As we approach the opening of all non-essential retail on April 12th, let’s take a look at what store design should encompass to cater to new emotional needs and consumer behaviour. At the start of the year, Michael Sheridan, Chairman at Sheridan&Co sat on a webinar panel alongside The Red Tree to explore the evolution of retail and what we should expect for the future of store design and consumer behaviour.
The webinar began with a retrospective, affirming that 2020 disrupted the retail landscape. ‘We were in a period of rapid change and the way we were living changed faster than we have ever seen before. Pre-covid19, the way in which retail was developing was slow,’ commented Michael Sheridan. ‘But now, we have experienced a great acceleration. We were monitoring consumer behaviour stats consistently, studying them to understand how markets were changing and what this will fundamentally mean for how we work within store design.
We were monitoring consumer behaviour stats consistently, studying them to understand how markets were changing and what this will fundamentally mean for how we work within store design.Michael Sheridan
One lesson that we have learned in the last year is the value and importance of being a part of the community. Whilst business is predominantly sales-focused, a brand must be community focused. A brand and a business of course should go hand in hand. Growing a brand is not reliant on the conversion rate of products sold, but rather the engagement, recognition and reach. Morphe is an excellent example of a brand that has not only focused on growing and nurturing their community, but they have also compounded upon that growth through user generated content, live tutorials with followers and collaborations with influencers. These types of conversations heighten the intimacy felt between brands and shoppers. Now that shoppers have received this intimacy and communication from brands, they are expecting to have the same level of service within their stores. The role of digital within store design is thus getting redefined. We can no longer assume that consumer behaviour and interaction for digital and physical are two separate entities and should be treated differently. In order to build a brand and community outreach, the two must work together and ensure that the customer is at the heart of the interaction.
Alongside seeing brand and customer relationships being redefined, we are also seeing a rise of new business models. Covid-19 has heightened conversations surrounding the environment and how we can design a recovery that fosters a circular economy. Loop is an excellent example of a brand that is encouraging a new way for shoppers to shop, whilst minimising their waste. The brand asks: ‘why own a product’s packaging, just to throw it away after you are done just become you want the stuff is inside?’. With Loop, shoppers are invited to place a fully refundable deposit to borrow packaging that will be professionally cleaned and reused once the person has finished with it. One of the key design challenges that retailers race across store design in the next decade will be the journey to becoming fully zero-waste.
As we look ahead towards the next era of store design, Michael Sheridan asserts that we are heading towards ‘retail’s resurgence’. The lessons we have carried from this crisis have been heavy but it has forced new levels of innovation when it comes to brand community and engagement. We absolutely have to carry this forward when it comes to store design. In addition to this, we must acknowledge the demand for circular design and create retail examples that enable consumer behaviour to be driven by zero-waste strategies and facilitate circular design.
Click here to download our report on The New Role of Retail for more insights on store experiences after COVID-19.