A retail store design is full of possibilities. Frank Dittel from Dittel Architekten GmbH highlights the role the merging of online and offline worlds plays as a service – and lets us in on the concepts he personally likes best.
Mr. Dittel, today’s store design has to juggle many roles at once: storytelling, customer experience, and digital elements. How can you make this work?
To create a successful store design, you first and foremost have to take a strategic perspective of brick-and-mortar retail and the increasing expectations of a discerning and demanding generation of consumers. We believe store design is effective when it considers many critical success factors whose spatial interpretation creates an experience. This includes the right approach to flexibility, excellent service, building a strong customer base, a curated collection and mastering a smart customer approach across digital and analog channels – also by embracing a spatial integration of offline and online choices. The role of the design concept is to translate the powerful brand identity into the space. It can be very loud, flashy and colorful or take more of a backseat and be minimalist and pure. What’s crucial is that it tells the story of the unique brand, is authentic and creates emotional connections.
How can personal service be promoted by shopfitting from an architect’s perspective?
This requires an analysis of the customers’ primary motives for coming into the store. If a relaxed ambience that prompts you to stay longer in-store is the customer’s top priority, lounge furniture and service convenience are the right choices. If customers are predominantly focused on information and transparency in terms of product selection or seek brand interaction, shopfitting can support digital technologies with standing furniture concepts for example. For our “Mußler Beauty by Notino” project we integrated a sink with a green wall where products can be tested and explained on the spot. These types of exclusive live activities are reinforced or actually brought to life by innovative shopfitting ideas.
How must a shop be designed for you personally to want to visit and spend time in-store?
I prefer a floor plan that prompts me to move intuitively, carefully selected – even staged – product choices that make the identity of the concept come to life for me, a relaxed and/or exciting ambience that invites me to stay longer and -of course- a unique design that stimulates and inspires me and tempts me to spend money – thanks to the overall concept or just one unique detail. Service is another important factor for me to connect with a store – that might be qualified and authentic staff or convenient and customer-friendly systems thanks to the merging of online and offline worlds: I buy a product at the store and it is sent to my home (shop & deliver); I can test a product I ordered online at the store and get customer service (click & collect).