Sheridan&Co announced last week that they will be offering a ‘Reset to Reopen’ strategic offering for brands as the time comes to safely reopen stores.
The strategic led global design agency’s announcement follows the decision by governments across Europe to slowly reopen stores and head towards a new normality for consumers. In France, stores have started to reopen Monday 18th May, with countries like Italy and Spain also relaxing measures to enable consumers to start entering stores again. As the UK starts to explore the same path to reopening retail on June 15th, hygiene, controlling traffic, product testing and experience are at the forefront of retail designer’s minds.
‘Whilst brands have pivoted quickly and catered to consumer demand online, the unique part to retail spaces is that they are physical. This was true before Covid and remains true as we begin our next chapter in life post lockdown’ says Freddie Sheridan, Global Director at Sheridan&Co. Redefining the retail space, whilst celebrating its uniqueness will be key as we move forward. The strategic led design agency shares insights on how retail can disrupt as they reset to reopen the physical space.
Michael Sheridan, Founder and Chairman comments ‘‘‘Reset to Reopen’ illustrates that we are entering a new period for retail. We can take our previous experience as designers from what stores were like before covid-19 and combine these insights with the lessons we have learned from lockdown. Many people have had time to reassess what is important to them, and the lives they want to create for themselves as we emerge from this crisis. It is therefore important that brands, and retail experiences aid consumers on this journey, offering reassurance that it is safe to shop, but shopping is an enjoyable experience despite the safety restrictions put in place. We are designing for a new era of retail”.
As part of Sheridan&Co’s ‘Reset to Reopen’ series, Sheridan&Co will be exploring various touchpoints and strategies for brands to consider when opening their store experience. The design agency summarises how they will supporting brands on their journey to reset to reopen their retail stores:
Create bookable brand spaces
From beauty to fashion, having bookable brand spaces encourages consumers to feel at ease when engaging with a brand, whilst also enabling brands to monitor traffic within the store. Offering a booktable space and appointments enables brands to trade on the USP of physical space, and gives an opportunity to enrich relationships with consumers and offer tailor-made services to people who have made an appointment. This tactic also gives the opportunity to transform previous store experiences in the past that have been mundane and unexciting, to something new and enables a deeper connection between brands and consumers.
Have fewer touchpoints, but more originality
Retail is fundamentally about experience. Whilst previously, stores could cram their spaces with different activations to provide exploration and experimentation, journeys must work to enable more space and fewer visitors. Simplicity will be a great design direction for retail experiences, however, it is important to make each touchpoint count and leave a lasting impression.
Design mood-boosting spaces
Consumers seeking comfort and brands’ wellbeing strategies have been hugely influential during the last 12-16 weeks. Understanding the emotional context of consumers’ lives will be paramount to how we move forward. Examples include biophilia-boosted design and explorations of nature in order to give great psychological benefits to consumers. In addition to this, the ambience of a retail experience can be changed due to the power of colour. Brands can do well by exploring colour psychology and the emotional benefits of certain hues in order to provide retail spaces that uplift consumers.
Develop quarantine product testing
Anxiety surrounding hygiene amongst consumers is widespread – most notably at the start of April when 87% of the British population expressed fear surrounding return to ‘normal’ and a desire for the lockdown to stay further in place. When resetting the store to open again, the main priority for physical spaces will be to offer safe environments for consumers to shop.
In order to ensure a safe spacing amongst consumers and hygienic product testing, Milan’s Rinascente department store, consumer traffic is monitored by security via an app and all clothes tried on will be subject to quarantine. The same tactics are being utilised by their European neighbour France, where luxury brands like Hermes are placing handbags into quarantine. Whilst placing products into quarantine is a new part of the consumer journey, it invites us to reimagine product discovery for consumers.
Offer Contactless retail
In previous retail strategies, we would encourage ‘touch and play’ self discovery testing moments. Now, we are entering a landscape where retail will need to be a zero-touch destination. Technology can play a great role here, where scanning your phone screen against another touchscreen can enable greater product discovery that is unassisted. One example is Swedish brand Clas Ohlson that partnered with Ombori Apps to enable consumers to have control of content on an interactive and motion-sensitive window display through the power of their phone. The control is powered by the consumer scanning their QR code.
However, contactless is only part of the solution when it comes to reopening stores. Whilst it puts brands in good stead to practice safety measures, brands need to avoid the trap of becoming a physical replication of an online experience. It is imperative that we design spaces that offer differentiation to ecommerce. We need to remember that personalised services with consultants and the manipulation of space, sound, colour and curation of a physical space all have key parts to play in terms of making a sensory and memorable store experience.