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SO Showcase

03 December 2014

Plot and Setting: How to Let Your Products Tell Your Story

As a retailer, you are in the story telling business, and your merchandise is the plot. While the products may update from year to year, like the plot line in a book, they follow the same classic themes. From the Odyssey to The Lord of the Rings, the plots remain, but by infusing them with a new setting and introducing new characters, we attract more people to “rediscover a story for the first time.”

So where does the story start? Museum curators are experts in their chosen field, and retailers are experts on their merchandise – both are critical components of the story. From the inception of a design project they provide the content, “characters,” and a cohesive storyline to be unraveled with exact timing throughout the customer journey – building trust and engaging customers in the tale.

However, neither curator nor retailer possess the knowledge or expertise to design and build a display, or “setting” themselves. Their expertise begins and ends with the items that are displayed. Plot, character, and setting are tied together to create the central theme and messaging for the story of your brand.

Unique to the museum world, prototyping is a critical process to ensuring that clients are satisfied with how the exhibit will look and function. While it may be tempting to take a “been there, done that” attitude towards store design in order to meet tight deadlines, it can end up costing you more than just money if the product doesn’t meet your brand’s requirements. A rugged adventure is a great story if you sell high-end outdoor gear, but it doesn’t work for luxury jewellery that demands a sense of drama. If the story you’re telling isn’t cohesive, your customers become confused and lose interest.


Retailers should adapt the prototyping process, especially when planning
display requirements for a large retail chain.

Retailers can and should adapt the prototyping process – especially if display space is limited – or when planning display for a large retail chain. Accessibility to your story is a large part of engaging your clientele. While a certain level of creativity is involved on all levels, designing and technically developing a prototype of your retail vision is critical to ensuring that your display cases are providing the right backdrop for your products. An author doesn’t put pen to paper before developing a plot outline, and neither should you. A working prototype allows you to test how the design will function, and how it best fits into your space.


A prototype can help you determine how the design elements tie into your story.

Function isn’t the only element that benefits from prototyping. A prototype can help you determine how the design elements tie into your story. Glass, lighting, material finishes, security and durability issues can rise to the surface during this part of the process and can prevent costly mistakes. Compromising the quality of workmanship results in an overlooked cost – the experiential cost – for you and your brand. These details add depth to the retail setting, enhancing the ability of the display to deliver a story that your customers want to revisit again and again.

At SO Showcases, we have been working with retailers for three decades to create display cases that reveal the story chapter by chapter. We can help you bring your ideas to life, and capture the attention of your clientele. Call us at 905-895-3232 to talk about your display options.