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Clearly The Best Retail Experience

February 3, 2018

Clearly Eyeware: Sydney Design Award for Best Retail Experience

Clearly is the world’s largest online retailer of glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses.

Eyewear shopping has historically been a very medical based shopping experience. But our consumer insights research identified that shoppers regard their eyes as one of the most valuable pieces of ‘real estate’ when it comes to defining their fashion style.


With Cleary’s’ first physical store in the southern hemisphere, we were challenged to convert the retail experience from a ‘medical experience’ to an ‘enjoyable fashion’ based experience. Located in the Ivy complex in the Sydney CBD, we were further challenged to create a retail experience that would appeal to both daytime office workers and nighttime revellers.

Using visual merchandising in the form a 2.5m metre high rotating mirror ball, a night lights display visible from George Street, a custom scent and specially commissioned music, the Clearly store has transformed the eyewear shopping experience into a joy. The store has achieved great media coverage, incredibly positive consumer feedback, and regularly draws crowds of people to the windows who are eager to watch the spectacular nighttime sound and lights show.


The Brief

In creating Clearly’s first physical store in the southern hemisphere, we were challenged to break as many optical retail conventions as we could to create a completely new and innovative way to shop for eyewear. Typically, glasses are displayed on the walls of optical stores, are categorised by brand. Usually, glasses are tried on in one of the two or three mirrors on offer in the store. We set out to break all of these conventions by delivering a retail experience that didn’t feel like a medical appointment, but a pleasant fashion-based shopping experience.

As part of the brief, we challenged ourselves to deliver a retail experience that would be highly relevant and inspiring to each of the audience types that frequent the Ivy location, namely, busy office workers and nighttime party goers. The result is a store that, although closed, continues to draw crowds by transforming the visual merchandising feature into the centrepiece for a stunning sound and light show, that delivers joy to passers-by after hours.

Project Innovation

Firstly, we created a 2.5m high mirror ball sculpture, which is built out of carefully stacked mirrored boxes, that creates the central visual merchandising fixture. This spectacular sculpture is visible from the street and is big enough for customers to walk inside. The sculpture immediately signals to passing traffic that this is no ordinary optical store.

As well as being staffed by a highly experienced optometrist, we hired a team of stylists who are trained to help customers find the shapes, colours, and styles that best suit their fashion needs and face shapes. These stylists assist customers shop from over 500 frames in-store, as well as over 2,000 frames available online via the dedicated digital shopping bar in-store.

And for those customers who don’t want to complete the transaction in-store, we developed the technology to ensure their searches are saved and they can continue shopping seamlessly on their mobile or home computers.


Design Challenge

The store is located in a premium fashion and entertainment precinct in Sydney’s CBD. This location attracts two discrete customer profiles. By day, the passing traffic consists of busy inner-city professionals. And by night, it attracts party revelers on their way to ‘The Ivy’ nightclub.

So, we challenged ourselves to deliver a retail experience that would be highly relevant and inspiring to each audience type.

By day, the Clearly store offers CBD customers a calm and revitalising retreat from the hectic rush of CBD life. To achieve this, we used design techniques that slow the heart rate and increase dwell time.

We created a 26-minute soundtrack that combines harmonious natural sounds with relaxed grooves to help create a re-energizing environment. The tempo of the music is set at 60 beats per minute to replicate the average relaxed heart rate.

We custom designed a scent featuring ‘white tea and thyme’, which replicates the smell of a day spa to help trigger relaxed emotional states while customers shop.

Our lighting design is bright and warm, with gentle flecks of moving blue light that reflect in the mirror ball to create a stunning yet calming effect, like a diamond glistening in the spotlight.

But by night the store completely changes to capture the fun and excitement of a night on the town. And although the store is closed, we still felt there was a fantastic opportunity to connect with this very different audience.

As party revelers walk past the store at night, they are meet with an awe-inspiring sound and light installation. The high-energy dance tracks sync perfectly with the light display, which bounces off the central mirror ball sculpture as it rotates on a moving platform. This creates an inspiring display of over 500 products as the mirror ball spins.

Passing traffic is regularly seen dancing out the front of the store, as well as photographing and filming the installation on their smartphones. Customers then share their ‘find’ on social media, which has now delivered thousands of shares across all Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Great Indoors picked up the Sydney Design Award for Best Retail Experience & were Finalists at World Retail Awards – Best Store Design

Lee Hopkinson

Lee is a designer that specialises in architecture, interiors and branded environments across retail, workplace, commercial and residential projects.

Lee has worked on projects with architects and developers across UK, Europe, Australia and Asia for notable design companies Foster and Partners, MCM, Burley Katon Halliday and creative agencies 20|20, HMKM in London and e2 in Sydney.

His experience allows him to lead projects from strategic design briefs, concept design, documentation, project management and through to

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