EuroShop is renowned for playing host to what is, at times, a huge array of exhibitors, products, technologies and ideas. Companies from all over the world descend on Dusseldorf for the 4-day event in order to showcase their latest innovations and meet with new clients, partners and suppliers.

But, whilst the variety or exhibitors is remarkable, it can prove overwhelming. Recognising this, our team of Designers, Product Developers and Creative Directors decided to sneak away from the Unibox stand at this year’s expo with the goal of distilling exactly what we’ll be seeing in retail during the next 12 months.

So, in no particular order, let’s take a closer look at the top 5 trends at EuroShop 2020!

 

1. Sustainability.

With environmental activists such as Greta Thunberg sitting in positions of such prominence, and with social movements such as veganism rising to unprecedented levels of popularity, it’s hardly surprising that sustainability proved to be one of the most prevalent issues for retailers at this year’s EuroShop.

Brands are becoming increasingly aware that shoppers from all over the world are demanding that they do MUCH more to operate in accordance with global environmental objectives. Yes, this is a realisation which has snowballed in recent years, thanks in part to research carried out by the likes of Accenture. The results from nationwide questionnaires reveal that over 62% of UK consumers choose to buy from companies that are taking meaningful action to reduce their carbon footprint.

We noticed that a large number of the exhibitors at this year’s EuroShop were not ignorant of this fact, with brand agencies, store designers and visual merchandisers (amongst many others) all seizing the opportunity to showcase the ways in which they are working to help retailers become ‘greener’ and commit to embracing the circular economy.

More than ever before, exhibitors were making a real effort to highlight their personal commitments to operating sustainably. We saw this manifest in several ways, such as the use of environmentally friendly materials in the construction of exhibition stands, the promotion of products made using sustainable resources (wood, aluminium and recycled plastics amongst others) and the celebration of energy-saving technologies like LED lights.

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2. Experiences.

Ulrich Spaan of the EHI Retail Institute has spoken extensively on the growing importance of ‘experiences’ within retail environments. When interviewed, he commented that “stores need to offer consumers a sense of community through an interactive experience that allows [them] to feel and touch. This is true for all types of retail, from fashion, sports and food.” He went on to add that, increasingly, we are seeing retailers use their physical stores (permanent, concept and pop-up) “not to sell” products but to build their identity and “create brand awareness” instead.

These reflections were definitely echoed by the exhibitors at this year’s EuroShop, that’s for sure. We saw widespread appreciation of the fact that, in today’s so-called “experience economy”, stores need to be social spaces. They are no longer just places to go and buy products (as has long been the case) but are also destinations in which people can gather as a community of likeminded individuals who are brought together by their mutual interest in the products, services or experiences that are offered by a given brand.

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Now, all of this being said, there are secondary factors to consider…namely the issue of personalisation. Whilst it’s true that stores need to be spaces for group interaction, the experiences provided must have an individualised element. Brands must make their customers feel connected to one another and as if they’re part of something bigger than themselves, all the while reassuring them that their individuality is being acknowledge and celebrated.

So, where can we already see examples of this top EuroShop trend on the high-street?

Firstly, the Nike House of Innovation has mastered the art of personalised customer experiences. It gives consumers the chance to design their own shoes in-store and then have them made on-site. Industry commentator, Steve Dennis, effectively summarised this initiative when writing “retail isn’t dead, boring retail is.”

As well as this, we’re seeing a huge rise in the number of retailers choosing to integrate coffee bars, café areas and beauty salons into their stores in an effort to offer shoppers a multi-sensory experience that (crucially) they can’t access online. Primark and Next, for example, are just two of the high-street retailers that have embraced the idea of ‘coffee-shopping’ as a way of encouraging customers to spend longer in-store.

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3. Targeting Generation-Z.

Research is consistently showing that younger shoppers – those that fall into the categories of Generation Z and Millennials – prefer to spend their money in physical stores as opposed to online. This might come as a surprise to many, especially given that people in these age groups have grown up alongside the internet, but it’s a trend that relates closely back to the notion of retailers providing their customers with experiences as well as products.

Yes, whilst these shoppers prefer to visit a store in person, they do still live large amounts of their lives online. What does this mean for retailers? Well, in order to remain relevant in the eyes of this demographic, brands should rethink the interior design of their physical stores so that they’re more “instagrammable”. By creating shopping environments that are photogenic from floor to ceiling, Gen-Z customers can browse a store whilst simultaneously sharing their experiences with friends on social media.

At Euroshop, we saw exhibitors using a wide range of different materials and technologies to create aesthetically stunning displays that we couldn’t help but photograph. From towering LED screens showing animated graphics through to impressive installations of flowers, attention was definitely being given to the creation of exhibition stands which visitors wanted to admire, photograph and share online.

A brand that has already embraced this shift in consumer demands is schuh. One of the UK’s biggest footwear retailers, schuh is currently in the process of updating and upgrading the format of its stores with the help of a revolutionary merchandising system. Referred to as the ‘TwentyTwenty’ initiative, this effort sees schuh creating shopping environments which are designed to attract a younger generation of consumers. The system blends futuristic, visually striking materials and eye-catching integrated lighting to achieve an end result which is already paying dividends.

 

4. Flexibility.

It’s no secret that retailers are under huge amounts of pressure to remain reactive to changing customer demands…and that this amount of pressure is growing huger by the day. Yes, the pace of retail today is lightning-fast, as consumers are expecting brands to provide them with all the latest products, experiences and technologies.

What does this mean in practice? It means that retailers need to be in a constant state of readiness to change in order to remain relevant and interesting. How? By regularly updating merchandising campaigns, product launches and instore experiences to satisfy the demands of their customers. Industry commentator, Alison Meding, summarised this when saying that “…creating products with more flexibility for the retailer” such as “kit-of-part fixtures, magnetic wall systems and changeable graphics/surfaces…” was crucial for store designers and manufacturers of visual merchandising solutions.

EuroShop exhibitors weren’t ignorant of this fact, either, with many focusing on the ways in which they could enable retailers to harness flexibility as an advantage against their competitors. One of the main ways we saw this in practice was the use of modular display systems. Being quick and easy to reconfigure according to the requirements of different product activations and seasonal displays, modular displays enable retailers to remerchandise stores as often as is needed to keep pace with their competitors and provide shoppers with new, engaging offers.

On top of this, modular systems have the added benefit of helping to offset the costs incurred by constantly updating store displays. How is this so? The inherent reconfigurability of modular displays means that retailers only need to invest once in the core infrastructure required for product promotions. With just one system, visual merchandising teams can create an infinite variety of displays to suit different product ranges, seasonal campaigns and rebranding efforts.

 

5. Technology.

The increasing presence of technology and digitisation in traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ stores is a natural reflection of the direction in which society is moving. With younger generations having grown up alongside the latest advances in tech, the presence of such tools is now an integral part of our everyday lives…and one that shows no signs of leaving.

Retailers must embrace this trend if they are to remain profitable, and the exhibitors at this year’s EuroShop were keen to demonstrate how they could help ease this transition. We saw examples of interactive augmented reality zones, VR experiences, self-checkout systems and the widespread use of devices such as iPads and tablets to deliver detailed product information to visitors on demand.

This immediacy really is at the heart of the integration of physical and digital retail. We’re all able to access information about a brand’s products, prices and policies with just a few taps on our smart phones, and retailers need to rethink the function of their sales assistants in light of this. Instead of acting as sellers, store staff need to assume the role of consultants and offer shoppers balanced, detailed information so that they feel able to make independent choices about their purchases. How can this be achieved? Well, one effective way that is already being implemented by several high-street brands such as Apple is by giving staff access to iPads and tablets. Having product information, price updates and stock levels at their fingertips, store assistants are able to provide the same service to customers as they would get from their own smart devices. Moreover, iPads and tablets are an excellent way of helping customers access the speed of online shopping in physical stores. This can be achieved by using them to create mobile POS systems which prevent shoppers from having to waste time standing in queues.

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If you would like to learn more about Unibox’s retail display and lighting capabilities, contact a member of our team today.

Speak with an expert by calling 0161 655 2100, send us an email [email protected] or ask us to call you back at a time that suits you here.