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The future of retail shopping

Retail experts agree that tomorrow’s retail store will look quite different from its counterpart today. E-commerce and alterations in consumer behaviour require new strategies for brick and mortar stores. Here are some ideas from Euroshop, the world’s largest retail trade fair, held in Dusseldorf, Germany in March 2017. Regina Henkel reports.

Trade pundits are gazing into the metaphorical crystal ball to see how the store of the future will look, what the consumer will expect and shopping trends. What role will brick and mortar stores play in the future? Classical retail has not gone out. Its potential, its ability to attract, to create community feeling and to communicate, is promising. All these are characteristics online shopping is unlikely to offer.

Experience per square metre

The performance of a store has traditionally been measured in turnover per square metre. “This is the wrong approach,” says Nicole Srock Stanley of the German retail design company, Dan Pealman. For many years, the Berlin based company has developed retail architecture for fashion brands as well as experience architecture for leisure parks. “The future will be about experience per square metre,” she says. Instead of packing as much merchandise as possible in a store and offering a wide selection, the store of the future will become smaller and oriented to offer more entertainment. “We must understand that shopping means we spend our leisure time in a store, where the customer invests money and time,” she points out. Retail is becoming a part of the leisure industry. The first retail parks, where shopping areas are connected with climbing halls, swimming pools and MTB parks, have arrived.

Personal Touch

Adidas has just offered a special shopping experience at the Bikini Mall in Berlin. Until mid-March, Adidas offered customised sweaters in a pop-up store. Under the Knit for You concept, customers could design their Merino sweaters individually and then have them knitted at the knitting machines installed. A few hours later, the sweater was ready. The Bikini Berlin Mall is geared towards such an adventure architecture whose overall strategy was developed by Dan Pearlman. In addition to permanently leased stores, the special shopping experience consists of several pop-up stores housed in wooden boxes, and which change over the year again and again. So, the mall keeps changes. A similar concept was realised in London in 2011 under the name Boxpark. It was the first popup shopping mall in the world.

Stores where you buy nothing?

The purchase process in the store will lose relevance. The transaction can finally take place anywhere-in the store, online or through social networks. Once used as the top principle, the main focus of the store will shift towards customer engagement. At the latest Samsung flagship store in New York, the brand and the products are staged but you cannot buy them. Steven Weiss from the American Trade Advisory Shop! USA, puts it in a nutshell, “Retail is changing from POS (point of sale) to POE, or point of engagement.”

Creativity is welcome

The list of possibilities with which a store can become relevant to a customer is long and without restrictions in creativity. “Actually, everything is conceivable, as long as there is a market for it,” explains Weiss. He mentions a restaurant which offers its guests free repair of broken mobile phone screens. “This has nothing to do with the actual business, but it is a great service,” says the specialist. Of course, there are also more conventional solutions.