The development of technology causes consistent changes within all businesses sectors, occasionally prompting a sudden and significant reform. Within the retail sector, this remains especially true. Over the past few years, numerous advances have been made, many of which have entirely changed the way we think about the high street, and with many more changes on the horizon.
What is particularly fascinating about these developments is not only the ways in which it changes the fundamental transactions of retail, the exchange of money and goods, but also the way in which is it redesigning the shop experience, including a number of changes that may surprise customers who haven’t realised something is different.
Fewer Products On Shelves
High street stores are no longer spaces complete with all catalogue items, ensuring that every customer finds what they need, but are instead becoming brand-oriented and experiential spaces, a shift largely prompted by technology.
In presence of eCommerce, it is no longer viable for high street retailers to compete with the efficiency or abundance of online sales. However, stores have now taken to offer brand impressions, cultivating spaces with ‘hero’ products and in-store events that allow customers to experience something they cannot via the internet.
The Disappearing Check-out
The check-out has, perhaps more than any other area of retail, been the target of technology. Self-service is being widely adopted while others are moving toward cashless check-out options. Storefronts can now open up with only a mobile phone or tablet device, eliminating the need for cumbersome till systems and, with it, large check-out areas.
Stores are now having the option to choose between dedicated check-out areas, those that require counter spaces, or modular and compact check-out systems that require little space at all, often being kept upon a staff member’s person. Guess which is generally preferred?
With the ease and abundance of social media, namely geotagging and photosharing, stores have become increasingly stylised. Since having an appealing interior, one that encourages photography, can lead to a store’s location and products being shared online, a number of stores are now seeking to redesign their shop spaces to better encourage what is sometimes referred to as ‘passive advertising’.
Bespoke slatwall panels, statement wallpapers, immersive displays, and interactive products are all key, and increasingly ubiquitous, features of modern retail spaces. Businesses want customers to spend time sharing their experiences and designs, which some believe is more valuable than dedicated product shelf space.
Visual technologies are developing quickly, with large displays becoming more affordable than ever. As such, stores are beginning to replace their traditional posters and banners, placing in-store campaigns and branding upon digital displays. These displays are eye-catching, bold, and, most importantly, cost-effective.
No longer must paper-based promotions be printed and delivered to then be disposed of at the end of a campaign. Instead, displays can quickly be amended or changed, even to accommodate different demographics, such as those that might shop at different times of the day.