Between Brexit and a global pandemic, the retail sector has been hit hard in the last year. COVID-19 has demanded the closures of stores across the UK, but the recent government roadmap for easing restrictions has provided a light at the end of the tunnel.
Non-essential retail stores can prepare to re-open from April 12th 2021. In light of the huge events we’ve seen, what are the retail store design trends we’ll see this year?
Read on for our take on the latest retail design trends stores should adopt to engage with customers and grow their brands offline.
1. Emphasis on ethics and transparency
One of the most important retail design trends of 2021 will centre around brand transparency of ethical issues. Environmental sustainability is a growing priority for many shoppers. The pandemic has also sparked new emphasis on social responsibility and community – in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, brands are under the spotlight.
Consequently, customers are focusing more than ever on businesses’ ethical practices and core values.
A global survey conducted by Accenture revealed that ‘more than half of customers in the UK want companies to take a stand on issues they care about, such as sustainability, transparency and fair employment practices’. In fact, 37% would walk away from a business that didn’t align with their beliefs.
To attract and retain a loyal customer base in 2021 and beyond, businesses will need to prioritise ethics and transparency with the public.
In a physical store, retailers can do this by demonstrating care to their staff members and building a community-feel with customers. They can also promote their ethics via brand storytelling, utilising store visuals and brand merchandise. Take inspiration from brands such as Lush and Patagonia, who have amassed cult followings largely from their values-based approach to business.
2. Online stores having an offline presence
Another significant retail store design trend going nowhere in 2021 is digitally native brands building their offline presence. Shopping online may be convenient, but customers still value in-store interactions. Research shows that 82% of millennials still prefer in-store shopping over purchasing online.
This is the case particularly with products such as makeup or clothing, where there is a try-before-you-by preference. Just one notable example of this is Glossier. The cosmetics brand saw huge success in its Covent Garden pop-up shop and made it a permanent fixture in February 2020.
Despite a challenging year for the high street, it is predicted that in 2021, there will continue to be a rise in previously online-only retailers opening brick-and-mortar stores.
3. Rise in experiential retail
As covered in detail in our blog: what is the future of retail stores? one of the biggest retail design trends we’ll see in 2021 and beyond is brands creating unique shopping experiences.
To differentiate themselves from their competitors on the high street and compete with e-commerce, retailers must create an experience that draws customers in and keeps them coming back.
The aim here isn’t necessarily to drive sales but to build a strong brand following and customer engagement in a way that can’t be achieved online. Coined ‘retailtainment’, this emphasis on experiential retail will be the future of the high street.
4. Increase in technology
To compete with the online shopping market, in-store retailers must keep tech-savvy. This has been one of the biggest retail store design trends in recent years that will continue to be important throughout 2021.
Convenience is critical for in-store retailers. And technology is one of the best ways to make in-store interactions as streamlined as possible.
Businesses are utilising technology in many different ways to compete with online shopping. In China, some stores allow customers to scan an item via a QR scanner to find all the information they require about the product. Another good example is Specsavers’ Frame Styler image software tool. Used in-store with a tablet, it creates a 3D model of a customer’s face and allows them to try on multiple pairs of glasses that best suit their face.
Think maximum convenience, minimum effort. We will only see more of this in the future, and businesses will have to keep up to compete.
5. Creation of comfortable retail spaces
Another retail design trend we’ll see in 2021 is a move towards creating comfortable and welcoming in-store settings. When the nation comes out of lockdown, customers will want to shop in an environment that feels safe and comfortable – homely almost.
The theory is that customers will be more likely to return to stores that create this atmosphere. We’ve seen many brands implement this style in recent years. But in a post-lockdown landscape, this is set to become one of the biggest retail design trends of 2021.
There are lots of ways you can implement this in-store. Updating your decor is one of the easiest things you can do to heighten a homely feel. Some larger brands go one step further by collaborating with coffee chains so shoppers can sip while they shop.
While this is a challenging time for retailers, there is a lot of hope for the highstreet. For businesses to grow their offline presence and build a loyal customer base, they will have to adapt to change. The best way to ensure your business is prepared for the end of lockdown is to implement these retail design trends and reap the benefits.
Here at Displaysense, you can find many different display and merchandising systems to spruce up your store. We also have a wide range of social distancing and hygiene products to ensure staff and customers are safe and protected.