Plugged-in Retailers

Retailers need to look beyond the sale.

Brick and Mortar Retailers Are Raising Their Plugged-in Game for REI’s flagship store in Washington, D.C., CallisonRTKL designed the bicycle shop to achieve the look, feel, and layout of a test kitchen. The outdoor retail cooperative was the first tenant in the redeveloped Uline Arena.

E-commerce is reshaping the landscape for traditional retailers. Store closures and consolidations in 2017 are on pace to eclipse the total number of stores that failed in 2008, in the depths of the Great Recession. Just two months ago, Credit Suisse forecasted that 20-25% of malls will close by 2022.

Eric Lagerberg, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, EVP and Global Practice Group Leader, Retail Stores at CallisonRTKL, says, “In five years, it is likely that most, if not all, of the most recognized brands will have undergone a marked transformation in how they conduct business, capture consumers’ loyalties, and sell their products. From the mechanics of the transaction and the supply chain behind it to the physical environment and experience within it, nothing will be as it currently is.”

This market volatility is compelling retailers to replace traditional merchandising and marketing approaches with strategies that enable the store environment to engage with customers in ways online retailers can’t.

“Savvy retailers are using in-store programming to create opportunities for education, community connection, and other activation strategies as a means to get customers to connect with the brand,” says Aaron Birney, LEED AP, Firmwide Retail Practice Area Leader with Gensler.

NYX Cosmetics equips its headquarters office and retail stores with studio environments to activate trend-savvy customers. “By hosting events and seminars by well-known cosmetics artists and industry video bloggers, they have created an amazing following with younger, more progressive users,” says Birney.

Technology is enabling retailers to create hands-on experiences that can only take place in a physical store environment. New Balance features an interactive demonstration and shoe-making assembly area in its flagship Boston store, designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects. At the retailer’s NB1 Customization Bars, customers can review color and material swatches and use iPads to design their own shoes, then watch them being made right in front of them. “This immersive experience seamlessly integrates a technology-driven digital experience with a tried-and-true, hands-on shopping experience,” says Greg Skalaski, Vice President, Retail, Shawmut Design and Construction.

Even e-commerce retailers are experimenting with physical environments. Amazon has opened a handful of bookstores in major cities and is toying with grocery and convenience store formats, as well as pop-up stores and kiosks at shopping malls.

Credit Building Design + Construction

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