In-person retail space has evolved from being a mainly functional area, where customers selected and paid for goods, to a more recreational experience. In the age where almost anything can be bought with a couple of clicks and delivered the next day, consumers need a real reason to go a visit a bricks and mortar shop.
As with any enjoyable experience now, many people like to share what they are getting up to with their friends and followers on social media. Retailers have not been slow to see the potential in this: if a customer takes a picture in their store and shares it online, they are benefiting from word-of-mouth advertising which costs them nothing.
To encourage store visitors to keep posting those images, it is of course necessary to have a well-designed and attractive space, combined with good standards of customer service. It is just as easy to publicise negative experiences as great ones, and the stakes are high among the luxury to mid-range brands to keep up appearances.
In-store design is reaching new heights of innovation and elegance, in a bid to win those Instagram likes, Retail Gazette reports. Some designers are making stores feel like a more glamorous version of our homes, while others are opting for quirkier or more industrial designs in the hope of catching the eye of browsing internet users.
Of course, all this effort is not just aimed at the average customer; many brands now ‘influencers’, who are paid to promote their content on social media. However, loyal and engaged social media audiences cannot just be bought, as in the end clicks and likes need to be converted into sales.
The influencer must be trusted by their audience, and ultimately, the quality of the places and products that they recommend still need to speak for themselves.
So, with this in mind, what are the cutting edge stores actually doing at the moment? Here’s a look at a couple of great examples!
High-end fashion brand Balenciaga have recently opened a flagship store on New Bond Street in central London. They have very much taken the industrial concept and run with it, creating an uncompromising aesthetic that certainly challenges our ideas about what a traditional retail space should look like.
Featuring exposed pipework, expanses of distressed concrete, and almost devoid of soft furnishes, the tough interior contrasts dramatically with its luxurious offerings. It’s certainly proved a talking point on social media, and draws strong opinions, which in 2022 is certainly a way of standing out in the saturated consumer market.
At the other end of the scale, Flannels of Oxford Street have dialled up the glam, with luxury Persian rugs, marble flooring, bright colours, and bold prints. The exterior of the building meanwhile is a permanent art installation, with a three-storey digital wall which display works by a rotating line-up of artists.
Meanwhile, the second floor of the building is a devoted art and culture space, with regular DJ nights.
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