Trend Accelerator Corona IV: Store Design
Stop-and-go instead of a continuous stream of customers and separate niches instead of market places? What effects on store design has Covid-19? We asked the experts at umdasch. The designers Julia Mitteregger, Maik Drewitz and Peter Prisching provided the answers to our questions.
What effects have current consumer trends had on Store Design?
Julia Mitteregger: In the fashion sector, the integral shopping experience continues to be the main topic.
With regard to the mega-trends, the important driving forces here are above all safety, health and urbanisation – all under the pretext of connectivity and Individualisation.
Following the lockdown, people also have an unbroken longing for experiences. These, however, are decidedly different from the experiences they sought before the pandemic. Everything has to function in spite of the “social distancing”. We have to completely re-interpret, for example, community zones and functional areas such as changing rooms. That can be seen both in the materials which contribute to the hygiene, such as smooth surfaces instead of carpets, and also in the room concepts: lounges which encourage customers to stay for a while are now distributed throughout the entire store instead of being grouped together. What is more, completely new product ranges have become more relevant, and this also affects the store design. Flexibility is important, in order to be able to react quickly to new requirements.
Maik Drewitz: In other lifestyle areas such as Home & Living or Consumer Electronics a unique customer experience is more important than ever before. People are no longer consuming simply for the sake of consumption, but because they want to go out and experience something. This also includes social interaction – on all channels, and both online and offline. It is probably even easier to get a like on Instagram for the newly purchased product than a compliment in the shop. We at umdasch are also bearing these approaches in mind in our store design, in order to create stimuli for consumers which they can experience and which they will want to share with the social media community. In general the rule is: all digital solutions which intensify the experience as well as optimising the process are more popular than ever. In our new innovation hub in Duisburg we are therefore working together side by side with the digital experts at umdasch, in order to create integral experience worlds.
Peter Prisching: In Food Retail we notice two trends which became evident even at the EuroShop 2020 in Düsseldorf in February: the customer experience, in other words the experience in the sales space, and the retail journey, meaning how it is possible to simplify the retailer’s work behind this within the food retail sector. In order to ensure a feeling of “well-being” for the consumer, retailers need to optimise certain processes – both digitally and sustainably. We are currently busy multiplying concepts which adopt precisely this approach.
In future, online and bricks-and-mortar retailing will increasingly be designed as hybrids, for example with pick-up stations and a new type of checkout zone. Not just self-checkout tills, but also the chance to check out using one’s own smartphone directly by the product shelf, will provide approaches towards a convenient shopping experience. Especially in combination with electronic price labelling ESL, the latter will provide numerous advantages for the retailers as well.
Do you approach store design differently since the corona pandemic?
Julia Mitteregger: I now need to focus even more intensively on the tension field of providing a generous amount of space despite the decreasing size of the sales area.The inclusion of the surroundings, such as the space in front of the store, is also becoming increasingly important.The same thing applies to the checkout areas as to the lounge areas: they are increasingly distributed across the entire area. Self-checkout is becoming increasingly important in the fashion sector too. According to Corona, the service concept will become even more important, which will also have a holistic effect on the design: the sales staff in the role of hosts, with perfect advice and individual service. Multi-channel concepts will finally play a major role. The customer can physically experience the goods in the store, feel the materials, have them delivered to his home, try them there in peace and quiet and return them to the store if necessary. Fewer dressing rooms in the store and the savings of large storage areas covered by online shipping will bring a major advantage: even small areas in good locations can become attractive - showroom concepts instead of huge retail outlets.
Are you now putting up those acrylic panels everywhere which for many years were regarded as a taboo in store design?
Maik Drewitz: In many sectors, such as pharmacies, for example, we have little choice – but whenever possible we are integrating the protective screens into the store design. A lot depends on how long we shall have to comply with the strict safety measures, but at the moment it’s often a matter of “grit your teeth and get on with it” with temporary solutions. In the long term I hope that the retail sector will be allowed to experience a little more closeness again.
Will distance markers and hygiene stations be with us for a long time?
Retailers are responsible for consumers within their stores; hygiene solutions when entering and/or leaving the shop are therefore essential. A successive changeover to self-service and pick-up stations is under way, so that safety precautions and distancing can be ensured, but nonetheless personal advice will remain important for the shopping experience – also in food retail.
Subjects like “unpackaged” were highly popular a short while ago – today, however, some consumers prefer the safety of packaged goods. Nonetheless we receive many enquiries about solutions like our Liquid Dispenser, a refilling system for liquid products such as detergents. Systems like this need to be designed in such a way that the hygiene can still be guaranteed: here the tendency is towards machines rather than classic chutes.
In our series “Trend Accelerator Corona” we show you the influence which the developments of recent months will have in the long term on a variety of aspects of the retail sector. In the previous contributions to the series Silvio Kirchmair, CEO umdasch The Store Makers, has already explained the New Normality. Bernd Albl, Managing Director umdasch Digital Retail, spoke about the significance of Digital Retail and Michaela Drage, Engineering Director umdasch The Store Makers provided fascinating insights into the relevance of Sustainability.