Founders of Istanbul-based design publication in-between.online, Bilgen Coşkun and Dilek Öztürk discussed the rising values of retail experience design with experience design agency I-AM ’s Group Partner and Managing Director, architect Emre Kuzlu at the House last month.
They clue us into the seven retail design trends in the industry right now.
1. Engage your customer
Social media changed the way brands communicate with their customers. A dialogue-based communication creates emotional relations between brands and their consumers. This phenomenon should be integrated into retail experience design by allowing customers to use all of their five senses while experiencing the environment. Pragmatic experiences last only for a short time, whereas emotional experiences last much longer and create stronger relations.
2. Tell authentic stories
Applying methods, linguistic and design signatures, customisation and ways of making that stem from extensive research and involve personal touches create authentic storytelling in retail. In an era where customers perceive experience not as a method to promote sales, but more as a ‘product’ on its own means authentic stories become even more relevant in creating communal interactions and cultural platforms. A good example is LN-CC, a progressive concept store in London, that converts an industrial space into a cocoon where you can find a well curated selection of fashion, music and other lifestyle areas, while referring to the 90s underground clubbing scene.
3. Become tech-enabled
Online experiences can now be customised, as brands hold sufficient customer data with traditional retail becoming outdated. Many retailers use technology to improve their customer experience. This should, however, be replaced with integrating the customer data into the retail experience, which will also increase customer satisfaction. When brands can track the interaction in retail spaces, they can improve the quality of their retail customer experience.
4. Make it personal
Market saturation and disposable products lead customers to acquire what they value. This can be generated by personalised experiences, which make the customer feel that the experience was created ‘just for them’. Tech-enabled stores can offer a better designed personalised experience, ways to do this vary from adapting features of the products or services to a specific customer’s taste to creating completely bespoke ones.
5. Surprise your customer
In other words, bring unexpected things to the table. This requires out of the box thinking. Information-overload and short concentration span are challenges brands face while trying to connect with their customers. Start with a surprising stimulus in order to grab their attention. The customers should be able to relate to the stimulus and in turn with the retail experience. Vetements’ pop-up shop–cum–street party in a parking lot is a good example (remember its shocking DHL T-Shirts?). It truly surprised the customers with a unique retail experience.
6. Merge education with experience
Educational experiences not only create value for customers, but also brands by teaching customers new ways of using products. Curating is one of the hot topics in the consumer behaviour discussion. While consumers become prosumers and gain active roles in the design of products and services, they tend to create personas based on their consumption. Through curating their lifestyles, consumers present their taste and way of living. In this sense, educating consumers in a fun way becomes an essential part of retail experience design.
7. Make entertainment your focus
Millennials tend to purchase experiences rather than tangible products. Therefore brands that can integrate entertainment into their retail experience design successfully generate traffic to their stores and connect with their customers more effectively. Customers experiencing the entertainment in retail stores tend to share their experience on social media, which spreads the experience to wider audiences digitally.