It’s no secret that today’s successful retail brands have evolved; and that evolution has a lot to do with consumer’s definition of convenience. From the earliest examples of bazaars and town squares, to super stores and malls, to today’s two-day shipping and online order pick up, the retail industry has changed based on the consumer’s perception of how conveniently products get into their hands and the quality of service they receive.
Henderson Engineers has been a trusted partner of some of the biggest names in retail for more than 40 years. Through those relationships, we have seen firsthand how the internet changed the way people shopped and connected with retail brands. Online shopping opened new ways for retailers to reach customers. It became the new expectation of convenience and in turn, drove the industry’s most recent transformation.
Understanding the convenience paradigm
The bazaars of old were the beginning of retail. Customers would travel to bazaars, because they could purchase multiple types of goods in one place. It was convenient. Over time in America, this same principle became the town square. Innovation happened, and the products were brought into a single store, the “super” store. This became the customer’s new definition of convenience. However, all of these examples were limited by the location of the point-of-sale and the technology of the time.
Today, because of the internet and social media, the most successful brands have an omnichannel strategy that links them to their customers in any way possible. Customers not only have a variety of methods to shop, but they can also choose the means of delivery that best suits them. This technology-based evolution has made consumers that are more aware and connected, which is compelling retailers to better define who they are. Now more than ever, brand and customer service are what ties people to a retailer. The customer’s perception of convenience has moved beyond where goods are sold because the purchase can be made anytime, anyplace, and acquired based on preference.
Transitioning to brand connection
As retail evolves and brands vie for customer connection, they are creating experiences at physical locations that bond customers to their brand. Unparalleled customer service and interactive displays immerse customers in a complete brand experience. We’ve seen an increased amount of “flagship” stores being added to retailer fleets. These showcases of the retailer’s brand are the perfect place to authentically connect with customers. Many of these stores incorporate cafés and coffee shops that entice people to visit, even if they’re not specifically shopping for items in the store. Further connecting customers with the brand.
Other retailers are moving away from keeping massive inventory on site. Omnichannel purchase and delivery methods, as well as increased data analytics, are allowing retailers to make smart choices on sales floor inventory. This equates to stores with a smaller footprint and the ability to venture into more diverse physical spaces including the urban core. Ultimately moving them closer to customers and creating a favorable brand connection.
Designing spaces to support continuing change
This new definition of convenience is driving retailers to examine their brick and mortar locations. Some brands fall into a delivery category, they house multiple brands and have previously been successful based on their ease of connecting products and customers. Offering two-day shipping and drive-thru pick up keeps them competitive, but it changes the demand of their space. Many of these retailers are not only reconsidering store layouts, but also processes and staffing. Others fall into a product category, they are the product and the experience. Some are digitally native and have never had a storefront before but are now building spaces for customers to experience their brand. From specialized lighting to interactive displays; everything in the room connects people to their identity.
Because the goals of the space have changed, the aspects of the space have changed. It’s not only affecting location and quantity but the layout and types of facilities. Companies who specialize in delivery are looking more to warehouses and pick-up stations. If they already have a vast physical footprint, they are relocating refrigeration and shelving to accommodate these needs and make the most of existing infrastructure.
At Henderson we’re not just engineers, we are customers too; and we’re passionate about the brands we work with. Understanding how retail spaces interact with people allows us to help our clients reach their full potential in creating an innovative customer experience. We engineer the climate, illumination, power, and even the technology of the space. Our subsidiary, Henderson Building Solutions, helps clients manage their building system performance through building commissioning and monitoring so that they get the most out of their investment in the physical space. Together, we’re embracing the evolution of the retail industry and helping clients maximize their physical spaces.
If you have questions about your retail space, you can conveniently connect with us here.