Focus 03: The New Purpose: Experience

In our final week of daily bite sized snippets, we explore THE NEW PURPOSE.

Today’s topic is: EXPERIENCE

Every brand and retailer needs something different from physical retail. What they need and the extent to which they need it will depend on the brand, the sector and the size of store portfolio. But one thing that all brands and retailers have in common is that changes are required to meet a new purpose.

Although cautious at first following a sustained period of lockdown, consumers will want to go back to stores for entertainment, enjoyment and social interaction. Although the immediate focus for many brands and retailers will be to get shoppers in and out of stores as safely and quickly as possible, this won’t be enough to keep consumers coming back in the medium to long term.


Traditionally creating retail experience has meant bringing product to life through dynamic display, facilitating interaction and demonstration, creating engaging space for services and events and providing entertainment, enjoyment and a ‘feel good’ factor.

Consumers desire for these things hasn’t gone away, but in the shorter term there is the additional dynamic of safety, efficiency and convenience to be considered.

  • As stores re-open across the globe, some consumers going back to stores will have a renewed appreciation of physical retail after a long period of lockdown, whereas others will feel anxiety or frustration that results in an unenjoyable experience.
  • In the short term counteracting anxiety and frustration within the overall experience will be key to ensure shoppers return to stores after initial visits.
  • Once consumers confidence in the safety of physical retail builds and shoppers become more comfortable with social distancing and being in busy areas, they will quickly demand a higher level of experience that will need to work within a new criteria.
  • As time continues, with shopping behaviour likely to have changed forever with more consumers shopping across multiple channels, the need for a great experience in store will only increase.
  • As the in store experience evolves in phases over the next few months, it’s important for brands and retailers to understand how and when the transition between short, medium and long term measures needs to take place to create a positive experience in store that consumers enjoy and keep them coming back.

At first many consumers will go to stores based on need and will want to get in and out as quickly as possible, but after this initial phase of returning to stores, consumers expectations of the in store experience will quickly increase.


Every brand and retailer will face different challenges based on the sector, their product offer and physical space, but there are a number of things that brands and retailers can do now to create a positive in store experience, from which to build a great in store experience after the initial period of stores re-opening.

  • Map out the short, medium and longer term phases you need to go through to create a sustainable, positive and engaging in store experience.
  • While creating an outline plan for the future that will allow you to react based on changing circumstances, ensure that you get the basics right now to ensure consumers keep coming back.
  • In the short term consider subtle changes to the store environment that don’t require physical engagement, such as appropriate lighting and music to create a relaxed atmosphere and encourage a positive mood.
  • Re-consider the primary purpose of in store communications and ensure they are suitable for that moment in time.
  • Review digital presence in store and explore new methods of projection and voice activation as an alternative to digital that requires ‘touch’.
  • Consider simple procedures that you can introduce to make the buying process easier for consumers, such as serviced shopping.
  • If there are restrictions on shoppers entering your stores, consider how to make this a positive experience with considered solutions, rather than a ‘quick fix’ that could prevent consumers coming back.
  • Look after your store teams and ensure they feel safe, motivated and mentally prepared to work within a different environment and with consumers who have a different mindset.
  • Explore implementation of technology that can reduce friction such as digital management of shopper numbers in store that avoid heavy security, headsets for staff to improve internal communication and customer service, and in store apps that allow shoppers to bypass long queues to check out.

We can help identify the unique opportunities you now have to ensure that your consumers enjoy being in store and develop strategic, innovative and commercial design solutions that will keep consumers coming back.


As brands and retailers open their doors again and consumers return to stores, what can you do now to identify and implement both the subtle and more far-reaching changes that are needed to fulfil the new purpose of your physical retail.

Get in touch if you would like to arrange a virtual workshop with our founding Directors Adrian & Jenny to see how can help you work through your opportunities, or download the full document HERE



13th July 2020