The Future of Retail Store Design and What that Means for the Omnichannel

I’m not an Industrial Engineer. I’m a marketer. More specifically, I’ve spent most of my career working with or for advertising agencies and creative technology firms. When retail clients came to us with issues of sluggish sales or low store traffic, the response was almost always the same…more advertising, a new campaign and product discounts.

Sure, if the campaign was good enough and the discounts were deep enough, store traffic and subsequent sales would almost always improve. At least in the short-term…But, with the proliferation of ecommerce and the evolution of the highly educated consumer, most of the traditional strategies and tactics of driving customers to the store simply started to have less impact over time. And that’s where the importance of the retail store design has begun to play an ever-increasing and crucial part in this narrative.

Recently, I was able to sit down with Andrew Taylor, a Senior Director here at Connors Group and he explains…

“When you look at the retail winners and losers over the past several years, a few case studies come to mind. And, they all revolve around what happens in the store…”

“For example, Take Best Buy…they could have easily dug in their heels and ignored the internet and Showrooming; but instead, they embraced it and made changes to their stores that provide the consumer with a streamlined experience, better customer service, the ability to pay at multiple locations throughout the store, BOPIS and great visual displays with marquis brands presented and merchandised in a visually appealing way.”

Andrew continues…

“Future design is also about frictionless commerce like AmazonGo and Immersive experiences like what Starbucks is doing with their Reserve Roastery locations or what Restoration Hardware has done…”

“Recently, they (RH) built a 4-story showcase store in downtown West Palm Beach with a rooftop restaurant and bar. The store showcases their product in real-world settings and features a design center. It is not intended to directly drive sales, but to be a real-life experiential showcase. The restaurant is high-end and drives traffic through the three floors of lifestyle showcase below it. Talk about embracing the new world!”

“But, If you look at those retailers who haven’t embraced future-focused design strategies, you’ll likely come up with names like Kmart, Sears and Radio Shack…and we all know how that worked out.”

Online sales are growing rapidly, but still not the bulk of all retail sales globally…

These statistics from Statista, show that how and where customers shop is changing rapidly, but it also highlights that as a percentage, there are still far more in-store customer sales (globally) than exclusively online. That said, focused and nimble retailers that are ahead of the curve can remain successful by answering the needs of the consumer wherever they decide to purchase.

Source: E-commerce share of total global retail sales from 2015 to 2021 – Statista 2019

What does this mean for the Omnichannel?

“As Industrial Engineers, our focus is to help our retail clients maximize their design strategies and capitalize on those customers that are in their stores. This is very important to the Omnichannel experience, because the customer is now in control and wants a consistent and convenient experience wherever they choose to shop or engage with the clients we serve.” Added Jeff Peretin, President of Connors Group… “It is also important that future store designs address flexibility over time to account for the continued evolution of digital commerce and consumer demands.”

What are your thoughts?

How do you see retail addressing the needs of the customer through store design?

Stay tuned for more insight on this subject and more!

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John Cilli

Director of Marketing
Director of Marketing for Connors Group
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