As 2017 comes to an end and we prepare to usher in 2018, it is important to think about some of the forefront trends in retail design that we will be taking into next year. Regardless of what trends we expect, they are mostly going to be pointing towards a general direction. It is going to be less about packing the store with as much as possible and more about leaving enough space to breathe and enhance clarity.
As online shopping becomes more popular, offline stores have to do more to keep customers patronising them. So, it is only expected that many of the new retail design trends will be geared towards creating a more personalised and sensory experience in-store. What trends are we likely to see through 2018?
- More adaptability and variability
Traditionally, once a store has been built, it will remain exactly like that for years to come. Times have changed and the standards have gone through the roof. It has become essential that a shop be fit more flexibly in order to adjust to their evolving product ranges. There is going to be an increased focus on eliminating anything that will distract the buyer from the products. That means overstuffed areas will be done away with and clear areas with more space will become the order of the day.
There are financial concerns that are tied to this emerging trend. After all, with more space, we can expect there to be fewer products and not as much revenue per square metre. This can pose to be an even a more serious problem for stores in niches where the margins are already low.
Regardless of this fact, it is important that stores be willing to experiment and try out something new. It is not necessary to make sudden changes at once. Stores can always start out with well-placed test areas of about 20 square metres or even less. That way, they can test out what works without affecting anything too much.
- Taking a cue or two from the online shopping model
There are quite a number of retail strategies that work very well for online stores. It only makes sense that offline stores would look to replicate some of that success by borrowing what they can and implementing them in their own stores. One major advantage that online stores have is their ease of personalisation and the fact that customers can get an individual shopping experience.
Offline stores need to do the same by offering product ranges that are individual and expressive. We have gone beyond the time when store would cram everything in and then see what interests the customer.
One interesting feature of online shopping is the use of filters. Stores are going to be looking at how they can adapt that into physical stores. One way could be to present the highlights of the store in a separate section.
As stores find new ways to learn from the online shopping model, they are going to implement the multi-channel system more. That means, we will be seeing offline stores merging the online shopping experience into the location-based one. Like everything else, this will take quite a bit of experimentation before different stores in different niches will discover what works for them.
- Integrating the sales area and storage space
Many stores are going to be incorporating more functional areas into their sales area. In some niches, it is going to be geared towards how brands can positively package self-service and in other niches, it’s going to be about sustainability.
A couple of stores are already incorporating product promotional areas and others are including demo workshops. Sports stores will include climbing corners, treadmills, and areas for testing walking shoes, and in other places, we might see repair areas within the store.
- Emergence of new tastes in shelving
Brands are going to start moving towards creating a more organic feel within their stores. We have learned from studies that customers are beginning to prefer smaller stores to big box megastores. When a person heads out to shop, they would rather be able to easily find what they are looking for in a specialised environment that’s comfortable and organic.
According to experts at slatwallaccessories.co.uk, “stores are gradually beginning to move away from the traditional look and opting for more interesting colours and shapes when it comes to shelves. Interestingly, they are also adjusting other areas to compliments their new shelves. Some are going the way of in-store greenery and adding natural lighting, while others are changing the colours of the walls and adjusting their floor surfaces.
Stores can be expected to move away from the typical sterilised environment of fluorescent lighting, linoleum flooring, and sharp-edge metal shelving. In place of that, we can expect to find materials such as bamboo, chrome, glass, faux wood, and wood being used to manufacture displays. Even traditional cardboard display stands can be created to be more adventurous and daring.
We will also see shelves take on more eye-catching shapes rather than the regular edges. A few stores will implement curvy shelves and there will be more colourful hues as stores move away from basic white and beige colours.
- More stores will embrace digitalisation
As digitalisation gets discussed more in the retail space, we can expect more stores to adopt it in different ways. Many store owners are generally interested and even excited by the prospects. It is likely that more stores will adopt digital displays and beacon integration. With beacon technology, customers can be afforded a highly personalised and fine-tuned experience. It is this potential for personalisation that makes it such an interesting prospect for many brands.
Traditionally, we expect a static shelf edge to fulfil only one purpose with their paper printed labels and that is to inform the shopper about the prices of the products. With the digital displays, a lot more can be done, enabling the customer to obtain other vital information.
It is good that stores are taking on new technology and new approaches to ensuring they create a more personalised shopping experience, however, it is important to think about some of the setbacks that could be had. For example, with digital displays and beacon integration, stores have to ask themselves how much time a customer will be willing to spend in order to complete the purchase of a pair of shoes.
The preferred approach to adopting new technologies will be ‘slow and steady’ because not all customers will be willing to or find it easy to move with the speed of change. Of course, experimenting a little at a time is always the best way to go.