Should retail design be more focused on the customer experience?

Should retail design be more focused on the customer experience?

Design, Retail design

Offering its consumers a chance to test out its products before making a purchase in one of the Trial Zones, popular sportswear brand Nike last year opened a five-storey retail experience in New York City’s Soho. Surrounded by high-definition screens, the Trial Zone immerses consumers in the sights and sounds of iconic New York basketball courts, Dyckman Park in Washington Heights and Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Creating a seamless link between its digital and physical platforms, Heidi O’Neill, Nike’s president of global direct to consumer, described Nike Soho’s new concept as “a personal sport experience”.
A similar concept has been developed for a new Dr Martens store in London’s Camden Market, but for a diametrically opposite customer. Opened just two months ago, the store is being promoted as an “experimental store”. Apart from special artwork, VR experiences and a GIF photo booth, the store now serves as a live music venue.

Often described as “creative disruptions”, some of the recent pop-up shops have brought customer engagement to another level, setting the stage for the products to come.

Juice, a pop-store launched by Asian streetwear brand CLOT in Los Angeles features simple, but rather shocking (and social media-loving) interiors. Entirely covered in fake blood, the red paint is spattered on its walls, down the ceiling and over the posts where the brand’s products are on display. You may not buy those sneakers, but it looks so good on Instagram, right?

And finally, moving to the “Wheelys 247” and experiences that require zero interaction. The latest convenience store in Shanghai will be a completely unmanned 24-hours, allowing its consumers to make purchases via their mobile devices using the Wheelys 247 app, completely eliminating the traditional checkout process. Use of the app is also what grants a shopper access to the store, which is also a part of its system to deter theft.

As Paul McElroy, partner at Kinnersley Kent Design argues, the right time to create the store of the future is “not in three, five or 10 years’ time – but today”. Read McElroy’s column on Millennials and the store of the future.

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