuing to strive for excellence through education and innovation.

Topics: fashion industry, visual merchandising