Shopping Paradise at Rituals Cosmetics | Richard Lems

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“Rituals’ philosophy is to transform daily routines into meaningful moments.” Inspired by the ancient traditions of Asian cultures, Rituals Cosmetics creates collections of luxurious yet affordable products for home and body. 

MiND talked to Richard Lems, Director of Format & Design, to learn more about Rituals’ stores and brand values.

Richard Lems, Director of Format & Design at Rituals Cosmetics.

Since he was a child, Richard has always been interested in retail, visual merchandising and window dressing. Always asking himself “why are they doing this? Why would you enter the store?”, little by little he found the answers and started his career in retail.

During an internship he did for Albert Heijn, one of the biggest grocery stores in the Netherlands and Belgium, he understood the power of VM even in a supermarket. “It’s interesting because people don’t feel it, but still supermarkets guide you through the store.” From that moment he knew he wanted to work in this field and he immediately found a job for a big retail chain in the Netherlands called Blokker, working as a Manager. He then moved to the Store Development Department and was responsible for the format, design and visual merchandising of the stores.

Holding that position for 12 years, in 2007 he then moved to Rituals Cosmetics as Director of Format & Design. “At that time, we had 7 stores and now, 12 years later, we have more than 800 stores and around 3.5 thousand shop-in-shop locations, such as Douglas and Macy’s in the US”, said Richard.

Rituals Cosmetics premium store in Breda, The Netherlands.

“Whenever you see a Rituals store, it’s created by the Format & Design department”. In fact, beside the e-commerce, his team is responsible for every store from travel stores at airports to shops inside department stores.

With his team of 55 people, Richard explains that they do everything in-house. Designers, merchandisers and creators on the one hand, and construction managers, procurement and operational staff on the other. All together, they do everything from the merchandising to the shop fronts and the price tags. It’s very important to know the real identity of Rituals Cosmetics and it’s difficult when you have to explain exactly what you want to people coming from outside of the company.

Starting from the creation process, the Format & Design team passes to the execution process and the procurement. “Every year we build around 120 new stores and we do around 40-50 relocations and renovations. We roll-out between 170-200 new projects per year”, explains Richard.

Rituals Cosmetics premium store in Breda, The Netherlands.

As an expert in store development and design, Richard Lems describes the retail design industry today and the trends that are coming next in store design. Technology is extremely important in today’s store design. “Ten years ago, when screens where a big thing, we decided not to have them in our stores  just for the sake of having them.”

“I’ve always seen Rituals stores as a slow shopping paradise, you don’t want to see technology in them”.

This doesn’t mean that Rituals doesn’t use technology, but when used, they need a useful purpose. Entertaining your customers, and providing a good experience is the main objective for a retailer. All stores should be experiential. It’s important to have a good service, a good price and a good feeling. “No matter what the product is, people want to remember the moment they purchased it.”

Besides their stores, Rituals has an e-commerce shop that is available from all devices and the Rituals App that gives customers accessibility to their products anytime and anywhere. According to Richard, the internet is part of the whole journey. It won’t take over. Retail will always exist. You don’t have to see them as two different things but as one. “We complement each other. It doesn’t matter where the customer buys our products, whether in department stores or in our stores or online, it’s more about getting in contact with our brand”, he said.

Rituals Cosmetics premium store in Breda, The Netherlands.

Strolling around Barcelona, MiND entered a Rituals store and received a warm welcome from the shop assistant who offered a cup of tea. Within a Rituals store you can notice their philosophy when every customer is welcomed with a cup of tea and they get the chance to try all the products. “That cup of tea is part of all our selling ceremony. People get a relaxed feeling straight away. We think it’s important that people feel comfortable in the store“, explained Richard.

“A smile on a customer’s face after a shopping experience at Rituals stores is the best promotion we can have”

When we asked Richard what people should feel when entering a Rituals Store, he explained that an essential part of their stores is light. The level of light must go down when a person enters the store. “Our customers must feel comfortable, like if they were at home”. All Rituals products can be tested and smelled.

Especially nowadays that people are busy with their jobs, with keeping up with their social media and living with a lot of pressure, it’s important sometimes to slow down and relax, and take a moment for yourself. Part of Rituals’ value is to help people take that moment for themselves and enjoy it.

Rituals Cosmetics premium store in Breda, The Netherlands.

“Slow down and find a moment of peace in the ebb and flow of your daily life”

The Format & Design department applies Rituals’ key values to everything, from how they build a store, to creating new products, or hiring new people.

In the last 12 years, Richard’s role has changed substantially but he will never forget his first project in Belgium, where he designed his first Rituals store. “Every store is special in its own way.” With dark and high-quality display systems, Rituals stores still convey a cozy and warm feeling. “We don’t have shiny and colorful display systems because products have to stand out and speak for themselves”. Indeed, a big percentage of Rituals’ customers are male, “they don’t feel threatened when they enter our stores”, explained Richard.

MiND would like to wish Richard and his team good luck for their future projects!

By: Lisa Zanon