Metallaxis on Design: The future of retail store design.

Retail stores need to utilise tech to transform their relationship with their customers!

Covid-19 taught us many lessons. One of those lessons was that online shopping is possible and it can be super-easy and efficient. But although many of us took advantage of e-commerce during covid-19, not all of us are ready to turn our backs to physical stores. In fact, around 73% of us still value the in-store “experience”.

Before we dive in, what has your experience been? Comment below.

Although it is true that we’re not ready to pull the plug on physical stores yet, it’s not a secret that we have grown accustomed to the ease and convenience of online shopping. In fact, we’re already seeing people going to stores… only to pick up their online orders.

What does that say about the value that stores offer? To us, it is an obvious answer… something needs to change!

Between covid-19, the experience-economy trend, and a generation of customers who score low on brand loyalty, retail needs to come up with innovative solutions. These solutions should aim to move retail away from the traditional store and offer additional value through the physical shopping experience. Physical stores need to act as media, to create a story that engages and captivates the customers, leaving them wanting more. And don’t take our word for it. Research has already shown that customers are 2.5 times more likely to revisit a store, both on & offline, if they have visited an experiential flagship store.

So what can we do to enhance store experience? In two words: technology integration.

  1. QR codes and a point of digital connection.
    QR codes are currently used as ‘lazy’ solution for integrating tech in the store. But, if used correctly, they can offer the benefit of connecting with the customer on multiple levels. Take smart-cities for example. They use QR codes to link to audio-recordings that explain the history of the location and offer cultural value. Could retail stores use QR codes to link to a Spotify playlist? A questionnaire that will take customers to the right store point depending on their style and preferences? Could they have different QR codes for each item linking to posts of all people who have posted a picture wearing the product… thus making their customers their models?
  2. Artificial Reality.
    So many people prefer the in-store experience… but not for the experience. But because sizing lacks clarity online. Yet still, for anyone who has shopped in real life, waiting in line to try out something is a pain-point. So could retail stores add AR mirrors that analyse your body shape and, based on it linking you to a ‘digital twin’ (i.e. a previous customer with a similar body type who was satisfied with the purchase), help you find the perfect size?
  3. Easy check out.
    You heard right. PoS is not considered an ‘easy checkout’ option anymore. Nor are ‘do-it-yourself’ check-out areas. Amazon changed the game with their ‘Just Walk Out’ tech. In case you haven’t heard of that, customers at Amazon Grocery can now enter the store, add products to their bag and just walk out without paying anywhere. Here’s how it works: Shoppers open their app which generates a QR code on their phone. They scan the code before entering, take what they need from the shelves and, after scanning their phones again, just walk out. Moments later, you have the bill on your e-mail with the list of items that you picked out.
  4. Games.
    Experience is not only about ease. It’s also about FUN. Nike knows that, which is why there gamifying the physical experience with immersive tech.

So many solutions and, by tapping into the unlimited power of creativity, retail stores can create unique experience that entice their customers and offer valuable, fun and rich in-store experiences!

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