The Store of the Future is the Store of the Now

What everyone has learnt throughout the pandemic is that you can’t predict the future of retail. What you can do is provide your customers with what they want and what they need ‘now’, while planning for inevitable change in the future. The ‘store of the future’ is the ‘store of the now’.

The solution will be different for every brand and retailer, but an evolved type of store is emerging. Some stores may ‘look’ the same but operate differently, while others may resemble a lounge area or an exhibition space rather than a traditional store. Despite potential differences, to deliver return on investment there are some common elements to consider within the the ‘store of the now’.

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Enjoyable experience

Transactions are only one element of the ‘store of the now’. Consumers want shopping in physical stores to be enjoyable. How to deliver an enjoyable experience will be different for every brand and retailer depending upon their product and service offer and the needs and desires of their consumers.

An enjoyable experience in store can be created by exciting space and vibrant atmosphere, product interaction and engaging display, theatre and activation’s, through to customers easily finding what they want and a quick and seamless payment process.

Platform for People

The most obvious differentiator between shopping in physical stores versus online is ‘people’. The right people who are fully trained and equipped to project the brand personality and values in store, can provide reassurance, trust and an overall feel-good factor. The ‘store of the now’ is a place where people enjoy working (as well as shopping) and have the tools and facilities they need to provide customers with an exceptional service. This could be fit-for-purpose consultation space and service areas through to stock-checkers and mobile payment terminals.

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Dynamic and Flexible

The key to success of the ‘store of the now’ if the facility for space to quickly and easily react to trends and events as they happen. This could take the form of flexible merchandising systems with minimal and interchangeable components and movable digital elements.

Static elements should be minimised and innovative and flexible solutions created to replace traditionally fixed items, such as payment desks and fitting rooms. This will allow stores to be regularly refreshed as well as easily adapt to unexpected changes such as social distancing or a difference in stock levels.

Multi-functional & Mixed-use

Maximising the different opportunities presented by stores is a developing trend. Not only are online orders being fulfilled via ship from store and click & collect services becoming more sophisticated, mixed-use space is on the increase. More stores are driving traffic by incorporating community, recreational and work space, with demand escalated by the ‘work from home’ culture. Where space allows, this provides an ideal opportunity to reinforce brand values through collaborations with linked brands and services that provide more reasons to visit stores.

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Digital Integration

Consumers now expect and demand consistency across all brand touchpoints. Maximising the symbiotic relationship between online and in store helps to build a great experience. Live inventory and quick access to stock can ensure customers don’t leave the store disappointed and wondering why they didn’t shop online. Offering a best-in-class click & collect experience that goes beyond ‘picking up a parcel’ and providing additional features such as drive-through or kerbside service, that build upon the experience.

Right Place/ Right Time

It’s never been more important to have the right format, size and location of store. The ‘store of the now’ is built around the core purpose, the needs of the target customer and where and when they want to shop. Stores might be permanent, temporary, mobile or a capsule offer linked to a wider inventory to deliver what consumers demand. Convenience is key and connecting with customers throughout their life journey, in the right place at the right time.

If you need support to develop your consumer brand experience or retail environment we can help. Contact Jenny Hillier at jenny@briggshillier.com to arrange a chat and explore new opportunities.

Jenny

Jenny Hillier

21st September 2020