Off to the races with David Jones

David Jones Spring Racing“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether 20 or 80.” – Henry Ford

Over 87 years old, still learning new tricks and not afraid to be adventurous, could describe our grandparents (or great grandparent?) or is it, in fact, David Jones?

David Jones was born in 1838, the year that saw the coronation of Queen Victoria and the world’s first telegram developed by Samuel Morse. (David Jones’ UK sibling, Harrods, is only four years older and an icon of British and global retailing).

Certainly an old retail dog (in the kindest sense) is still learning new tricks in becoming omnichannel and reinforcing the adage that is about taking your brand to the masses, from digital to online to event retailing.

I was reminded that ‘event’ retailing seems to have faded a little into the background, after all isn’t ‘fit’ retailing about creating retail events that resonate, presenting your offer in a different light (literally), and continuing to remain curious and interesting to our customer.

David Jones in 1938

David Jones in 1938

Having an event strategy on the retail calendar was certainly a prerequisite to success whereby retailers would target major calendar events and create stories, campaigns and events that demonstrated that unusual brand image.

With great fondness for a one-time boss of mine, years ago, who said that retail is theatre; our brand, shops and website are the stage and we introduce events to excite and inspire our patrons.

Today we see digital, omnichannel and virtual event of what it is to be a retailer in the physical sense.

When we were in Melbourne last week, we came across David Jones’ spring carnival racing pop up. David Jones and Myer are seen by many to be the ultimate traditional Australian retailer, and yet here was a concept pop up store looking fresh, engaging and easily competing within the field of innovation.

Vikki from our marketing and global insights team went in for a closer look:

On entry you are greeted by two gentlemen in bow ties handing you a glass of champagne and strawberries from a vintage ice cream cart – instantly immersing the customer into the spirit of the races. Cleverly your pace suddenly slows, and your purpose for visiting the store changes from a ‘quick browse’ to taking time to enjoy the races experience brought to the heart of Bourke Street. A DJ in the corner of the store makes the store experience feel like an event in itself.

The merchandise, while the same stock as held in David Jones across the road, is displayed using colour blocking, print contrasts and exaggerated spacing giving a more premium feel to the stock.

DJs Spring Racing pop up

Adding to the premium store experience, many sales assistants are on hand to provide a personalised shopping experience, and guide you to a perfectly composed races outfit from the best of Australian designer fashion, millinery, accessories, handbags, shoes and sunglasses.

Expert make-up artists man stations from brands such as Clinique and YSL, as well as an OPI Nail Bar to match colour palettes with outfits and provide a whole look ready to step straight out into the races.

Open all through race season until November 8, the pop up concept will continue to celebrate the races season in style with more makeover opportunities, giveaways, and celebrity appearances from David Jones ambassadors and designers.

This is the first time David Jones have had a pop up store dedicated to the spring carnival races, and it is certainly a clever move to take advantage of the huge retail opportunity the race season brings as well as refresh their positioning in the market. The store has a premium feel, it’s immersive, experiential and brings back the value proposition of David Jones being your go-to retailer for your whole races look.

This is a great example of a back to basics retail approach that will never age. Innovation does not necessarily have to come from digital technology or ‘being omnichannel’.

Visual merchandising is your silent salesperson, your store is a humanisation of your brand, so immerse your customers in a unique and memorable store experience, and you will gain not only through sales but through building trust and loyalty.

Retail consultant and advisor, Brian Walker is founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group and can be contacted on (02) 9460 2882 or

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