The role of bricks and mortar in fashion retailing is changing at a dramatic pace. Drapers asks five top agencies how this will define store design in 2019.
“Ease of exit will be part of the brief”
David Dalziel, group creative director, Dalziel & Pow
We will see more flexibility in formats as landlords and brands find the right balance of rent and lease agreements. Shorter, more agile arrangements will be more common and brands will evolve more agile and flexible concepts to fit those spaces.
Ease of exit will be part of the brief at the outset. If I leave in two years, what can I take with me to the next iteration of my retail proposition? If I decide to sell something different or sell that product in a different way, how does the store design anticipate that? These are the new challenges to designers, to think smarter and more responsively.
The customer will continue to demand a balance of convenience and experience, fast and slow, easy and immersive. It will be intriguing to see a new generation of stores that are truly responsive and ‘“live” at all times.
In terms of design trends in the traditional sense, nobody cares. Nobody is talking about the latest trend in flooring or wall covering. There are trends, but clients no longer care about that: they trust that will come, but are more interested rightly in what design can do for them, not what it is built from. That’s a major shift.
“Stores will be a place to meet”
Alison Cardy, managing director, HMKM
Attracting customers to stores relies on supreme service, unique offers and events and an entirely connected online-offline delivery allowing customers to shop when, how and where they wish.
For fashion and footwear, through 2019, our clients will be increasingly investing in the service experience. The convenience of buying online is often thwarted by customers receiving product that doesn’t look or feel as they wish it to or fit as they want. However cleverly handled, returning product is a chore. Thus, convenience becomes highly inconvenient.
And here lies the huge and exciting opportunity for stores to reinvent. Enticing customers to research online, yet come to store to try and buy. Building service into the proposition in such an integrated way that the retail brand creates its own community of loyal advocates; developing a closer relationship with them and learning what they like and, most importantly, how they wish to be connected.
From there, the brand can curate and tailor specific events, liaise with their customers on new initiatives and a generate such a desire for them to visit stores, that the store becomes a place to meet, a place to experience the brand and a place to be entertained.
“Bolder will be better”
Jeff Kindleysides, founder, Checkland Kindleysides
The appetite for tangible experiences has never been bigger and is only set to increase in 2019 as consumers re-prioritise human connections. As more and more brands find fame online, the opportunity for customers to connect with their favourite brand in real life is viewed as a coveted prize.
Take cosmetics etailer Glossier, for example: it has built the majority of its fan base online and gone way beyond the traditional consumer-brand relationship by building a community that opens conversations about beauty. Customers feel valued, heard and understood, and part of the brand.
Our job as creatives is to deliver experiences that strengthen the bond between a brand and its fans. Physical retail has to offer you something that you cannot discover, experience or learn about in any other way.
Fashion retailers will continue to open large flagship stores in major cities. But we’ll also see more small, targeted stores integrated into communities, where the brand can influence and serve the local customer, as well as more collaborative stores where like-minded brands share space to create a distinctive offer.
Bolder will undoubtedly equal better in 2019 and brands should be looking to step out of their comfort zones and explore the possibilities.
“Consumers want to participate”
Anshu Srivastava, director at MRA Architecture & Interior Design
I expect to see much more use of big data to understand the behavioural psychology of selling across different channels. The ability to collect and process data online will have a major impact on the way customers find, navigate and transact with the physical retail space.
These days we take some of the more obvious customer-focused digital interfaces for granted, such as in-store wi-fi, less payment, and click and collect.
In 2019, the best store experiences will be delivered by retailers that put the full power of their value chain into the hand-held tablet or mobile devices of either the store associate or the customer themselves, allowing a real-time view of inventory and collect options.
Every customer now has a highly sophisticated computer in their pocket, which is connected to the internet, their credit card and social media – this creates a new locus for a retailer to communicate with its customers. In 2019, the customer will increasingly expect to be a participant in the brand story, not just a consumer.
“Think about time well spent”
Irene Maguire, founder and director, Caulder Moore
The principles of how brands are using physical spaces to bring alive sensory elements that are more difficult to replicate online is beautifully illustrated by the recent opening of fragrance and skincare brand Neom Organics’ store in Guildford, Surrey.
The objective was to engage customers with the brand USP – helping customers in discovering their own individual wellness needs – by bringing this aspect of the brand front and centre to the new store concept and experience. For example, it focuses on customers idenifying frangrances that will improve well-being by aiding sleep.
Large retailers are also seeing the advantage of “slimming down” and creating “experiences without product”. We’ve seen this with California branches of Nordstrom Local, where there are eight dressing rooms, and personal stylists curate outfits for shoppers by pulling product from outside the store and via the website.
“Similarly, Sephora’s ‘studio’ format provides styling, makeovers and sampling services, creating a memorable experience that makes more of an emotional impact than just buying product. Creating this smaller format gives the brand an opportunity to reach locations that would usually not be accessible to them.
Looking beyond just the ’grammable’ image, customers need to gain something more, whether that is knowledge, or fun, or a shared or shareable experience. Retailers need to be thinking about time well spent, a key metric of which is longer dwell time, together with driving frequency of visits.