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By: RETHINK Retail

Meet the TRI Q&A: Tim Nash

Get to know RETHINK Retail’s Top Retail Influencers through the “Meet the TRI” Q&A series! Dive in to learn about a member of the thought leader community and follow their work and insights across our content and their social channels.

Tim Nash is Chief Thinker at iiiF, Creative Director at Wild VC and Curator of Shop Drop Daily.

“Tell us about your background.”

I’ve worked creatively in the retail industry for nearly twenty years, designing and delivering memorable activations and strategies for some of the coolest (in my eyes) brands along the way. Winning some awards and accolades while at it.

From a shop floor start at French Connection to heading up global Visual Merchandising departments for Fred Perry, Topman and Jack Wills, I currently direct creative for a Brand Activation Agency, working with diverse businesses to bring them to life IRL. I also curate Shop Drop Daily, retail’s go to visual resource in addition to challenging brand creativity through my work as Chief Creative Thinker at iiiF.

“Can you give a brief description of your current role and your space in the industry.”

My role as a creative thinker involves challenging our clients and inhouse team to connect all the dots and craft engaging physical activations that truly inspire and captivate their audiences. For me it’s all about blending mediums IRL to transform traditional spaces into dynamic stages where brand stories unfold.

“What challenges/opportunities are currently facing retailers?”

There is such an exciting opportunity for brands to connect with their consumer IRL. Traditional retail is dead which is a big challenge for corporate businesses that have legacy infrastructure and vast store portfolios. However for those willing to embrace a new and innovative way of delivering physical activations there is an exciting (albeit very different) future ahead.

“What hot topics or trends have you been seeing in the retail space?”

It’s most certainly a move into more temporary activations that deliver a must visit brand moment to life. Driven by more collaborative storytelling there is a desire for brands to communicate physically with their audience IRL. Fueled by a visual social stream the consumer is more knowledgeable than ever, intensifying the clamor for tactile experiences that bring that noise to life.

“How do you support these hot topics?”

For me it’s all about harnessing the power of that individual ‘moment’. I’ve been curating Shop Drop Daily for 18 months and whilst each daily example is completely unique in the visual make up they all share the same intrinsic core of physically connecting with the consumer in a way that just can’t be done digitally. Whilst we may all appreciate the convenience of Amazon the delivery of a brown cardboard box doesn’t leave a lasting emotional impression in quite the same way.

“How has the retail industry changed in the past 5 years? What do you predict will happen in the next 5 to 10 years?”

Accelerated in part because due to the pandemic and fueled by the rise in how we engage digitally there has been a systemic change in what consumers expect from a shopping experience. No longer can retailers open the doors to white boxes filled with products and expect people to purchase. Customers want the physical space to be relevant, fresh and exciting whilst offering much more than a transactional process they can get online. Five years ago we were talking about online vs offline, now it’s all about a seamless transition between all of the touchpoints. In the future that is only going to be further enhanced by the ability for brands to cross pollinate experiences both physical and virtually.

“Do you have any interesting projects coming up?”

There is always something interesting on the go! This year there certainly has been an exciting shift in the types of projects we are working on. Historically we would implement concepts that had been conceived by the brand or their chosen design partners. However now I am getting much more involved in the strategic thinking and overarching concept curation which I really thrive on. Retailers are finding navigating the future of space a challenge, especially when it comes to connecting up the internal conversations between product, marketing, social and visual. Hence starting iiiF, as a way to stand out from the traditional design agency model by questioning the norm.

“Which resources do you use to keep up with industry news?”

Can I say Shop Drop Daily? What started as a bit of a folly now fuels my everyday thinking! The purpose behind it was to highlight how retail does have a future despite all the negativity surrounding the industry, and I am very proud of how it has been embraced. Aside from SDD I like to keep myself well informed on all topics really across art, design, economics and technology by reading newspapers, magazines (yep I’m all about the physical) and bouts of insta-scrolling.

“What is the greatest challenge the industry is facing?”

Incumbent infrastructure is a challenge across the board. From lengthy and inflexible property leasing to traditional corporate structures there is an industry rigidity that restricts reactive and innovative thinking. Retail needs to become more organic and fluid to really embrace the opportunities ahead.

“How do you continue to grow and develop as an influencer in the retail industry?”

I’m constantly consuming. For me it’s about always looking and learning, I work in an industry that is always evolving and I thrive on newness and innovation. I try to translate that knowledge into attainable ideas and insights to share with my community. I use my voice to inspire and educate by sharing thoughts that highlight how retails future lies in thinking outside the box.

“What are the most critical changes that we must make to face the future effectively?”

Embracing change and challenging traditions! Historically retail has been built on processes, moving from department to department over a period of time. It was tried and tested, and worked exceptionally well for a long period of time. I was lucky to work for brands that went on expansive global growth, supported by well oiled structures and cookie-cutter formats. The industry was safe yet scalable. Now almost overnight that has changed. Consumers want newness and innovation, they demand individual experiences that captivate and engage. To deliver that requires agility, collaboration and creative thinking!

“Who is making the greatest advancements in the industry, and what are they doing?”

The luxury brands are most definitely embracing the new world of retail. Combining physical experiences, events and activations alongside exclusive products, collaborations and technological installations. You just have to look to Louis Vuitton’s partnership with Yayoi Kusama for the way in which a brand can capture the imagination across multiple touchpoints globally. What’s exciting is how this thinking is translating throughout the industry. Coach has blown me away in the past six months with the way they have begun to reimagine how they deliver IRL installations. From subway stations to a fully fledged airplane they are showing how brands can capture the imagination of their audience through socially shareable statements.

“What has helped you get to where you are and what advice would you have for others who want to set off in a similar direction?”

I have been lucky to have worked with some amazing people who have given me the freedom to grow and develop within my roles whilst challenging and championing me in equal measure. Hard work doesn’t go a miss, along with a desire to learn. I’ve been thrown into so many unique situations throughout my career and it’s all about embracing and absorbing them. Some of my best learnings have come when I was least expecting them.

“What is the best resource for people who want to dive in deeper?”

You can’t beat going out and looking. Although I get inspired on a daily basis searching out the best projects for me there is nothing better than visiting spaces in person, soaking up the atmosphere and stimulating the senses.

“Is there anything we’re leaving out here that needs to be addressed?​​”

The elephant in the room at the moment is most definitely AI and what it means for the industry. The opportunities it opens up for brands to reimagine space is so exciting. I am a huge advocate on how it creates a whole new level of exploration and fresh thinking. If you want an activation on the moon it’s now possible and as someone who wants to push out of the traditional box that is incredibly invigorating!

Follow Tim & Shop Drop Daily on LinkedIn.