In 2017, format development is set to shake up the high-street. And, as fashion retailers pull out all the stops to stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace, the shopping experience is set to go one of two ways.

For some retailers, it will be all about the flagship. A destination venue in their own right, flagships provide an interactive and immersive shopping experience that generates that all important wow factor. But while this approach is perfect for bigger players, not every retailer has the budget needed to showcase their brand in such spectacular style.

But this doesn’t mean that smaller fashion brands will be left behind in the fight to win hearts and minds, with local, personal boutiques set to be just as powerful when it comes to alluring shoppers.


A return to a more traditional shopping experience?

Delivering a more intimate and traditional shopping experience, boutiques aim to reawaken what we’ve lost in terms of customer service and interaction. But this doesn’t mean a return to an outdated mode of shopping; one that didn’t go beyond a customer entering, selecting an item, and handing it to the cashier to buy.

Instead, special membership programmes aimed at delivering unique privileges is one way that retailers are looking to step up their game when it comes to customer service. Invite only shopping events, partnership opportunities (such as tasting experiences) and other activities that can only be experienced in person will also add value to brands (and their products) in a way online just can’t replicate.

One-of-a-kind merchants and pop-ups will also play a central role as fashion retailers respond to a backlash from people who want to be treated as individuals rather than consumers. With pop-ups appealing to those hankering after a touch of nostalgia and a return to old-fashioned personal service, while at the same time offering something truly current, it’s a compelling proposition.

As such, when we talk about what type of format development retailers will be opting for in 2017, it’s more sophisticated than flagship (big budget) vs. boutique (small budget). In fact, established retailers and previously online-only brands are also getting in on the pop-up act. 

Find out more about why the pop-up is becoming increasingly popular


What does the rise of the pop-up mean for retail design?

With an estimated 10% of retailers planning to open a pop-up in the next five years, design is set to play a crucial role when it comes to making sure stores stand out from the crowd as the format becomes more mainstream.

Boutique shoppers have become sceptical of anything overly corporate, and instead, are demanding a more authentic approach to retail design. As such, lighting, modular display structures, texture, signage (such as neon-like LED derivatives), and even scent need to be handled carefully; with faux authenticity unlikely to convince savvy shoppers.

But this doesn’t mean the pop-up has to be minimal. Today, many retailers are creating best-in-class temporary displays that speak directly to their target audience. Delivering long-term value, once they know what works, these designs can be cost-engineered before being rolled out in more traditional stores.

Find out more about how to convey authenticity in retail design.


Location is also set to play an important role; with designers drawing on cultural influences to create an environment that integrates into the surrounding area.

Finally a word of warning; just because shoppers want a return to traditional values, doesn’t mean that tech doesn’t have a place to play. If anything social media should be used to enhance the personalised shopping experience; so retailers need to stay true to their roots while continually innovating. It’s no coincidence that the growth of pop-up stores has happened at the same time as the rise in social media.

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.