2020 will always be known as the year of retail’s great reinvention due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For the first time, it was possible for there to be a clearer distinction between the role of physical stores and the role of digital, prioritising service and consumer-sales advisor relations. Brands learned the value of creating meaningful, educational and entertaining content from their social media channels which invited direct and valuable conversations with customers. Retail became the place whereby customers could experience newness, tactility, discovery and engage with human conversation. It was a year that unleashed potential and marked a new era for the retail industry and brands. Ready to embrace the full potential of this landscape, luxury beauty retailer Space NK tasked Sheridan&Co to create a store strategy that would propel the brand into its next chapter.
Launched in 1991 by Nicky Kinnaird, Space NK gained a reputation for sourcing a highly selective range of innovative, niche and well-known luxury brands from across the world. Customers shop with Space NK because they know that they will find well-loved beauty treasures, talk with the brand’s beauty experts and always discover something interesting and new.
Here is how we worked alongside Space NK to develop a retail strategy that ensured an engaged customer experience…
The priority for Space NK was to develop a store experience that would match the expectation of customers in a post-Covid-19 era. Sheridan&Co helped Space NK design their new store to be the ultimate beauty destination that caters to the following:
Enhancing the power of digital and fostering community creation
Customers who shop with a brand both online and in-store have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop on only one channel (v12data.com). This was a critical insight for the retail strategy as throughout lockdowns, Space NK was able to enhance their digital offering and create greater intimacy between the brand and customers through their live streams; which offered both education and entertainment for shoppers. The C-suite team at Space NK was able to have valuable and direct conversations with their community.
This was an invaluable development for the brand and something that Space NK wanted to continue to strengthen in their store experience so they could engage in meaningful growth and gain customer insights. The new store experience was designed to be a place to host the brand’s community. It was designed to be a stage for digital broadcasts, as well as being a space for people to gather, learn and connect through events in-store.
The London-headquartered firm, which sells make-up and skin creams, said total sales in November and December were 28 per cent higher than the same months in 2021, and 60 per cent above the same period in 2019 before the pandemic.
Sales growth was helped by the company having increased investment in its digital division, no more lockdown restrictions, doubling its warehouse capacity and opening a new concept store at Battersea Power station in October.
Ensuring that Space NK’s tone of voice was rooted in empathy
The design direction of the space was to create a place where customers felt comfortable, safe as if they belonged. The pandemic exacerbated mental health challenges and it came as no surprise that ‘self-care’ was the most used term by beauty influencers in 2020 to counter the stressors of the year. As a result, intelligent and compassionate brands prioritised emotional well-being to meaningfully support and connect with their communities. Our research showed that creating an empathic store experience was important to the Space NK community, and this was achieved in a number of ways.
Bringing the beauty brand’s own heritage to life
Space NK has a strong reputation for sourcing the best of the best when it comes to beauty brands. The brand always has a broad and innovative collection of interesting and well-established brands for shoppers to explore. A key part of the brief for Sheridan&Co was to design a store experience that presented a clear brand identity for the Space NK so that the brand became the initial point of discovery and the brands it sources became secondary. This was achieved by creating a juxtaposition between the clean visual identity of Space NK and the brands it has in store.
Layering the experience with luxury theatricality and storytelling
Retail today needs to offer experiences that are rooted in theatre, entertainment and tactility. The clean, contemporary and minimal look and feel of Space NK’s own visual direction was designed to contrast the immersive and expressive nature of the brands that can be found in the store.
Promotional spaces in the store were designed to contrast the iconic shoppable shelves that Space NK is known for. These parts of the store include customizable furniture that can be changed specifically for events. For permanent fixtures, brands are given the opportunity to customise and include their own furniture within the space. Windows are the first point of contact for customers when they approach a store and are fundamentally a strong brand asset when it comes to the store experience. In order to add storytelling and theatre to the space, windows became stages for brand takeovers. A flexible VM window system was designed so that brands could make a strong and expressive statement.
The retail climate has drastically changed since 2020 and Space NK has successfully adapted to provide its community with meaningful digital content, opening up conversations and fostering kindness between the Space NK team and shoppers. The new Space NK store has been designed to help the brand ensure even more success as it embarks upon its new chapter. The space helps the brand to deepen relationships with shoppers in-store, whilst educating them about the story of Space NK as a curator of innovative brands, providing genuine and honest beauty expertise.
The store experience has been designed based on delivering a tone of voice that harnesses the power of kindness and empathy, giving consumers a fresh perspective when it comes to shopping for beauty.