What are some of the most dominating design trends in retail today?
Brands have character, history and personality. Fundamentally, there are two approaches in terms of retail design today: one is focusing on the strong visuals and radical appearance of the brand and the second is defining variations on a specific common theme, creating elements of surprise in it. The concepts and themes are predominantly related to the customer’s experience and interaction with the space, the social/environmental awareness and, ultimately, the brand’s values.
With the advent of e-commerce, how can retail design address this issue?
Designers need to think about how to be remembered. We portray this ‘motto’ in the spaces, which will talk for the brand. It is important to draw consumers’ attention to the spatial experience, either through surprising elements, digital and interactive space tools or, unifying consistently within the brand stores. Understand the product, the story behind it as well as the consumer’s needs, wishes, aspirations and give them ‘brandscaping’. We cannot forget the ‘try before you buy’ but a space needs to appeal to the customer enough to desire an offline experience.
Could you shed some light on how retail design focuses and values customer experiences more than possessions?
The focus should always be on “brand identity” and brand values. Nowadays, we design sensory experiences, rather than just retail spaces. Moreover, the ‘touch’ experience from the customer is going to enable interaction, diversity and give data to the brand and the designers, in order to develop its products and spaces. Visual merchandising is one of the most important tools for a brand to succeed, as it uses the customers data to transform into space experience, understanding the market needs, sales activity and footfalls. Consider the window display that attracts and calls the consumer in, to the layout and displays, the use of digital media like sensory screens and other sensory tools, like spraying perfumes and tasting food. Another trend in retail are pop-up stores, where the designer must develop temporary and unforgettable experiences for the consumer.
How is technology influencing retail design?
Retail stores are adopting tools such as: digital mirrors, which give you a more realistic view of how the product will suit the consumer, and digital tags, which include all products’ features, pricing, sizes, colours and enable the product network. For example, if a store doesn’t have a particular product in a specific colour, size, etc, it will connect to the nearest store/warehouse to have it delivered.
Which factors are important for creating the “store of the future”?
Creating the store of the future implies identifying the intrinsic values of the brand and the subconscious aspirations of the consumer, in order to create a lifestyle choice. This means, combining elements of psychology, technology, ergonomics and sustainability. The future of any designed space, for that matter, uses the applicability of smart technologies, which enables the spaces to respond to the future parameters. Flagship, lifestyle and pop-up stores, incorporating all the aforementioned elements are key parameters for the ‘marketing guerrilla’.