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RetailEXPO speaker Roya Sullivan of Macy's on the importance of VM

If you happened to be in New York City between 24 March and 7 April this year, you may have been fortunate enough to experience the out-of-this-world flora extravaganza at Macy’s Herald Square. The department store’s annual spring Flower Show exhibits millions of flowers, plants and trees from around the globe, and this year transported visitors into a multi-dimensional world of space, adventure and discovery.

The two-week long festival takes root in unexpected settings, including store countertops, specially designed architecture such as grand bridges and columns, and the world-famous windows.

"At Macy’s, we believe in the power of celebration, tradition, and creating a memorable customer experience," says Roya Sullivan, national director for window presentation at Macy’s. ‘We create experiences that connect the heart and mind of our customer.’

Roya Sullivan
Roya Sullivan

Sullivan, who is now installing a window scheme themed around Mother’s Day, will appear on the conference programme at next month’s RetailEXPO to share her experience in creating show-stopping visual retail displays.

"As the national director of windows at Macy’s, my focus is creating memories and experience for our customers, and retaining them year after year, passing on the tradition from one generation to another," she tells Retail Design World. "My goal is to create windows that are both visually intriguing and have clear point of view. After coming up with [a] theme, the focus is fabrication. Trying to transform thoughts into actual 3D characters with animation is the most challenging portion of the process."

Macy's Spring Flower Show
Macy's Spring Flower Show

The display team at Macy’s is focused on including animation and technology in the windows to keep up with current customer trends.

"We’ve always been interested in advancing the craft and in 2005 we added elements to all of our window displays that engage the viewer in new ways, using interactive and other technologies," adds Sullivan.

For the 2018 intergalactically-themed Christmas windows, entitled ‘Believe in the Wonder of Giving’, Sullivan and her team incorporated a custom interactive video game as well as LED backdrops and animated characters.

"Particularly around the holiday season, loyalty moments occur when our customers interact with our store windows, creating a lasting impact throughout the entire year," says Sullivan.

Macy’s is thought to be one of the first department stores to feature Christmas window displays, dating back to 1874, and they are now a holiday tradition for thousands of people. Each Christmas window display is nearly a year in the making, including 21 days and nights for installation (the 2019 concept is already in the approval and engineering stages).

Macy's Spring Flower Show
Macy's Spring Flower Show

"Customers wanted to be wowed in [the] 1870s and want to be wowed today," says Sullivan. "At Macy’s, we want to create an experience that draws the view and creates a lasting memory. That is the most important role of a visual merchandiser."

Sullivan will be speaking about creating show-stopping visual displays to attract, engage, inspire and influence customers at RetailEXPO on 2 May 2019 at 11:30-12:00 on the Store Design & Experience Stage.