With the potential for new variants of COVID, record levels of inflation, and shifting consumer preferences, the design of retail in 2022 will change more in the next year than it has in the past decade. Retailers need to expand beyond the generic retail spaces of the past to maximize shopper capacity, security, and profitability. Here are the three key factors affecting POS design, and what retailers and brands need to do next.
1. Focus on buying ability
Consumers experience brands and buy differently than ten years ago. Retailers need to fire on all cylinders with both a strong physical presence – as well as a complementary online strategy across mobile, web and social media – to maximize sales and impact.
We’ve all seen beautiful and cutting-edge store designs, but how has their performance held up over the long haul? Stores still need traditional shopping capability: having the right combination of products, promotions, prices and people – but also simple factors like ease of entering the store, navigation, try on items, until the purchase is finalized at checkout.
The in-store experience can no longer be about restocking shelves and hoping for the best. In-store classes and product demonstrations, expert staff, exclusive in-store items and offers, and added value on top of clicking “order” on a screen are just a few ways to ensure that a of physical store really stands out.
The brand experience can also extend beyond the physical store. Similar to product placement in movies, retailers may want to collaborate with other groups and brands – inside and outside the retail world – to cross paths with consumer bases.
For example, several museums in New York City have recently held exhibitions on sneaker design, hip hop and graffiti in New York in the 1980s. These types of exhibitions would be a perfect opportunity for an emerging fashion, jewelry, or sneaker brand, or even an established brand like Nike, to be part of the exhibit, with the opportunity to buy.
2. The continuous evolution of commercial spaces
Retail is changing rapidly and there is an online and physical consequence to this development. Retailers need to recognize their place not only as a showroom, but also as a distribution center – supporting the online component and the “last mile” of the business. With 88% of consumers surveyed willing to pay more for same-day or faster delivery, using physical space as a logistics hub — a way to process online orders and pickups — is another way to drive profit from retail rent.
Conversely, the way we use aging commercial spaces has also changed. With the demise of major mall anchor tenants – which initially drove traffic to malls and provided an influx of customers to smaller retailers, food and beverage tenants and more – former suburban retail spaces have evolved into medical spaces, schools, and even flexible office spaces, piggybacking on the need for remote workspaces during the pandemic. This type of space repurposing brings traffic to the mall and enlivens the retail business there.
3. Create an attractive gathering space
Much can be purchased online, but there is no substitute for an exciting and inspiring shopping journey. Brands will continue to need physical presence as a direct, in-person link to customers and to stay at the forefront of their market.
Brand loyalty occurs when a brand uses retail space as a gathering space for its tribe. If you are at the REI, there may be a climbing wall; if you’re at Williams-Sonoma, maybe there are chocolate chip cookies that fill the store with a wonderful scent. Ultimately, if you want your store to have a strong ROI, make it a destination, a traffic driver – and you do that through effective store design.
For the first time in over a decade, it’s possible to capture iconic locations that may not have been available before. In New York, places like Rockefeller Center, SoHo or Flatiron – whose asking rents 10 years ago would have been catastrophic – can now be bought at a more affordable price. Brands can take advantage of today’s tough times and secure a great location that will add extra shine to their brand.
Retail is brimming with opportunity for brands in 2022. As the main driver of the US economy, it’s not something that’s going away. Optimize the physical appearance of the retail store to maximize New Year’s success, outpace the competition, and create a remarkable shopping experience that customers will love.
Eugene Colberg is a Brooklyn-based architect with over 25 years of experience producing award-winning architecture and interiors in the United States and around the world. As principal of Colberg Architecture, he has designed imaginative and environmentally friendly projects in residential, workplace, retail, education, healthcare, institutions, museums and town planning. With a BArch from Cornell University, Colberg is a licensed architect in New York State, Green Associate of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). Colberg Architecture is a Certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) with the City and State of New York and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Colberg has worked on premier retail store deployments across the globe, aligning in-store architecture and design with brand identity. Past projects include Rockefeller Center and the development of prototypes for major brands such as Bank United, PNC Bank and Kate Spade, as well as the flagship design of stores such as the National Basketball Association (NBA), Uniqlo, LOFT and Armani Exchange .