Retailers are constantly looking at new ways to improve experiences for their customers. And with the online world of selling providing shoppers with everything they need at their fingertips, retailers have realised they need to offer more than a single product or service if they are to increase margins. 

Sainsbury’s have been an advocate of the store-in-store model for a number of years, following the introduction of Clarks shoes within their stores. This approach has now expanded following Sainsbury’s purchase of the Home Retail Group in 2016, with mini-Habitat’s being introduced into five stores in early 2017, providing shoppers with a luxury homeware experience alongside grocery & own-line clothing displays. 

Speaking to Retail Week, Habitat MD Clare Askem said: “This new relationship with Sainsbury’s offers the Habitat brand significant growth potential.

“We’ve seen our brand evolve rapidly over the last few years and the opportunity to create a new network of local stores with a new national partner that will support our multichannel business strategy is a really exciting prospect.

“We’ll be working closely with Sainsbury’s on these pilot stores to understand the full potential of this format and gauge customer reaction, but I’m confident that our brand will connect with Sainsbury’s shoppers and make Habitat more accessible to shoppers both on the high street and online.”

The approach is also being adopted by budget retailers such as Poundland, who have partnered with Pep & Co, the fastest growing fashion brand in the UK ( This partnership is intrinsic to the store-in-store approach, opening up a completely new market within a single location, designed to increase time spent in store and more frequent visits.


As a result, there’s added pressure on the design of each new department, requiring a clear differentiation to that of the main store. One of the most important and subliminal considerations when looking at developing a space is lighting. A study by the Lighting Laboratory at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology revealed some significant insights into the extent to which lighting influences shoppers, including:

  • Shoppers tend to prefer warm lighting and moderate brightness with brighter lighting within shop windows
  • Vertical rather than horizontal lighting helps products to stand out from their background more effectively
  • Varying light - such as shifting the colour according to the time of day or when a particular product is promoted – appeals to shoppers
  • People’s eyes are naturally drawn to areas of contrast, rather than the most brightly lit areas
  • Shoppers are attracted to areas of blue light more than any other colour.

This is in addition to the consideration of display technology. Modularity is more important than ever in store-in-store environments, as the confines of the surrounding store limits both available space and the feasibility of intricate retail design. Design is set to play a vital role when it comes to making sure such stores stand out from the crowd as they become more mainstream.


Consider your target audience

Being all things to all people rarely works. So, when designing a shop-in-shop, it’s crucial to establish what your ideal customer looks like. For example, a shop designed to appeal to hipsters could use exposed brick, filament bulbs, and vintage fonts (although retailers who adopt this aesthetic run the risk of looking like they're just copying everyone else; with faux authenticity unlikely to win hearts and minds). Ultimately, when it comes to the retail design, authenticity is key


Make it modular

The last thing you want is a rigid retail display. With ease of assembly, disassembly, and reassembly the name of the game, modular display structures offer a virtually endless amount of presentation options; limited only by the imagination of your designer.


Maximising technology

Technology can be used to connect brands with retailers like never before. For example, an app could be created that combines purchasing and GPS data to send tailored offers to customers on their smartphones based on where they are in a store.

Likewise, retailers such as Burberry and Harrods have been transforming the shopping experience with customer tablets for product browsing, interactive window displays, video-based ads, and mobile apps that allow shoppers to complete purchases on their own. And even traditional in-store signage can benefit from a fresh approach.

Take the new patented Kinetik Video Lightbox for example. Presenting moving images combined with printed graphics, the technology gives retailers the freedom to create eye-catching displays, strategically positioned around the store.


At Unibox, we transform concepts and ideas into a technical reality. Collaborating with retailers and design agencies we create attractive, engaging retail displays and environments that sell products more effectively. To find out more about how we can help you, contact us today for an informal chat.