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What are fashion retailers doing to evolve the shopping experience?
We all know the emergence of online forced fashion retailers to change the way they did business. But, while e-commerce websites and apps are now firmly part of the shopping experience, they are far from the only challenges faced by the high-street.
Unseasonal weather has been throwing off traditional buying patterns. And, while it’s too early to predict just what will happen following Brexit, in buying a significant amount of goods overseas, fashion retailers risk a fall-out as they contemplate increased import costs and possible trade tariffs from the EU.
What’s more, customer expectations have changed dramatically over the last few years. Shopping is still a social experience; but modern retailers must give people a reason to leave the comfort of their homes. Combine these challenges, and it’s no surprise that the high-street fashion retail market has become exceedingly competitive.
Let’s face it, once upon a time, most stores looked the same, and the shopping experience didn’t go much beyond entering, choosing an item, and handing it to the cashier to buy. However as the industry evolves to the next level, fashion retailers have to be bold to raise their game and stand out from the crowd. Status quo retail design is no longer an option.
Changing store formats
Format development is set to shake up the high-street in 2017, with fashion retailers likely to go one of two ways:
- Huge flagship stores. Providing an interactive and immersive shopping experience, Flagships are a destination venue in their own right. Flagships also provide a perfect opportunity to showcase a brand; setting out what it represents, who its target audience is, and how it differs from the competition. In 2017, the best flagships will provide something unique. Something that generates that all important wow factor, and a memorable shopping experience.
- Hyper-local, personal boutiques. Offering a more intimate and traditional shopping experience, this approach adds value to products in a way online simply can’t replicate; reawakening what we’ve lost in terms of customer service and interaction. One way retailers are doing this while keeping current is through the pop-up. Indeed, the allure of the pop-up shows no sign of slowing down, as retailers seek to take creative risks and step outside of their typical business model. Even online brands are getting in on the pop-up act.
However, what’s really interesting about these two scales is that there’s nothing to stop retailers adopt both approaches; with more and more brands embracing a flexible approach to format development.
We predict that in store theatre will become increasingly important in 2017 and beyond. Take fast fashion brand Missguided for example. Launched online in 2009, in 2015 Missguided made its first UK move into bricks-and-mortar retail with a concession in Manchester’s Trafford Centre. With further expansion set to come through an aggressive bricks-and-mortar rollout strategy, the retailer’s debut own store has been described by chief executive Nitin Passi as a chance to shake-up a “complacent” high street.
A vibrant store full of energy, retail design agency Dalziel & Pow, (a regular partner of Unibox), has pulled out all the stops on this project. The result is a 20,000 sq. ft. space which boasts a pink monster truck, slogans, paper money falling from the ceiling, half woman-half unicorn mannequins, and assembled digital screens and integrated tech to engage shoppers on and offline. Aware that complacency is unlikely to woo returning customers, Missguided will also be refreshing design and product regularly.
Social media and mobile apps are being used to generate buzz and create a more personalised shopping experience. And, in 2017, more and more fashion retailers will look to converge digital and store.
Retail displays will become increasingly immersive, with Virtual Reality (VR) allowing retailers to interact with their customers like never before. Even traditional in-store signage will benefit from a fresh approach. For example, the Kinetik Video Lightbox - which falls somewhere between a lightbox and a large-format video screen - can be used to promote products in a dynamic fashion to attract consumer attention; without incorporating screens or LCD technology.
This combination of traditional visual merchandising and modern technology is also set to influence how physical stores are set out and designed.
Whatever approach high street fashion brands adopt, they simply must make shoppers love the buying experience; whether that’s through quirky design that makes people smile or integrated tech that appeals to social media obsessed-customers (ideally they need a combination of both). In short, design needs to be at the heart of any retail strategy.
At Unibox, we help our retail customers to create stunning design solutions. But more than this, everything we do is designed, not only to look good, but also to help your business succeed. With unique manufacturing capabilities on site, we’ve brought many intelligent products to the market, including a number of LED lightboxes and Neonist LED signage which are perfect for retail interiors. For a quick chat to find out more about how Unibox does things differently, contact us today.