3 December 2018

Creative Talk with Chris Hancock, Retail Dimension


CT Chris Hancock December 2018


Creative Talk is with Chris Hancock, General Manager Client Services at RD (Retail Dimension).  We talk about the design team, their venture into Australia and how they tackle the mammoth projects.


What is the core focus of RD?


Delivering custom retail solutions. From design, manufacture through to full fit-out, signage, expos & activations, technology innovation and project management. RD is an end-to-end provider for our clients when it comes to creating and delivering their retail environment (both temporary and permanent).  Basically, we do all or part of the above and we’re really good at collaborating with our customers to deliver the best environment for them.


How did you come to join the team & what skills have you added to the mix?


Through word of mouth and mutual connections, I met with the two Directors and the three of us hit it off. My previous work experience is a little unique, and my working style is slightly different which compliments theirs. We’ve managed to grow the business through acquisition of new accounts and additional types of work for our existing base, and my focus has been growth of our NZ business, adding value at the beginning of the process, managing our clients and evolving our design process.


I didn’t realise just how large RD’s footprint is – you have been keeping that quiet?


RD has had phenomenal growth purely through the teams’ commitment to their clients and the passion to deliver extraordinary results for them. Our growth has been organic, based on word of mouth and always going that extra mile to offer a seamless service. We’ve only recently recruited a Marketing Manager as the design, innovation and calibre of projects coming out of this team is too good to keep quiet! The business keeps evolving and our clients trust us, so we’re frequently asked to develop and partner on new - initiatives.


With offices in Auckland and Melbourne, do you have a crossover of clients between the two offices?


We saw a gap in the Australian market for a full-service business like RD. Two of our larger corporate clients encouraged us to take the leap. A lot of our future growth will come from our trans-tasman partnerships. It’s an exciting market for us.


Along with the design led / manufacturing side of the business, you also foray into digital – can you elaborate?


This expansion of our offer is due to the exciting disruption occurring within the retail environment. Every new retail environment has an element of new technology and our clients frequently challenge us to find ways to keep consumers engaged longer in-store.  At the root of our business we are still very much ‘bricks and mortar’ but the merge of technology, and the desire to engage with customers in unique and innovative ways, offers a new pathway of growth for us. RD provides bespoke solutions from LED walls, facial recognition systems, and augmented reality environments to custom-built CMS systems to support our technology. Development of virtual reality environments for clients is also a huge part of our design process. All of this is developed and managed in-house, and we see this as added value rather than plugging into another stream of work.


You work with some major corporates nationwide – do you also do one off projects for smaller clients?


We do; nationwide rollouts are our specialty, but if a one-off project feels like the right fit for us and the client, and we can see exciting opportunities to deliver them a bespoke environment that will enhance their brand and customer engagement, we certainly look to engage. Our website gives you some great examples.


Combining creativity with business thinking is an essential part of the branding process, how do you balance this throughout each project?


Everything that we deliver has had a creative touch, whether through the creative talent of our designers, the craftmanship of our manufacturing team, or the insights from our sales and projects team who always have their finger on the pulse when it comes to merging functionality of form with innovation of future trends. A big point of difference is our design team, they work closely with our joinery business to ensure design meets build.


You are experts in enhancing customer experience, working with many of NZs biggest retail and service providers. Where do you start with these mammoth projects?


We listen. The client always understands their customers, the problem they want to solve and/or the vision they have for their brand. We take all this information, mix it with our insights and experience, and then take the client on a journey to articulate and bring to life these components through an environment that has been methodically thought out, is well-crafted, executed and managed every step of the way


You have an excellent design team in-house, how do you decide who works on what project?


Our design team really is our secret weapon. We have a team of 18 spatial, industrial and graphic designers. Our workflow manager and Creative Director help select the right people to work on each project. Our work is so diverse, it’s important that we use a solid design approach. We frequently use multiple disciplines across our business to deliver a project, including our CAD, project management and construction teams. The benefit is, we design for build, this of course helps our joinery and construction business, as I said, it’s important that we keep them involved through each stage.


Tell us about your current creative inspirations?


We work closely with our clients, their design partners, architects and project teams. We get involved early in the process, whether we are conceptualising or not. We’ve got three exciting, innovative projects on the go right now. All going well, they’ll change the way that consumers interact with our clients. Some of our methodology is using clients well established apps more intuitively in their retail environment. Our creative inspiration comes from all our team members, and we encourage our staff to be bold and challenge the thinking. Our clients love visiting us, they get to see where the project is at, through any stage of the process - whether it’s a scamp on the wall or a half-built prototype in our factory. We don’t do the traditional ‘ta da’, here’s your finished concept, in fact, we insist on our clients being engaged throughout the journey.


What has been your highlight to date at RD?


Working in a business that has something tangible that you can touch, drive past and say I was a part of that. Many of our clients have worked with RD for 10 years, it’s seriously a trusted, respected relationship. My highlight; An innovative LED digital screen and fridge installation for BP, working with a client that challenged us to go big and change the way that food is sold, plus working with Krispy Kreme and being delivered their doughnuts throughout the process and eating them fresh straight off the doughnut line.


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