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The Evolution Of Retail At Bisnow’s July 25 National Conference

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HFA Development Design Studio Lead Aksel Solberg

Retailers have been refining their strategies for attracting customers to brick-and-mortar stores by creating a more seamless shopping experience. Their methods include positioning themselves in optimal locations near other retailers and integrating technology, such as augmented reality, to help customers make more informed decisions.

Aksel Solberg, development design studio lead at architecture and engineering firm HFA, said retailers are prioritizing the customer experience so that their time in the store is about more than simply picking up what they need and leaving.

“The retail industry at large is shifting toward the idea that people go to a place to have an experience, rather than just shop,” he said. “Shopping happens as a byproduct of that experience, without being the inspiration behind the visit.”

Solberg will attend Bisnow’s National Retail Conference in New York City on July 25. He will speak on the Developing Retail Around Data, Technology and Consumer Trends panel about how stores can be designed to fit the needs of today’s customers and how in-store technology can work alongside e-commerce.

Click here to buy tickets and register.

In a conversation with Bisnow, Solberg discussed omnichannel retail, the benefits of tenants being in proximity to one another and the importance of brand unification within a space.

Bisnow: What are some of the notable trends in the retail sector?

Solberg: Given the way technology has evolved at this point, stores need to have the capacity for omnichannel order fulfillments. This could involve people placing an order remotely at home and coming in for curbside pickup. It could also be people researching a product, pulling it up on their store app and coming to the store to see and touch it in person. Once they’re finished, they can walk up to the sales associate, scan their app, and they’re out the door, bypassing the need for a point of sale or cash wrap. 

There has also been greater demand for data access points within the store. That includes tablets, monitors and smart screens. 

We’re seeing a lot of stores right now with data access points around the sales floor perimeter, whereas in the past, they would just be found at the point of sale or the checkout counter, because that’s really the only place where you would have had a need for it. 

Many stores also have monitors that will feed real-time information on their stock and their inventory into their mobile platform. Customers can look online and see with relative certainty if a store actually has a product that they’re looking for. 

Bisnow: What are tenants looking for in their retail space?

Solberg: There’s an increasing desire among retailers to have their store located in close proximity to hospitality and entertainment tenants, including restaurants, movie theaters and other creative entertainment venues that are becoming more popular now. 

Retailers have caught on to the fact that if a good shopping center is mixed in its variety of tenants, they stand a better chance of keeping people in the center for a longer period of time, and they’re more likely to visit all or more of the stores than they would have in the past. 

They’re also integrating public amenities in the form of restrooms, mothers rooms, common areas for sitting, lounges and other placemaking amenities where families could spend more time.

Bisnow: What retail designs and layouts appeal most to customers? 

Solberg: Something that’s becoming more common now is textural variety in the store. Instead of having blank white walls, a tile floor and a white ceiling, there has been a renaissance of the idea of unifying brand and image with the interior store concept. This means taking cues from the brand, whether it be colors, font types, textures or other aspects that make up what customers think of when they think of a brand. 

It’s all about competing with online shopping. A store needs to not just be convenient, it needs to be exciting and welcoming. It needs to be a place where people have a sense of connection that 20 or 30 years ago we wouldn’t have thought about. At that time, online shopping wasn’t there to serve as a very convenient way for people to get their merchandise. 

Bisnow: How does HFA work with retail businesses throughout the construction and design process?

Solberg: We partner with every client on a unique level that’s tailored to them. That approach changes depending on when we are integrated into the process. 

If we’re involved earlier on, then we start by integrating ourselves with a client’s brand team. We learn everything about their brand, who they want to be in the long term and how they want to be seen. We learn everything we can about the people that are shopping there, their target demographics and what they want the experience to be. All of this gives us a well-informed lens that we can then use to assemble schematic and conceptual design options for their review. 

If we’re being brought on board in just the construction documents process, we integrate ourselves into the construction and operations side of that client’s program. We develop a very intimate knowledge of how that…

Read More: The Evolution Of Retail At Bisnow’s July 25 National Conference

2024-06-20 20:34:39

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