The future of retail environments

We have entered Retail 3.0, a time when the customer is more and more in charge. This new reality asks for much more from a designer than to translate a retailer’s identity into a store design and goes beyond mere functionality and efficiency – even more so now that a commodification of products, brands and retail is occurring.

Retail is no longer about products, it’s about the relationship between a brand and its target audience. In many cases this will mean using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to convert customer data into personalised experiences. At the same time, though, retailers should create more human interactions between automated processes and customers – artfully combining human and digital engagement.

  1. Lifestyle-activity infusion

The aim is to create spaces that are flexible, with sculptural furniture successfully combined with an element of surprise for the consumer. The future of retail is a space where consumers can buy goods, art and coffee from a wholly ‘Instagrammable’, agile space.

This, then, is an activation retail environment in which the consumer becomes an integral participant in the activation, linking not only with the brand but also to the consumer community, the things they love to do and the world they live in.

The future of retail design cannot be prescribed, but a contemporary retail store is no longer just a space with product rails and shelves. It is a living and evolving space that breathes vitality and activity into its stores’ community and communicates beyond its walls.

  1. Fusion drive

The shift from transactional to relational retailing in the high street is making designers and stores rethink the way they use space.

Retail is being reshaped and redefined; as buying habits change, the role of shops and malls as places where goods are stocked, put on show, sold and taken away looks increasingly shaky. Therefore, designers need to look for ways to use precious space wisely and differently. The new trend of miniaturisation is a great way to utilise space and speaks to where retail is headed.

Miniaturisation is about reducing the amount of actual stock in-store because fewer people are likely to take goods away with them. You can save space or be more creative with it by not having so much stock on the shelf, especially with goods that people are going to have delivered anyway.

  1. Online shopping

Online shopping is growing steadily and has turned retail into a global competitive space. Retail brands all over the world can now compete, irrespective of their geographical positions.

Technological advances and the easy availability of smartphones and other portable devices have changed the way consumers research products and shop online. Trends that will transform this shopping space are voice shopping, augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D configuration, customisation and printing. In addition to making the lives of shoppers much easier, these trends will help companies save time, money and energy, creating a win-win situation from which everyone can benefit.

The impact of e-shopping is that the traditional retail space has to change to provide and experience to the consumer that they cannot get online. This led to the inclusion of celebrity restaurants that offers an unique atmosphere and culinary experience to attract consumers to the retail facility, being a shopping mall or suburban shopping centre.

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