Gem Retail Hotlist: Milly's Kitchen puts on a show

  • Design
  • November 26, 2019
  • Jai Breitnauer
Gem Retail Hotlist: Milly's Kitchen puts on a show

Milly's Kitchen was the winner of the Gem Retail Hotlist this year. We found out what the trick to outstanding visual merchandise is.

Lifestyle cookware retailer Milly’s Kitchen has been a stalwart of the Auckland retail scene since 1983. But far from resting on their laurels, the company refocuses its creativity year-on-year to successfully engage audiences, old and new, and nowhere is that spirit better encapsulated than in its regular, seasonal displays.

“At Milly’s we like to tell stories, to evoke emotion in customers, and display is really important for that,” says owner Liz Oldfield. “It allows us to bring cohesiveness to a marketing campaign, but also to see what customers are responding to and respond back. Milly’s is all about the conversation about food, and good display facilitates that.”

Since opening its first store in Ponsonby an incredible 36 years ago, Milly’s has encapsulated a dedicated following of food lovers, from professional chefs to the amateur gourmet, to those who just want the right tool for the job.

“We take great pride in being part of that food conversation,” says Oldfield. “We are all from the hospitality industry and we like to think people are going to head out of here with knowledge on how to use a new product, how to look after it, how to get the best from it. What is right for them? It’s about making their life easier, not pushing a sale over the line.”

Display helps people understand what is right for them and their kitchen, it helps them make decisions with the support of knowledgeable staff, and it also encourages them to try new things, to take an interest in aspects of food creation they may not have considered yet. 

“We ask the customer questions, match them to the right product,” says Oldfield. “People feel a connection with the displays. We had a strong honey and lemon focus a few months ago which people loved, and the Le Crueset display was very strong, although we don’t necessarily plan displays around brands. We try to tell a story, to talk about slow cooking or preserving, for example. We pull elements from lots of different brands.”

How customers respond to a display feeds in to the next campaign, with interest seeding further interest. By listening to the market, and taking an active role in the conversation around food trends, Milly’s can utilise display to help customers take the active next step in their kitchenware journey, with the support of a knowledgeable team on the floor. 

This story originally appeared in NZ Retail issue 764 October/November 2019.

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