Despite the seemingly unstoppable rise of e-commerce, brick-and-mortar retail still has an important – and we believe permanent – role to play in retail.
Physical retail is unrivalled for building a relationship with the customer, offering tactile interaction with the product and human interaction. This is a powerful, emotive combination that helps build brand preference and loyalty over time. The fact that so many successful pure play retailers are opening up stores and pop-ups underscores that physical retail spaces are as relevant today as ever.
But while one of the strengths of physical retail is its innate difference from the online experience, stores today need to be intrinsically connected to a brand’s digital offer.
The role of the store is changing. We believe the future of physical retail will be more about human experience than selling, with the store acting as a form of media. Stores will become immersive brand showcases, offering visitors something special and exciting that they can’t get anywhere else. When looking to create this, retailers can learn a lot from hospitality, where customers are guests’ and where there is more focus on offering an immersive experience.
Department Store’s Unique Opportunity
We are all aware that department stores are facing their own unique set of challenges. Reports of job cuts and the shuttering of sites from many well-known retailers around the world are evidence of this. But department stores also have a unique opportunity. If the future of the store is as a form of media, then multi-brand stores have an advantage. It’s possible to learn far more about the customer than a single brand can, and therefore help tenants to connect better with their own customers, potentially monetising exposure to the customer, similar to how traditional media outlets do now.
“In a department store, you are selling 300, 400 brands, in many different categories of products. You have more chances of selling to a customer than when you are a single brand. So you can invest in the customer and finance a personal relationship to create a real connection between the sales people and the customer.”
– Maurizio Borletti, Chairman of Borletti Group, speaking to Retail Detail in July 2018
By paying close attention to the customer and learning more about their needs and desires, department stores can move from being generic ‘houses of brands’ to lifestyle-led, emotive destinations where brands want to be and where customers choose to spend their leisure time.
If you’d like to discuss ways to ‘future-proof’ your bricks-and-mortar through considered design please feel free to contact our studio today.