Retail Store in 20 Years

20 October 2016


We have recently run the second Mind-Bending Breakfast of our newly formed The #1 Club for the innovators in the customer experience space.

The #1 Club has been created for those professionals in the customer experience space who push boundaries, believe there is no box and constantly challenge the status quo. We discuss macro and micro social and economic changes and their impact on the individual and how they consume. We debate what it means for all consumer industries with special focus on retail and hospitality. So whether it’s design, digital, marketing or leadership, we look at how to challenge the common thinking and innovate. But what connects all our discussions is THE HUMAN – how what we do in consumer industries impacts the lives of every human being and how what makes us fundamentally human can impact our thinking in consumer industries.

This time we have decided to discuss how retail stores will look like in 20 years. I have invited three great architects and designers in that field, who I believe constantly challenge their clients to think bigger:

Here are some of the key points from our inspiring discussion.

Changing Definition of Spaces

There is a lot of talk in the design industry about the fluidity of spaces and blurring lines between retail, hospitality, leisure and entertainment industries. I asked my experts what is their opinion.

They all agreed that the definitions of particular spaces are not what they used to be; that the way we use spaces will continue to change; that the lines between particular types of spaces will blur.

We already see mix between work and leisure, retail and hospitality, and even residential and work spaces. That mixing will only continue further. Our experts have even said that they envisage a continuous experience being designed rather than spaces.

Experience is a big buzz word in consumer industries but perhaps it has not been really discussed as almost replacing architecture and interior design. Will architects and designers become experience designers rather than space designers? What will be the mix of expertise they will require to design experience rather than 4 walls?

A couple of key characteristics of experience is that it is temporary and personal.

Experience is a person’s psychological, emotional, cognitive, motor and physiological reaction to their surroundings.

That reaction changes with the surroundings as well as with the person’s habituation to their surroundings. Therefore, by its nature it is impermanent.

Since experience is transitory, how can we design permanent architectural spaces to provide this flexibility?

Jon Tollit said that in his opinion ‘experience is something temporary that we apply to architecture’ and that he envisages that in the future spaces will change to each individual to create a unique, tailored to them experience.

We do have to be careful however as a feeling of impermanence can enhance uncertainty about the future. Therefore, we need to find a healthy balance between elastic nature of experience to ensure consumers’ excitement and providing a feeling of stability to build customer trust and loyalty.

Experience is also unique to a person’s mindset as their reaction is created through the interpretation of the stimuli creating the experience in a space. Therefore, each person’s experience will be specific to their mindset and will order cialis differ from other person’s experience even with the same set of stimuli.

How we can therefore ensure that the experience exists in a space in a more permanent manner and that it creates similar emotional and behavioural reactions?

This is where the view of our three experts that spaces are purely about emotional response provides an answer. Does that mean that designers will need to become experts in emotion design?

I might be biased as a psychologist but I truly believe that architects and interior designers have always been designers of Emotions, Behaviours and Decisions. They however not necessarily looked at themselves in that way nor they have been trained for it.

I have been working with the designers for some time now applying our unique EBD Design system, helping them to design Emotions, Behaviours and Decisions rather than spaces. Based on what our experts said, this could be the future of the design industry.

Ownership Shake Up

Own less, pay less, experience more.

Our lives are quickly becoming heavy with materialism. The spaces we live in are becoming smaller and smaller. We are not able to continue buying ‘stuff’ anymore. The sustainability concerns are further forcing us to consider whether we really need yet another pair of shoes.

We are already seeing the preference for spending money on experiences rather than products. The sharing economy is growing at an exponential rate allowing consumers to experience products rather than own them.

3D printing will soon become the norm of production and will be easily accessible by any person in the comfort of their home.

Where does that leave retail industry? Would providing great experience be enough? Or is there a different role for retailers in the future?

In our discussion we have identified that the future role of retail brands will more likely be curation. It is what they are doing already but with less need for physical products and ‘at home manufacturing’, this will need to be taken to another level.

The function of the retailer wouldn’t be designing, manufacturing and selling but rather creating and selling lifestyles. It’s what good brands are doing already. They sell identity, lifestyle, dream, story NOT product. That’s what people have always been buying but not all retailers are marketing it that way.

In the future, retail brand will stock lifestyle/identity which customers will be able to rent, try before they buy or actually buy to own. That lifestyle/identity will still be created by some products especially curated by the brand but rather than manufacturing them in advance, customers will be able to co-create them with the brand or rent them from other customers with the help from the brand.

Basically, retail brands will become curated platforms of ideas for how to build your lifestyle/identity without much of physical products being actually stocked in-store.

The next Mind-Bending Breakfast

We run those thought challenging discussions every month. In November we will be looking at what role leadership plays in creating extraordinary and effective customer experience.

If you are an amazing leader in consumer industry or work with such leaders or want to find out how to lead your team to creating the next level of incredible customer experience, this is the event for you.

Reach out to us if you want to be a part of this fascinating discussion.