Survival of the fittest



n the final half of this decade, we are witnessing six trends that we keep front of mind when designing retail experiences and strategies for stores, brands and shopping centres. Taken together, they mark a real shift in customer

expectations and behaviour in addition to retailer capabilities. I would go so far as to say we are living in an age of ‘retail darwinism’ - only the fittest, i.e. those that take these developments on board, will thrive:

DEATH OF THE LINE X3 There will be an increasing ‘death of the line’ on three levels. Firstly at a ‘micro level’ there will be a blurring of categories in-store. Customers will shop less by category and more by lifestyle, interests and social groups. At a second level the line between store and shopping centre will be less defined, creating a more open integrated experience between tenanted and public space. At the larger scale third level we will see the gradual death of the ‘hermetically sealed’ shopping zone that turns its back on the community. Such zones will be more open and integrated with the streetscape and urban grain.

NEW PLAYERS Following in the footsteps of Amazon and a different cast of players will want to take physical space on high streets and in shopping centres. These will include online pure players, FMCG brands, media/broadcast brands and entertainment brands. However, their requirements may not be long leases in fixed ‘concrete boxes’ with glass frontages. They will demand programmable ‘soft’ spaces where they can create immersive ‘store sets’ (shoppable stage sets) to enact their brand stories. Traditional retailers can learn from these pioneers.

DATA As technology enables us to measure all aspects of customer interaction, retailers and shopping centres will be able to leverage data to create new revenue models by behaving more like a media brand. They will be able to measure not just customer flow, but also gender, age, gestures, which displays customers stop at, in what direction they look and whether they cross the threshold. This granular data will be very valuable to retailers and brands: shopping centres and retailers respectively

will be able to create revenue from this. For centres in particular this development will be critical because turnover rent will be less relevant thanks to increasing numbers of transactions not taking place through the till in-store.

THE COLLECT EXPERIENCE Click and collect will become more popular as retailers incentivise customers to pick up goods in store. However, there is an opportunity to re-invent the ‘collect experience’. ‘Collect’ must be more than just an administrative process at the back of the store. It should be at the heart of the store experience, where customers can maybe enjoy a coffee, see new products and ideas, learn about the brand or their purchase and meet friends. This is an opportunity to offer customers a concierge type experience and ‘up-sell’. Also expect to see shopping centres innovating in this area for retailers.

INTEGRATION OF FOOD & BEVERAGE AND RETAIL As shopping in physical stores becomes less about transaction and more about immersion into a brand, learning, personalisation, brand rituals, social networking and entertainment there will be a need to make shops more sociable and convivial. The integration of F&B in stores is a response to this to create truly hybridised shopping experiences based not on categories but lifestyles, interests and behaviours. Also how will shopping centres respond to requests for mixed use units and how will this impact their F&B tenants?

DIGITAL SIGNAGE Too often signage is instructional and process

driven. In larger stores and in shopping centres there is an opportunity to create branded ‘way showing’ (as opposed to wayfinding) made up of signage elements, gestures, landmarks, landscaping, furniture etc. to create a branded communication ecosystem that helps customers navigate and orientate by building cognitive maps that are intuitive. As part of this, digital interfaces can create an enhanced experience with personalised content that can respond to social media for example: interfaces where customers can broadcast messages and retailers and brands can create content that customers can respond to using mobile devices.

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