The world of retail is ever changing. As consumers, we have evolved from catalogs and department stores, to malls and power centers, and now, e-commerce. The one constant that remains essential is to create an environment where customers will have a memorable experience, accomplish this and you will have a successful business that will be sustainable.
Customers visit physical retail stores for one of three reasons: price, convenience, or the environment. With buying power of the discount stores in regards to price, and the strength of e-commerce in respect to convenience, retailers must focus on creating a great environment. What does that mean? It means designing retail spaces that are constantly evolving generating a memorable experience. The “Eastern Market Experience” located in the Detroit McNamara Terminal epitomizes this shift in thinking. Transforming the “norm” of the gate hold area from the mundane standard rows of in-line seating near each gate, to free flowing interactive areas encompassing nine gates consisting of bars, restaurants, and gaming (both electronic and physical) not only energized each passenger’s experience, but also drove sales up substantially.
Retailers today must remain nimble and pliable adapting to the ever changing needs of the consumers. Few retailers have embraced this philosophy more than CVS Health. Their ability to adapt and change from a traditional pharmacy to a health hub introducing new services such as wellness studios, diagnostic clinics, and yoga rooms, helps sets them apart from their competitors. From a design standpoint, incorporating more natural light with vibrant finishes and a more open inviting footprint have not only driven customer appeal and foot traffic, but also has allowed them to intertwine with their other entities: Caremark, Aetna and Omnicare among many others.
Omni-channel retailing that combines digital and in-store experience will continue to be the future. That being said, the value of the physical environment cannot be replaced and will remain extremely important for the survival of physical retail, even more so then ever before.