VECS Group, LLC
Five Reasons Why Retail is a Good Bet for Architects & Engineers
With what many call the “retail apocalypse” still underway in the United States, it may seem odd that we are talking about Retail being a smart industry to focus on in 2019 and beyond.
It’s no secret that hundreds of thousands of square feet have been vacated, major brands continue to close stores and several household names like Toys r Us and Sears have declared bankruptcy.
However, there are many trends in the industry that the strong players will recognize and use to their advantage to build their brands and guarantee their existence long into the future.
These trends make focusing on retail a strong strategy for creative architects and engineers willing to help design the stores of tomorrow.
Reference: Retailers Closing Stores in 2019
Research shows that over half of the shoppers of the future, namely the generation we call millennials, those that were 22 to 38 years old in 2018, are willing to spend more on experiences than material things.
So, what does that mean for traditional brick and mortar stores? They must re-think the in-store experience. It’s not just about designing a store that leads to a purchase, it’s about designing a store that leads to engagement. The goal is to create meaningful interaction between the consumer and the brand, activity that leaves the consumer feeling good about him or herself and his or her relationship with the brand.
Some examples of this include fitness classes inside stores like REI, arts & crafts classes offered by Michaels, cooking experiences in Wholefoods and stylings in Ulta. Another great example is the pop-up studio or showroom developed by Samsung where IOT products are on display so consumers can learn how to interact with them and see how they work, but not available for purchase.
Reference: Understanding the Research on Millennial Shopping Behaviors
Multi-channel is a must
It’s not enough any more for a brand to sell its products online and in-store. They must be accessible and active in multiple if not all (omni) channels where their consumers can be found.
This includes social media giants like Facebook and trending channels like Instagram and Snapchat. It also includes traditional marketing channels like email and mobile platforms like apps and SMS and emerging channels like IOT (the internet of things) and virtual reality.
The challenge facing brands who also have brick and mortar stores and rely on their brick and mortar sites to support the consumer experience is how to integrate those channels to enhance customer engagement and loyalty and it’s up to our community to help them design the stores of the future.
More of more of the U.S. population is gravitating to urban areas with the trend only expected to rise in coming years. Smaller offices and co-working environments are an emerging trend too with employees on Main Street looking for amenities walking distance from their desks. The “Big Box” stores once so popular in the United States are shrinking their footprints and vacating space at alarming rates while downsizing to new store formats.
Again, this trend requires creative planning and out of the box (no pun intended) thinking from architects and engineers tasked with supporting the needs of the modern retailer while creating the optimal consumer experience – all in less space than before!
Reference: Small Format Stores and Rising Rents are Reshaping Urban Retail
Another important trend is the expectation consumers have for a completely seamless shopping experience and brand experience between mobile apps, websites, social channels, marketplaces and physical stores.
This can mean anything from integrating the use of a mobile app with the in-store experience such as Starbucks on the go ordering to the ability for a consumer to see and touch a product in store and instead of the desired action being a purchase at the register, they are encourage to place the order for next day delivery.
Thanks to Amazon prime two-day shipping is a common expectation and more and more consumers are looking for same-day shipping or an afternoon in store pick-up of orders placed at lunch via their mobile phone.
Clearly this has huge ramifications for brands who now need to convert their retail locations to mini fulfillment centers and re-think the best way to optimize their square footage.
The Bottom Line
It’s clear to us at Verified Existing Conditions that while the size and scope of brick and mortar locations may be changing, the need for carefully thought out and designed retail sites is rising.
Architects and engineers and commercial real estate developers who understand these trends will develop retail locations that are embraced by the community and the brands of the future and become the stores of tomorrow.
If you are one of these forward thinking individuals and you need help documenting existing conditions so you know where you are starting, contact us and we’ll be happy to take that work off your plate so you can roll up your sleeves and focus on your strategy and the more creative aspects of your job.