This guide is a store experience design report on how retailers can apply spatial experience design and personalized services to enhance the human experience and create a deeper connection in retail.
Adapt or die has never been more true for the retail industry, specifically with regard to leaders in the brick and mortar space. The rapid acceleration of e-commerce has transformed the entire industry landscape, making it imperative for stores to evolve their fundamentals from the ground up, centering their services and solutions on doing a better job of delivering unique, convenient, and quality experiences. The way consumers shop has likewise been radically impacted by today’s ongoing digital transformation – and as the role of the store evolves, it is mission-critical to meet the new expectations shoppers have around service (i.e. personalization, expertise, immersive browsing). These new tenets of shopper behavior are setting the stage for retail’s exciting next chapter – the evolution of the store experience.
In this report, PSFK iQ researchers analyze how leading retailers are rethinking their entire experience design and offerings by leveraging innovative solutions to cultivate community, boost traffic and dwell time, strengthen loyalty, and successively win greater share of wallet. Ultimately, readers should come away with a thorough understanding of practical ways in which their organization or brand can differentiate itself and best engage tomorrow’s shopper by optimizing the store’s role within their brand ecosystem.
Across the marketplace, innovative retailers are leveraging future-fit technology to create enhanced, blended retail experiences that empower consumers to take greater control of their shopping journey. The sensory experiences and personal connections inherent to the ultimate user experience of the physical store retail occasion can’t be found anywhere else. At every customer experience journey in physical retail – from product discovery to post- purchase support – the most progressive retailers are connecting with customers by layering in brand activations, on-demand access to subject matter experts, and lifestyle programming.
When it comes to developing strategies for the in-store experience, retailers (and the consumer goods companies that are stocked in store) can build for the future of retail by leveraging our framework of a continuous cycle of update and innovation.
A key element in the framework is the Foundational segment – where retail stores need to adapt to emergent CX trends by leveraging technologies to streamline and enhance the back-end of its operations.
In the Engagement segment where retail spaces must support the needs of its customers beyond just the items on their shopping list. Our third segment outlines the strategies for the Responsive Store.
In this session, PSFK researchers discuss with industry experts how retailers should rethink their entire experience design and offerings by leveraging innovative solutions in order to cultivate community, boost traffic and dwell time, strengthen loyalty, and successively win greater share of wallet.
This retail industry trends research paper has been developed by the same researchers and analysts who help the world’s leading companies (inc. Nike, Google & Samsung) understand key drivers and activate powerful trends. PSFK researchers help companies that include Nike, Google & Samsung with their sector-leading market research platform and bespoke trends research and innovation consulting.
As how people buy further blurs the lines between on and offline, what people buy and how they express themselves is also changing, creating a new market for hybrid products that have value in both worlds. The introduction of blockchain and NFTs is allowing digital- only purchases like fashion, beauty and accessories to be verified and exchanged, and in some cases, paired with a twin in real life and vice versa. This means that ownership...Community Platforms
Brands are building stronger communities by establishing digital and physical platforms and activations that help foster the relationship among customers and encourage participation, empowering consumers to co-create the rules and even inviting them into the R&D process. It includes hosting programmed events to build confidence in a purchase or product use in an engaging manner. It also includes peer-to-peer platforms where consumers can interact and exchange with each other.Expert Consults
Positioning in-store associates as product experts capable of providing customers with personally informed one-to-one consultations, hyper-relevant solutions or suggestions, and empowering them to play a significant role in customer acquisition and retention as more customers enter an experience with elevated expectations around tailored engagement based on current needs and expertise based on demonstrated knowledge.Localized Learnings
Retailers are leveraging information gleaned from connected stores and digital learnings to inform and continually iterate the in-store experience. By applying these insights on a localized level, retailers are ensuring more relevant store experiences – from merchandising and product selections to in-store activations, technology and services.Creator Platform
Retailers are leveraging their physical footprint as a resource for creators and entrepreneurs as they look to build their own customer base and develop their brand. Acting as a launchpad, retailers are not only amplifying new voices, but also broadening their consumer base by connecting new designers and creatives to local consumers and communities by offering mentorship, creating dedicated floor space and inviting experts to hosting in-store classes and programs.Immersive Playground
Retailers are championing the experience economy by adding play zones to their physical store locations. The imaginative experiences span demographics and age groups, and aim to increase loyalty and shopper ROI by adding an element of engaging fun to the shopping journey. Providing memories families and even adults can’t wait to return to is one way brick-and-mortar can build an experiential moat and competitively differentiate against online commerce.Store As Media
Brick and Mortar stores are becoming media centers. With the store-as-media model, retailers are curating special in-store experiences, and gaining deeper information about how assortments, displays, end caps and product packaging influence consumers’ purchase decisions.Tailored Product Fit
Along with physically touching a product, trial and try-on are two driving factors for consumers’ preference for IRL over eCom. To create a better experience and provide more personalized recommendations, retailers are outfitting their stores and associates with tech-supported tools to help customers determine the optimal product selection.Meta-Layered Stores
Shoppers have already become accustomed to using their mobile devices when shopping in-store to access product information and content. To lean into these behaviors, retailers are integrating entertainment, gaming, and other dynamic elements into the physical shopping occasion. This seamless layer of digital interactivity creates a truly hybrid experience that brings the store and its products to life in exciting ways. Beyond this new level of engagement, forward-looking retailers are also setting up ways for...
Condé Nast magazine Allurehas created a 360-degree retail experience, opening its first store in NYC where customers can shop the magazine’s editorials and featured beauty products IRL. Described as “media on the ground,” the Allure store is introducing new readers to the beauty and self-care magazine, attracting audiences to not only in-store events like masterclasses and panels, but also to its website, podcasts and social channels. For brands to have their products featured in the store, they will first need to be editor-approved and appear within the magazine. For the 170 brands currently shoppable within the magazine’s store, the publication is offering an enhanced view of how consumers interact with their products, both physically and through smart mirrors, and scannable codes featured in the space.PepsiCo’s Unmanned Store Offers Customers A Checkoutless Experience
PepsiCo revealed an AI-powered unmanned store that is designed to give shoppers a contactless and secure checkoutless experience. Debuting at the Expo in Dubai, shoppers can enter the Pepsi Go kiosk by tapping, inserting or swiping a payment card to open the doors. Inside, the store tracks the shopper’s beverage and snack selection using AI and computer recognition technology so that consumers are able to just walk out. Powered by Mastercard Payment Gateway Services technology, the checkoutless payment eliminates all long lines. PepsiCo also included an Aquafina station that allows visitors to customize their beverages and sync their preferences using a QR-coded reusable bottle. Returning customers can re-scan their QR code to have the machine automatically pull up their preferences.Starbucks Offers Free Aira Service, Which Connects Customers With Visual Impairments To Trained Visual Interpreters
Starbucks offers free on-demand visual interpreting service across all U.S. company-operated and licensed stores. Aira, the tool provider who became Starbucks’ partner on the initiative, connects blind and low-vision people to trained visual interpreters who provide instant access to visual information through a smartphone app. Instead of remembering what’s on the menu and possibly missing new seasonal options or exclusive in-store offers, consumers can access all store experiences like regular customers. To connect with the Aira Agent, customers need to download the Aira app first and then connect with the agent during their store visit. To serve the disabled community even better, Starbucks and Aira are launching events across the U.S to learn more about the service and increase their own independence.Guess Is Using Digital Store Twins To Streamline Its Merchandising
Utilizing “digital twin” technology, the fashion retailer Guess is able to provide consistency across its stores for shoppers and create immersive, virtual experiences for employees, external buyers, and wholesale partners. The technology helps streamline retail operations and ensure that the stores are stocked with the products customers are looking for.GAP Opens Shoppable Brand Laboratories At Its SF HQ
GAP Inc. is opening four new retail spaces at its San Francisco headquarters, designed to support retail innovation among the Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Athleta brands. The stores, which are fully shoppable and will add a combined 18,000 square feet of retail space to the GAP HQ location, will also serve as labs to “test new store technologies, consumer experiences and product innovations,” and allow visitors to watch the retailer’s creative teams at work.Apple Expanded Its Community Education Initiative To More Than 600 Communities
Since 2019, Apple's Community Education Initiative has brought coding, creativity, and career opportunities to learners of all ages and communities traditionally underrepresented in technology. With a new report, the company indicates that it has expanded the programme to 150 educational partners and 600 communities in 99 countries and all 50 states. Through the initiative, Apple collaborates with each partner organization to customize and enhance programming to support the community's individual goals. This includes a variety of resources, including hardware, scholarships, learning resources, financial support and access to teams of Apple experts who work side by side with the educators along the programme.Dyson’s Styling Tour Invites Customers To Experience Salon Styling In-Store
This summer, Dyson set off on a first-ever Styling Tour, an immersive beauty pop-up experience, across the whole UK. Those who attended one of the 7 branded events could access salon-quality styling and receive professional help regarding hair health and care, including individual diagnostics, personalized recommendations and demonstrations - all from Dyson’s experts. Temporary salons featured up to 7 styling stations where visitors could pre-book a 30-minute appointment or get hands-on to try the appliances and care products themselves. For those who required it, a private styling experience was also available.Camp’s Immersive Experience Features Encanto, An Award Winning Disney Movie
Camp, a family-oriented experiential retailer, continues its partnership with Disney with a new immersive space around the award-winning movie Encanto. Taking over 6,000- square feet of space, Camp carefully recreated the house of the animated Colombian family in real-life size, Antonio's rainforest, Isabela's flower-filled room and more. The area also features secret passages, surprises behind "magic doors" and interactive scenes, not only the ones inspired by the film but uniquely created for the Camp's Experience. On top of all that, Camp's merchants have prepared custom-made, exclusive goods inspired by the movie that can only be found at Camp. By February 2023, the experience will move to another Camp location.IKEA And H&M Open Up “Ideas Factory” For Creatives Streetwear Brand Funds Creative Studio Space
Brain Dead co-founder and film fan Kyle Ng invested profits from his LA streetwear brand to fund a creative space, Brain Dead Studios, in an old cinema on Fairfax Street in Los Angeles. Back to the Future II and Andy Warhol’s Dracula screen alongside independent films; there are live music gigs; and the Slammers restaurant sells iced coffee and hotdogs. Brain Dead’s hoodies and latest collections are also sold. The space is curated by Brain Dead’s collective of designers and artists. Surprising collaborations draw in new communities, and its immersive retail-mixed-with-events approach is more akin to selling merchandise after a gig.London Nike Rise Outpost Draws On Data To Provide Localized Experiences
Building on the success of Nike Rise in China and Korea, the sportswear giant Nike is bringing the concept to London. The Rise store is designed to be unique to each city they’re in, along with data on the city, brand and athletes to create tailored experiences, community events and insights for sports fanatics. To further tap into the community pulse, the store uses Sport Pulse, a digital platform that harnesses data from various Nike sources to generate localized messaging and marketing for customers in-store. Insights from Sports Pulse will be used across the store, like the Footwear Fast Lane, a digital footwear wall providing more personal product guidance. By pursuing localization and community on a larger scale, Nike is hoping to increase brand loyalty and drive more shoppers to become members, meaning they’ve signed up for one of Nike’s apps. By making its apps more useful for consumers, Nike will also earn more access to customer data, in turn strengthening the relevance of its locally-geared stores.Zero10 and Crosby Studios Launched AR-Infused Pop-Up With Digital-Only Clothing
Zero10, a global AR-fashion platform, and Crosby Studios, a design studio, collaboratively created a digital-only clothing retail pop-up shop allowing visitors to “try on” digital clothing in a physical place. Instead of racks with clothes like in a regular clothing store, customers could access the five-piece virtual collection designed by Crosby Studios via QR codes placed around the spot. Utilizing Zero10’s AR technology and vibrant design, the space was meant to feel like a portal into the metaverse and an innovative solution for virtual fashion try-on in a physical setting.Ferragamo Attracts A Younger Audience With New Soho Concept Store
The Italian heritage brand Salvatore Ferragamo’s concept store in New York’s Soho neighborhood combines experiential retail and web3 technology. The creative hub features digital elements like customizable sneakers, holograms and an NFT booth. Using a touch screen, visitors are able to render photo-realistic, three-dimensional holograms of their made-to-order sneakers. After the order is placed, the shoes are manufactured and delivered directly to customers' homes. Alongside access to customizable products, Ferragamo is also giving away free NFTs with purchase of their customizable sneakers.. Within the mirrored booth, customers select and customize digital artwork from artist Shxpir. Their final choice is then minted on the spot as an NFT on Ethereum via OpenSea. Visitors enter their email address to receive the social-friendly video of their art and to claim the NFT in their wallet.Maserati Connects Car Designs Across Its Online Portal, Dealerships & Showrooms
As part of its OTO (‘online to offline’ or vice versa) retail experience, Maserati is positioning its dealerships and showrooms to become more closely involved across every customers’ journey. Using “My Maserati Showroom”, North American consumers are able to start their process online by making reservations at their local dealership and configuring their preferred model from home. Other tools like “My Maserati Expert” and “Remote Test Drive” enable consumers to book time with specialists online, and then set up a test drive experience IRL either at the showroom or at their home. When customers arrive in the showroom, for either a test drive or to make a final purchase, associates are outfitted with each customers’ details that had been shared in the Maserati portal.