• As online retail continues to evolve, forward-thinking brands will look to engage consumers through physical experiences in real time. These experiences will need to be designed to inspire and connect with consumers and create emotional relationships with a brand. Environments will be increasingly flexible, allowing for more than just selling a product or service. In fact, in many instances, a traditional sales transaction will not take place. Brands will use their space to immerse consumers in their values, increase transparency, co-create the future of the brand and create brand advocates.
    1. Lifestyle Destination
    Companies will succeed by creating spaces and experiences that use a more subtle, casual or friendly sales message. These companies understand that they are selling more than their products; they are selling a lifestyle. Gensler designed Cadillac House in New York to do just that.

  • 2. Increasing Transparency 
    Everlane’s website proclaims: “We believe customers have the right to know what their products cost to make. At Everlane, we reveal our true costs, and then we show you our markup.” A radical idea for sure. More brands will look to build strong customer loyalties by being transparent and co-creating products and services with brand advocates.

  • 3. Touch, Feel and Try
    Through customer feedback, online brand Bonobos realized that many customers want to touch and feel the product. In an effort to increase brand awareness and reduce returns, they created Bonobos Guideshops, where customers can try on for size, put outfits together and get advice from salespeople. If they like it, they can then order it on the Bonobos website.

  • 4. The Information Hub
    The Apple Genius Bar was one of many forward-thinking ideas for the famous brand. It provided information about computers and built a fiercely loyal customer base the likes of which was rarely, if ever, seen before. For Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, Gensler designed a space to simply offer customers a place to find insurance “information,” rather than selling policies, which has built a strong loyalty base that has led to increased sales.

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Retail Trend: Clicks to Bricks
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When making the shift from clicks to bricks, let design be your translator. From schematic design to construction to visual merchandising and packaging, Alison McNeil, principal, Interiors, with Canadian design firm Dialog, presents a snapshot of the design sequence Dialog created to bring e-commerce brand SHOES.COM’s digital identity to life.

 

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As retail real estate remains pricey and brands old and new seek to target relevant consumers and locations, the pop-up strategy has gone beyond temporary leases to mobile and transformable environments. Here are some to inspire from IA Interior Architects’ global project director of retail Anthony Simon: