How Leading Retailers are Disrupting Traditional Store Design
The days of depending on your nearby shopping center for Christmas shopping are gone. The decisions and stock available to the cutting edge buyer are virtually limitless through the Internet. Numerous physical retail organizations have thought that it was difficult to compete and shuttered their doors entirely, retreating to online-only storefronts or disappearing entirely. A few business, however, have recognized the disruption of conventional storefront models as an opportunity.
These retailers are thriving because they have embraced the evolution of retail design from utilitarian necessity to engaging, experiential spaces. They are building smaller and more intelligent spaces with client experience at their core. Instead of endless aisles of products, we're seeing stores that are more similar to showrooms. These new spaces are less less focused on inventory than they are on satisfying the client's desire to see, feel, and touch the product. Stores like Ikea and Apple have been seeing huge success with experiential stores for quite a long time and the trend keeps on to pick up steam.
In keeping with creating an experience for the customer, retail events are on the rise to get consumers into the store. According to Modern Consumer Research, a full 60% of shoppers in the US market would be interested in attending an in-store event. Events offering early access to products topped the interest list with educational events and DIY workshops coming in close behind. Customers also expressed interest in attending a performance, celebrity appearance, book signing, or influential speaker event at a retail store.
In order to survive and thrive, the retail storefront model needs to adapt and evolve to meet demand by providing services and experiences that customers can’t get online. For existing stores, this means extensive remodel and construction initiatives. Even big box stores like Target are reshaping their interiors, fixture design, and store fit outs to be more focused on experience and less on the aisle by aisle maze. For new retailers, they have the opportunity to build out in radically different ways from the start.
Many exclusively online retailers are stepping off the screen and into the brick-and-mortar world, pairing these models with new and innovative construction. One such retailer making the jump from digital to brick-and-mortar is menswear retailer, Huckberry. Their popup location in Manhattan’s West Village is open now through January 2019 and combines what they call “actionable adventures” with their products. Huckberry is offering seven different adventure itineraries that range from a local “West Village Drinking Tour with Jack Kerouac” to more ambitious trips like “72 Hours in Iceland.” The store carries an edited selection of men’s apparel, footwear, and gifts targeted to each itinerary. In-store events include fireside chats with Huckberry “ambassadors,” product demos, and co-branded events with partners like Men’s Journal and Popular Mechanics.
Nordstrom is expanding their presence with an innovative new endeavor called “neighborhood hubs” – bright and airy locations that carry no inventory. Instead, Nordstrom Local offers returns and same-day online purchase pick-ups, alongside premium services like personal stylists, tailoring, manicures. Shoppers can enjoy a selection of juices, wine, and beer while they indulge in a pedicure and wait for an alteration to be completed.
The fit out of these locations are more reminiscent of an upscale boutique and meeting space than a department store. The goal is to create spaces that function at the intersection of online convenience and in-store experience. The concept, thus far, is working. Nordstrom’s co-president, Blake Nordstrom told analysts that their efforts to localize on and offline are a “cornerstone” of their success. “When customers engage with us across stores and online, on average they spend five times more, and profitability per customer doubles.”