The High Street is Dead. Long Live the High Street

12 Top Tips to Future-proof Retail Portfolios

The future of retail. Wondering what it will look like? Spoiler alert. It’s already here.

The high street is undergoing a pivotal overturn – and shoppers are here for it. Literally. While e-commerce grew during the pandemic, data has shown that in-person shopping is on the rise once more. But much like the evolution of working patterns, the retail landscape is adopting a hybrid approach. We’re going to go right ahead and call it ‘blended shopping’.

Shoppers are no longer putting all of their eggs in one basket (see what we did there?) with a more visible interplay between online and in-store shopping as the line between brick and mortar and e-commerce blurs. Think boutiques offering exclusive in-store events to VIP online shoppers, or pop-up shops seamlessly transitioning from physical to virtual experiences. It’s all about creating a cohesive brand experience that meets customers where they are – whether they’re browsing on their phone or stepping into a store.

If you are a retailer, you might be thinking you don’t have enough space to make your store more experiential and appealing to shoppers. But what if we were to tell you that you don’t actually need any additional space?

It’s not about expanding your footprint; it’s about optimising what you already have. By partnering with a professional retail space planner, you can unlock the full potential of your existing floor space. This investment in strategic design will not only prove cost-effective but also yield significant returns. We guarantee it.

So, how to reimagine store design to align with these evolving customer preferences? Here are 12 ways our teams have been helping clients to stay ahead of the game:

Food Markets, Bars, and Coffee Shops: Have you ever tried shopping when you’re tired and hungry? It’s nearly impossible. All you want to do is leave and find a café to relax in. By integrating food and beverage offerings within your retail space, you can bring the caffeine to tired shoppers instead of losing them mid-shop. F&B offerings within retail spaces create a social atmosphere, encouraging your customers to meet with friends and linger longer, increasing dwell time and driving additional sales.

Self-care Concessions: Partnering with beauty, hair, or nail salons to offer on-site self-care services provides customers with a one-stop destination for their needs. By reconfiguring your space to incorporate a small area to sublet as a concession, you effectively double down on marketing efforts, diversify your offer, generate additional footfall and encourage customers to spend more time – and money – in your store.

Retailtainment: Designing in a space to host live music, creative workshops, and interactive entertainment activities adds value to the shopping experience, creating memorable moments for customers and increasing foot traffic.

Gaming, Sports, and Activities: Offering recreational activities like interactive gaming zones, sports simulators, or fitness classes appeals to a broad audience and encourages repeat visits. This not only makes your store more dynamic but also draws in different customer segments who might not otherwise have visited.

Customer Lounge Areas: Merge physical and digital touchpoints for a blended shopping experience. Create a lounge area which incorporates touchscreens and tech, enabling browsing, favouriting and impulse purchases of your products. You could also consider a photo booth that customers can use to share photos on socials, encouraging free promotion of your brand.

Education and Learning Areas: Zoning an area to host workshops, classes, or educational seminars related to the products or services sold in your store will position your brand as an authority in the industry and strengthen customer loyalty.

Co-working and Serviced Office Areas: Integrating flexible workspaces within unused space attracts remote workers and professionals, increasing foot traffic and enabling customers to work and shop seamlessly. It also creates a sense of activity, keeping your store feeling busy and vibrant.

Virtual and Augmented Reality: Whether you integrate virtual changing rooms, showrooms with interactive store navigation or AR treasure hunts, leveraging immersive technologies enhances your customer engagement and creates unique, memorable experiences that differentiate your retail space from competitors.

Ghost Kitchens: Also referred to as a ‘dark kitchen’ or ‘cloud kitchen’, this new concept is a virtual restaurant which operates as a digital storefront, available only on food delivery apps. Many food retailers are boosting profits by repurposing their under-utilised space as ghost kitchens for preparation of food for delivery.

Logistics or Data Centres: Diversifying revenue streams by utilising unused space for additional services like logistics, data or micro-fulfilment centres can be a great way to make more out of your retail space (particularly any unused back of house areas).

Self-Serve Shopping and Vending Machines: Consider quick and easy access to products out of hours through self-serve options. Providing vending machines or self-service kiosks for on-the-go purchases increases convenience for customers and drives additional sales.

Offloading Car Park Spaces: Utilising unused parking spaces for outdoor marketplaces, food courts, bike rentals and repair stations, car wash services, parcel locker systems and EV charging stations creates additional revenue streams and brings a new customer to your retail destination.

The role of the physical retail space is evolving. No longer is it enough to simply sell products. Successful retailers are employing experts to reimagine their stores as vibrant hubs of activity that offer something beyond mere transactions, curating immersive environments that engage and excite shoppers – all whilst boosting their bottom line.

Forward-thinking retailers are rewriting the rulebook on maximising their retail real estate.

Because, simply put, they can’t afford not to.

Date Published: 18 June 2024
Related content: Sector

DB3 Retail

DB3 Retail

Our retail architects deliver a total design service solution from single, bespoke shops to out-of-town retail parks and supermarket rollout programmes.

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