Educating and entertaining customers – according to Vanessa Keen, Head of New Business and Marketing of Design4Retail, that’s what retailers need to do to get consumers in their stores. And in-store technology plays a major role in that regard.
Mrs Keen, what are the most important trends that you currently see in shop fitting?
In our estimation, there are three major trends that shape new store concepts:
We now offer all projects with a ‘green’ option. For us, this means the clients have the flexibility to choose more environment-friendly materials and methods. Also, the option to ‘fresh up and reuse’ is a popular one; more of our projects will now last longer and be reused for campaigns in the future – removing waste from the consumer cycle by thinking about long-term sustainability.
Experiences are key in-store including sensory experiences and the use of technologies such as augmented reality, artificial intelligence, apps in-store and linking digital to online. Also, for creating a space that is more than a selling floor we see a trend towards areas of rest, space where customers can just hang out in-store without being sold to.
As well as providing experiences to engage, technology can also be used to educate. The combination of education and entertainment in-store for customers is being implemented more and more into new store concepts from the word go, for example as endless aisles, smart mirrors in place of fitting rooms, and additional product detail on command.
When you think about the growing online shopping market, how will stores attract customers to shop in-store?
A brand’s or a retailer’s online presence/persona needs to align with the in-store experience. Many people research online before entering the store. So the store needs to represent the brand’s core values, and have the look and feel that identifies and resonates with their target audience as they walk in.
Consumers are looking for more experiences as well as personalization/customization, education and a clear product navigation to help make the right choices. Consider how people can shop ‘online in-store’ and use technologies to enable them to learn and shop more easily.
What particular development do you observe on the international retail market?
Retailers we spoke to are looking for the next big thing to attract customers not just to buy, but to become loyal. This could be through disruptive instore displays, an increase in educational and playful elements, or more flexibility. Brick-and-mortar retail is not dead as some people say, consumers are still heading out to stores. But to succeed it is important to create an experience that will spark enjoyment, create a lasting memory, and have the agility to keep doing so as consumer needs change.
For this reason we loved every minute of EuroShop 2020 as it gave us the opportunity to meet up with new brands and retailers primarily discussing store design and implementation requirements as well as shop-in-shops, pop-up stores and how to engage more and create entertainment in-store for their customers.
As consumer behaviors change and social distancing becomes a built-in habit with the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe that customers will expect brands and retailers to provide a service that both assists and reassures them as they learn what is their new normal. The entire customer journey will need to be re-imagined and the number one agenda for customers will be protecting themselves and others. Future retail spaces will need to be designed or adapted so as to care for the needs of the customer, ensuring their ability to shop safely and including considerations as to how staff can serve safely. We are now having many interesting consultations with retailers and brands alike to help them support their customers as they kick-start sales.
Interview: Julia Pott