The way we shop has always undergone a gradual change. However, in recent years, high street retail has seen a notably significant overhaul. A number of factors have contributed to this, which, of course, include the international health crisis and its resulting lockdowns. There are also other major developments, such as those within technology, as well as legal developments within data and environmental guidance, that have each transformed a favourite pastime for many into something unrecognisable in a relatively short period of time.
With many of these developments contributing to better customer safety, lower prices, and efficiency, customers generally prefer them. This means that, by proxy, those stores that fail to keep up with modern retail design and experience not only fall behind but also out of favour. Retailers who persevere with single-use plastics or reject contactless payments, while at first may have felt some vindication, are now being forced to adapt to demand or be left behind, especially as contactless payments now outnumber cash transactions.
We’ve put together the key factors and assets that make up a modern retail experience, from employee attitudes to shop shelving design, those that customers are increasingly likely to expect, to help prevent businesses from making the same mistakes.
Interestingly, despite the ease that comes with home delivery options, a quality that has often appealed to eCommerce customers, online searches seem to now indicate a preference for efficiency, prioritising services like click and collect. This indicates that, when given the option between ease and agility, customers actually prefer agility, choosing to travel to their local store if it means they can have their product more quickly. Retailers are using this to their advantage and prioritising efficiency and agility in their retail design.
Personalised shopping is one of the most sought-after experiences, with customers celebrating store features, such as personalised shoppers, shop fittings, and catalogues. Stores who make the effort to identify and connect with their customers at an individual level see increased brand loyalty, as well as greater customer satisfaction.
To achieve this, some retailers are incorporating new technologies, using mobile phone identification tools to acknowledge when individuals, those who have accepted the services, enter the premises, allowing employees and displays to begin customising the offerings.
A business’ ethics are becoming increasingly scrutinised with customers using social media to hold brands accountable for their actions and services. As such, there is greater justification for retailers to showcase their business practices with transparency, both online and offline, so as to demonstrate their adherence to an ethical standard that customers wish to identify with.
For retailers, this can manifest as a campaign, one that permeates products and brand design, or it can be within the design of a retail space, making use of upcycled retail furniture, other creating a space that incorporates nature and diversity, to echo the identity of a business. In the same way, retailers have historically created spaces that complement their brand, helping customers to enjoy the lifestyle and aesthetic associated with their product in-store, creating similar store aesthetics for a retailers ethical identity is now increasingly common.