We are always interested in the next big thing in retail design, so we sent Lucy Aston, part of our design team and an interior design graduate, to the Retail Design Expo at Olympia. She gave us her thoughts:
“I sat in on several workshops during the day. In the Predictions for Retail in 2020 workshop retail CEOs design agency bosses debated the future role of bricks and mortar stores. The verdict was that stores will still be important, however, they need to be able to deal with the demands of the customer. The customer is becoming a ‘see it want it now’ shopper and brands need to adapt to this with services they provide in store.
A store will also need to be a place for fun, presenting a sense of occasion and a unique experience, rather than a place which contains products that you buy.
The implication for those of us working in retail design is that roll outs are no longer appropriate as they don’t work for every store in any location. Brands will no longer build a store and redevelop it five years later. Stores need to be more creative spaces, that can adapt on a weekly or monthly basis, that are tailored for each local community and deliver something new every time a customer visits.
Throughout the day different commentators were quick to predict a continuing boom in independent retailers. This feels like a positive trend for many high streets and communities. Of course, they aren’t likely to be pushing the boundaries of retail design, but independents are experts at providing that local relevance, great product knowledge and service.
A final point I took away from the day was the need for brands to be able to relate to ‘Millennials’, that is, those who were born post 1996 and have grown up in with 24/7 technology. To attract us design needs to be bold, fun, creative and clean and brands need to be able to relate to the environment that we live and take photos in. Stores need to be a social space to hang out in, with free wifi as standard.
My overall impression of the retail design industry was one that is constantly adapting, using the best of technology and new design to adapt to an ever changing retail landscape.”