A few words with Johannes Lagerås, Creative Director at WorkShop

A few weeks ago, I received a new order confirmation mail from Sweden. While checking the delivery address, I found that someone from WorkShop purchased Fashion Goes Tech, my latest book. I didn’t hesitate to connect to Johannes and know more about the award-winning agency. So, I’m very excited to introduce you to the Creative Director at WorkShop.

Johannes Lagerås is industrial designer and studied at KTH The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. Unlike most his fellow graduates he has been working with retail concepts all his career. He started out in a position at Urban Outfitters establishing their concept in Scandinavia, and there after he has worked at different agencies developing all sorts of commercial and hospitality concepts on a global scale. He describes himself as a generalist within retail which often enables him to bring new perspectives to various markets.

TFR: What’s WorkShop?

JL: Workshop defines itself as a full service (retail) experience company. It was started in 1979 and has been following demand and clients throughout the years. The 2021 version of Workshop has a three-part offering: Concepts, Digital Activations and Staff Operations, all with a strong focus on digitally led innovations (proven by data). We have offices in Scandinavia, Paris and Amsterdam, and we are part of a global network called Advantage Smollan.

Next Gen Retail Hub – WorkShop’s own and self designed co-work space (and HQ) for like minded companies and people.

TFR: According to WorkShop, “the perfect store is dead. Long live the perfect shopper journey”. Are physical stores dead? Will Department Stores survive? What does the CX journey across all channels looks like?

JL: Traditional retail is (or rather has been for some time now) facing a slow “death”. But maybe more correct would be to say – “the physical stores are not dead, but their traditional role is”.

As you write in your book, which I really do recommend reading, we need to see the store as an equal part of the whole consumer journey, and not the final destination.

At Workshop we have been working with identifying the true values of the store, and how we then can steer traffic from in-store to on-device and vice versa in a loop.

The solution is not forcing traffic through touchpoints with discounts and sales. It is rather how you unlock the store experience and build your community by catering to – and linking – the in-store and on-device experience.

TFR: How do you think companies will face the post covid-19 period concerning their retail footprint presence? Do you feel Department Stores are going to struggle more than High Street stores?

JL: We have been working with a number of department stores and real estate managers recent years. And many of them have been heavily relying on retailers and their individual “pull-effect”. But that is not the case anymore and now they come to us for guidance.

Department Stores and Market places often need to develop their unique identity and community, the retailers are just the ingredients, not the meal.

High Street stores can’t just sit back just because they are in a good location. Now that consumers are being both comfortable and high in demand, retailers need to develop their store concept and define its purpose in their consumer journey.

B2C Swedish Match, Community catering café for Swedish snus company

TFR: What Millennials and new generations expect from brands?

JL: We ARE what we wear, what we eat and what we do. Millennials, but even more – Gen Z and coming generations will be even pickier and demand more intimate connections with brands and retailers. Scoring high on sustainability, offering tailored experiences and wowing their consumers are the new hygiene factors.

TFR: Retail is turning into Retailtainment, partnering or incorporating talent from the media industry. Maybe RedBull was the first of its kind to go from a product-oriented company to a marketing power/media and entertainment company. Do you feel this is going to be the new normal?

JL: We gather inspiration and clues on what to come from many industries. Studying the experience economy trends and the themed entertainment industry are interesting points of reference. At Workshop we believe that once we are through pandemic there will be a general need and buzz to return to “normal” – the joy of shopping, attend concerts and visit restaurants, amongst others.

BUT, in a short term, consumers will ask for more – what have retailers developed in the last couple of years? We have new needs now, demanding much more in terms of experience, brand connection, logistic solutions and much more. We need to cater to that new reality.

Nike Activation in Store

TFR: WorkShop “delivers creative, scalable and data driven initiatives that transform shoppers into brand fans”. What are WorkShop’s solutions about?

JL: In short, we have a wide offering – doing everything from Brand Identity, Concepts to Digitally enforced activities, Staff operation and Category management. Having all these capabilities sets us in a position to offer our clients what they need the most. Not forcing a specific solution.

But we perform our best when we combine our offerings into a total omni solution – proven by data, our experience and holistic values.  

TFR: With regard to data driven initiatives, how is the creative approach to customer experience in the digital era?  Are you including AI, Virtual or Augmented Reality, IoT, amongst other technologies in your projects?

JL: Yes, very much so. We are semi experts in the actual tech, but true experts in what value tech brings to the consumer experience. We have partnered up with agencies to then develop and implement the tech at hand (AR, WR, IoT, etc)

TFR: Could you mention a real business case and the benefits for both brand and its customers?

JL: We work with H&M on a global strategic level, developing their flagship format and identifying what is “local” and bespoke for key markets. It has been interesting to define what local is in Amsterdam vs New York, without being cliché or trying to push something you’re not. Hopefully we will see the outcome of this the coming year.

TAP TRY BUY, Pomelos own version of click & collect in store.

Another recent case is Pomelo, a digitally native fashion brand in Southeast Asia. Since the Pomelo customer already uses the app for on-device shopping, we created a customer journey in store where the app is the key to unlock and experience all parts of the brand and the store. The new store concept has led to a number of benefits for both brand and customer – such as increased sales (regardless touchpoint), brand experience, store traffic and community acquisition. Check it out!

Nationalmuseum, WorkShop developed service elements for a total omni visitor experience.

TFR: Do you feel Fashion is becoming more science than creativity? (e.g. Nike acquired Datalogue and Celect) 

JL: Haha, maybe. Naturally it is a mix. If we can use science and data to create more personal and bespoke offerings, and then let creativity and inspiration shine and be more customer facing. Then we are in a good place!

If you have any question or would like to contact Johannes, this is his mail johannes.lageras@work-shop.se


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