Six retail design trends changing the shopper experience
In times of digitisation, brick and mortar stores take on a new role: The experience moves into the centre of its raison d'être. What impact does this have on the design of new stores? What must the shops of the future do to lure customers from their sofas and into the city for shopping? We have asked the most renowned retail architects and shopfitters in the German-speaking countries about the major trends in store design.
Trend 1: More focus on sensual experiences
The biggest difference between online shopping and offline shopping is the sensual experience. Retailers will have to place increasing emphasis on this in the future. Says Jutta Blocher of architectural and interior design firm Blocher Partners from Stuttgart, Germany: "The most important trend is that with an increase in digitisation, the haptic experience is gaining in importance again because the store space is the only place where we can experience a product with all our senses. Only here is the actual experience possible, because a brand appeals to all the senses through multisensory technology." In the last few years, Blocher Partners realised milestone projects for Sport Schuster, Mode Reischmann, Modehaus Henschel and Kastner & Öhler.
Trend 2: Browsing instead of buying
Shopping should be fun and that means that the transaction becomes secondary. In the future, one will distinguish between shopping and buying. The decisive factor will be that the customer is satisfied and will come back. Maik Drewitz from shopfitting specialist Umdasch The Store Makers from Austria says: "As shopfitters, we can help to ensure that customers who come into the store spend more time there due to more of an experience, through a 'different' setup, better product presentation and personalised customer care and ultimately, be more loyal to the retailer. The basic shopping concept will not change so much. However, the presentation at the point-of-sale and the involvement of the customer in it will. You have to offer customers more incentives to visit a store and stay there longer, for example through a stronger gastronomic connection.” Umdasch designed groundbreaking stores for Hudon's Bay, Nike, Versace, Patrizia Pepe, Appelrath & Cüpper and Sport Bründl.
Trend 3: More flexibility when designing retail spaces
The days of static stores are over. Tomorrow's customers neither want to see the same product selection for months nor the same store. Says Tina Jokisch from Schwitzke & Partner in Düsseldorf: "In the future, brick and mortar retail spaces must have especially more focus, inspiration and offer an experience for all the senses. On the one hand through flexible uses of the spaces that let the floor plan come alive and always allow for surprising arrangements or impulses. But also through a mixture of a core selection of products and those from other branches of the industry that create an inspiring theme world and complement them." Schwitzke & Partner has been realising trend-setting retail projects for fashion and lifestyle customers. The most recent projects include the redesign of the Manufactum department store in Vienna, the new Douglas Pro concept and the new Intersport stores.
Trend 4: Digitisation is essential
In order to offer customers more of an experience, retailers will not be able to pass on digital elements in the store. More precisely, it is about "a connection between analog and haptic experiences - cleverly combined with data-collecting, informative and logistically supportive digitisation", explains Wolfgang Gruschwitz. Gruschwitz in Munich realised retail projects with Hirmer, Uniqlo, FC Bayern and Superdry in the last few years and also focuses on the integration of digital retail.
“It is important to create added value in brick and mortar stores in comparison with the Internet," adds Professor Holger Moths of Prof. Moths Architects who designed award-winning Globetrotter houses already years ago and reached another milestone in 2018 with the L&T sports store in Osnabrück. "If, in addition to trying it out in the store, I can digitally configure my product individually, e.g. bicycles, glasses, clothes and shoes, then that is a clear advantage. Click & Collect is already one model for combining online and offline but can still be expanded more.”
Trend 5: Experimenting, not just observing
Nobody knows exactly what stores have to look like in the future in order to continue to be successful. In concrete terms, this means that one has to experiment more! Wolfgang Gruschwitz from a digital retail specialist in Munich is convinced that the combination of offline and online will also lead to having to try out new concepts and rethinking old ones. “It is time to install trial stores - not just as 3D printing and event-driven, but analog and experienceable. Lululemon has already demonstrated this with its inhouse activities in the field of yoga, but there is still a lot of room to grow and one can achieve more synergy effects by focusing more on the customers with all their needs and presenting them corresponding solutions." More experimentation is also the customer’s motto: Stores become workshops where customers can design products themselves.
Trend 6: The human factor is becoming more important
What role does the sales staff play in these ingenious design temples? With a focus on the experiential character of stores, the human being moves more than ever into the foreground. Says Tina Jokisch from Schwitzke & Partner: "The human factor in the form of competent, service-oriented employees is underestimated by many retailers! Without good personnel that inspires visitors and leaves behind a good feeling, even the most beautiful store is only worth half as much.“