We headed down to the 2018 Retail Design Expo to find out more about the latest trends in retail and engage in the conversation. The Retail Design Expo is Europe’s leading annual event for innovation and inspiration in retail. New approaches to customer engagement, retail strategy, the latest in new thinking, inspirational talks and innovative suppliers are all under one roof.
Customer Experience & Emotional Connections
One of the key topics discussed was the undeniable importance of the customer experience within retail. Despite the much-publicised downfall of some high street brands, retail is not as dead as it seems. It is mediocre retail that is dead. Businesses that fail to adapt and tailor their strategy towards the customer are doomed to collapse as the consumer landscape changes. Even though online sales are growing at an exponential rate, brick and mortar stores play a key role in a brand’s story and offer a totally unique experience. People shop online for the convenience, but they come in-store to be delighted and for an emotional connection. The face-to-face interaction can never be trumped by an online purchase. Using the store as a centre where staff can interact with customers in a meaningful way will ensure that they feel a connection with a brand that will lead them to return to the store again and again. A push to understand how the customer wants to shop can help to craft your store into a compelling and immersive experience.
The customer is king, or so we’ve been told. While the customer is still an integral concern in retail strategy, one particularly engaging talk from EE showcased how an emphasis on the staff can totally revolutionise a business. They argued for a balance between sales and service whilst highlighting a study by Warwick University that showed a 12% increase in productivity when a workforce felt happy and motivated. EE put this into practice by analysing the customer journey through the lens of the staff. They asked themselves; how can we create a space and a business our employees are excited to work in? This approach led to a total overhaul of their store design. They articulated their vision for service without barriers in every detail of their store layout. Creating layered seating, abolishing service desks, and banning all cardboard from the store created a space where customers could have meaningful interactions with staff. If there are no service desks, then service is everywhere. It was an interesting discussion which highlighted some of the limitations of a customer-centric approach to retail. Investment in your staff and an understanding of the type of workplace they wish to be in can lead to them feeling energised and empowered. This passion for the company is visible to customers and will entice them to connect with a brand.
‘The product is a souvenir of the experience’
Mike Roberts from GREENROOM DESIGN
‘Shopping online is like watching fireworks on TV’
Roger Wade, CEO, BoxPark
‘Create service without barriers, then service become ubiquitous’
Ian Johnston, Founder and Creative Director, QUININE