Changing Retail Spaces

What many see as the comfort of traditional, transactional shopping is no longer relevant. The segregated approach and structure of old has been replaced by a much more fluid business model that is becoming essential to capture the influential Gen-Z.

The experience is everything. A well-used phrase in recent times. Customers are well informed and demanding with high expectations of what to expect in a physical or digital store. Placing more emphasis on experience, packaging, brand messaging and personalisation the most successful brands are the ones that are providing a more premium service for all.  By doing this an organisation can keep the core values that make them unique while attracting the maximum amount of attention.

Research shows that products are now being purchased because of how they make the user feel, not purely what they do.  The service is key. The growth of customer service is important as it reflects the importance of the brand experience. The illustration above simply shows how the ratio between customer and service has changed, until eventually the customer experience will be seamless.

Many stores are looking to other sectors to engage customers and create a different level of experience. Hiring ex-hotel staff and people experts was the solution for Hyundai in their new Rockar showroom.  The new generation of shoppers trust their peers and research, the role of the traditional salesman is redundant. A personable approach in a physical space inspires comfort and trust and the optimum opportunity to encourage purchase.

Blurred Boundaries

The customer is in control. At what point during the day do you interact with a brand? When does the average consumer become a customer? Again this is no longer a segregated step by step but a fluid, anywhere and everywhere process.

A typical day previously consisted of ‘peak’ times for shoppers. With mobile technology and the ability to purchase on a wide variety of devices this is no longer easily measureable.  Yes, there may be certain times of day when more people make a purchase, but the structure has shifted. The illustration below represents the shift from structured and linear to dynamic and fluid.

The ability to do what you want while mobile is drastically changing the way we interact with spaces and people.  This is where the experience comes into its own. If you cannot offer a point of differentiation through store, website or price then the solution is to offer a memorable experience and create a loyal customer base who trust your brand.

We are yet to see this fully executed. The truly seamless experience.  This requires the business model to be as fluid as the customer touch points and the service offering needs to be consistent across all platforms.  The illustration above shows that by blurring the lines of physical and online retail new experiences are created.

Gen-Z expect what they interact with to be continually evolving. The hunger for constant innovation and speed means that a perfect article is no longer essential. A Gen-Z consumer is happy to have what they want now with the guarantee of regular updates and improvements. This state of mind can be reflected through a progressive approach to retail. Fail faster.

Attempting to create the ideal store experience can be costly and time consuming and then only be relevant for mere months. If customer demands are constantly adapting, shouldn’t the environment be capable of doing the same? Designers are beginning to adopt a ‘fail faster’ attitude where stores will become working prototypes that can be easily tested and changed depending on their success. This keeps the brand current, the experience relevant and the design fresh. What’s next? Watch this space.

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