A Glimpse into the Future of Retail Experience

April 11, 2018 — Krisana Jaritsat

Recently, we sent out Engagement Director, Damien Moore-Evans, to Chicago to attend Global Shop 2018, “the nation’s largest retail design industry trade show, which combines store design, visual merchandising, retail technology and shopper marketing leaders under one roof.” From our work redesigning the flagship Houston location of Saks Fifth Avenue, to more recently creating the bakery of our dreams for New York’s favorite miniature cupcake, Baked by Melissa, we’ve been thinking a lot lately about store experiences, community spaces, and the evolution of the brick-and-mortar. While the debate will undoubtedly continue on the path of the ‘store of the future,’ we’re pretty certain what we witnessed and heard at Global Shop will resonate in the years to come.

Here were the most interesting findings from Damien:

  • Gen Z is shaped by 911, cyber bullying, and unpredictable political climate. In spite of this, they are ambitious realists.
  • 64% cited shared values with a brand for the reason they engaged with that particular brand –Harvard Business Review
  • From showrooms to ‘Do-rooms,’ retailers are making a bigger push for overall better shopping experiences -Eight Inc.
  • The expectation economy continues on. Brands are shifting their behaviors to better coincide with shifting consumer expectations and behaviors.
  • The future of retail is physical – the goal for brands must be to design “human experiences,” putting the human at the center.
  • Defining the meaning of a ‘store’ today means behaving more experiential rather than transactional. A key consideration for brands should be to think about how to educate the customer on new products
  • It’s important for brands to be comfortable with launching imperfect products in the marketplace, allowing time to perfect.
  • Retailers need to focus on shifting their innovation strategy in order to stay relevant and distinctive within the culture.
  • Physical retail is not dying but rather shifting its presence.
  • goPuff was introduced courtesy of Hershey’s – they displayed a fantastic VR experience, providing the “quick fix” that many of us want from candy. This is potentially the future of the convenience store experience.
  • VR for brand storytelling is being used to promote new brand features and share impactful stories, i.e. in some Toms stores now, you can experience the village / meet the people that receive a pair of Toms when you buy a pair – bringing the experience to life.
  • For the consumer market VR opportunity – retailers are seeking innovative ways to deliver memorable experiences
  • With VR, we have the opportunity to create highly engaging experiences that consistently surprise, i.e. be “Virtually Amazing”
  • Hardware, software, and design leaders should collaborate to overcome obstacles and make VR accessible.
  • Telling a great brand story is important but the strength lies with telling a true and authentic brand story – if you achieve this, you can win forever.
  • Many stores nowadays have forgotten about the customer. However, there are some exceptions: every Kendra Acott store is dedicated to the community it serves. “Those real world connections can insulate a brand from market turns.”-Tom Nolan, WWD, Global Shop keynote
  • We must remember it’s not literally about the ‘brick-and-mortar,’ but rather what’s on the inside.
  • Brands should try to remember that the ultimate measure of success is the impact you can have on people’s lives. In customer service you can innovate everyday, whether it be in conversation with a customer or with a handwritten note to close the transaction.

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