Retail & People

How have retail spaces changed?

Time is retail’s new currency. As a retailer, you have to ask yourself the core question how to create such a precious place that customers are willing to spend their restricted leisure time at your store? More and more retailers are looking for the one of a kind experience factors for their stationary retail space and swear on the formula: more experience per square metre – more sales per square metre. That is why we find integrated gastronomy, comfortable lounge areas as well as well-curated assortments in the stores. All efforts are aiming at one goal: To increase the sojourn quality and with it the duration of stay.

What are the preconditions a store should fulfil to create a real experience and what matters most?

I think it goes without saying to equip a store with good light, sound, odour, interior and an exceptional offer of food and drinks. But that alone is not enough: You have to ask yourself “what makes me unique?”. Do I offer a shoe store where people can try on the shoes next to a bronze water well from the 18thcentury? Or are we a store for outdoor gear with a virtual zoo to engage kids while their parents participate in a knowledge class on the topic plastic free lifestyle?

What aspect is supposed to take center stage in this process?

Oftentimes, retailers ignore the essentials when optimising their assortment, retail spaces, services areas, communications and event concept: the people. The heart of every store are the people – the people that visit the store and the people who work there. Only when your employees are brand ambassadors and think of their job as satisfying and fulfilling can they transfer this message to the customers. And only when you know your customers well and understand their wishes and needs can you create relevant added value and experiences for them. By the way, in times of big data, AI and predictive analytics, customers will increasingly expect that retailers know them better than the customers know themselves. Consequently, your offer has to fit with the DNA of your brand, with your employees and the wishes and need of your customers.

What role do the employees play?

In the success formula “more experience per square metre” lies of course high pressure for the employees. As touchpoint between brand and customer, they are essentially involved in your success. The highest risk in optimising your experience factor is in belying your promises of quality of offers and means over time. Topics like gastronomy, events and services are often outside the DNA of a retailer. Here, targeted employee trainings are necessary. The transformation process from a salesman to a retail experience manager has to be sustainably accompanied and managed. Here, retail can learn from the principles of new work. When the transformation succeeds, then the future retail employee is a real multi talent at best. They are hosts, baristas, trainers, coaches, assistants and salesmen all in one.



Volker katschinski

…is an expert in retail design, with a special focus on the connection of online and offline retail. He is co-founder of the dan pearlman brand architecture.