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Re-imagining Retail Spaces for In-Store CX

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

The growth in online retailing and shifts in consumer behaviour are transforming the traditional UK high street. Today, as an increasing number of brands align their in-store and digital services to offer omnichannel shopping, customers expect unique retail experiences both in store and online. As a result, retailers are actively repurposing their floor space to offer those experiences and to attract customers back onto the high street.

An opportunity for reinvention

For retailers agile enough to respond to shifting consumer behaviours, which can effectively deliver the experience-led, omnichannel services customers expect, there are significant opportunities to remain profitable as the high street recovers. What’s more, with 86% of consumers willing to pay more for better experiences[1], the combination of increased pricing with a growth in footfall can help high street retailers overcome competition from low cost online stores and improve customer loyalty.

Indeed, while many brands have disappeared and high streets have shrunk over the last few years, there are clear signals that a renaissance is taking place. Surprisingly, it is not just established high street retailers leading the way but online brands too, like Amazon, which has launched

a new breed of disruptor stores that use technology to offer significant improvements in customer experience.

With queuing to pay the number one pain point for shoppers, Amazon has created stores where checkouts are a thing of the past. Customers simply pick items off the shelf and leave; technology does all the rest with payments made automatically via an App. Several supermarket brands are trialling similar stores and it’s likely to be a common feature of the shopping experience for everyone in the not too distant future.

Experiential temptations

Of course, this kind of shopping experience is not suitable for every company, but there are other aspects of customer experience where brands can make a significant impact. Retailers are increasingly tempting shoppers into their stores by transforming traditional retail spaces into places where they can have enjoyable, engaging and memorable experiences.

Some of the key advantages of having a bricks and mortar store are they allow customers to physically examine products, immerse themselves in the brand and enjoy experiences on a sensual and emotional level. Customers can’t meet an author, be measured for a suit or enjoy a wine tasting session online, but by re-purposing their space, bookshops, fashion outlets and wine merchants can offer those one-to-one experiences in-store.

This shift in approach has led to a growth in the number of UK brands re-purposing space in order to create ‘retailtainment’ stores. London, unsurprisingly, is home to the most high-concept developments. Customers at the Adidas mega-store[2] can ask for different coloured and sized clothing using changing room interfaces. Those at the House of Vans store can enjoy movies, watch music concerts and go skating, while at Dr. Martens in Camden shoppers can experience virtual reality, GIF booths and shoe customisation.

While these are flagship examples, countless other brands are undergoing similar in-store transformations to appeal to today’s experience-driven, tech-savvy consumers. Stores are creating cafes, enhancing click and collect operations and installing innovative technologies to future-proof their retail spaces.

Customers are also being met by 3D meet and greet holograms, using interactive merchandising displays to try on makeup, finding out about products from digital displays and ordering and paying for goods using Apps.

Sustainable futures

Improving sustainability is not only critical for the future of the planet; it is also becoming an economic necessity, with increasing numbers of consumers choosing environmentally friendly brands.

While Sigma is working hard to improve sustainability across its own operations and supply chain, we are equally committed to working with our clients to deliver sustainable CSR for them.

For example, in a recent re-development project for a large major retailer, in which we installed new equipment in 1,300 stores, outgoing fixtures and fittings from across the entire estate were sorted for re-use, refurbishment and recycling. We reduced carbon emissions by 50% by removing old equipment on the same vehicles on which the new installations were delivered, and we even recycled the 8,000 pallets used in the project, saving approximately 2,000 trees.

Partnerships for successful change

Reimagining physical stores to meet consumer expectations and capitalise on experiential opportunities requires both major infrastructure changes and the deployment of advanced technologies. Working in partnership with clients will identify opportunities that bring value to their brand, while our fit-out and redevelopment services deliver projects from planning through to completion. Experienced project managers deliver cost efficiency, manage supplier lead times and the procurement of equipment and ensure reporting timelines and review periods are met.

For retail brands wanting to develop in-store customer experiences, the expert support of a trusted partner like Sigma can be fundamental to success. With over 20 years of experience in transforming commercial spaces, we bring together landlords, brands, contractors, shopfitters and other stakeholders to ensure that complex, innovation-driven transformational programs are deployed seamlessly, on time and cost-effectively across estates.


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