Build it and they will come.
Will they?

Long gone are the days of simply stocking shelves with product and slapping up a sign on your shopfront in the hope of customers flocking in.  The old thinking of build it and they will come has well and truly transpired. With retailers fighting against online competitors and technology playing a part in how we now shop, it was interesting to learn that

Bricks and mortar shopping are increasingly becoming more about experience than wall-to-wall of products.  We aren’t suggesting that retailers should dramatically reduce their product offering however a need to provide a unique customer experience is crucial in this current climate.

With that being said, we decided to put together our pick of top retailers that we believe are building environments that focus on exceptional experiences.


A pop-up store with no product! Seriously? Yes seriously. Lego Wear has launched a new boutique pop-up store in London were the store exists virtually.  Customers are greeted by an empty space with a simple plinth showcasing a Snapcode.  Once the code is scanned with the Snapchat app a virtual shopping experience is revealed.  Inside the virtual store you can shop and make purchases as well as listen to a DJ and play arcade games. Don’t forget the virtual security person patrolling the virtual doors.

Image courtesy of We Are Social


While technology doesn’t play a huge role in their built environments it’s their personalised customer interaction that caught our eye.  Without a doubt Aesop is known for delivering inspiring and eye-catching interiors around the globe however it’s their attention to detail that stands out in our mind. Filtered mint and lemon water offered in a handcrafted ceramic cup, tailored skin care assistance, scented gift wrapping, and complementary samples all added to what we perceive as great human interaction in retailing.

Image courtesy of Design Bloom


The golden arches are always upping their game and recent years have seen this QSR landing what we believe is the perfect combination of experience and technology in the fast food arena.  They have worked hard to move away from the traditional “cookie cutter” design approach and have adopted a model that sees individual stores expand on their base interior palette with site specific demographics informing their design directions.

Customers are now given the option of self-service which allows them not only to order from an LCD screen but also custom design their own burgers with table service to top it off – a perfect blend of technology and human interaction. Their drive through sites have always provided parents with a much-needed kids playground and as one of our staff recently remarked “and their coffee is actually pretty good!”

Image courtesy of Juicy Design


Designed by one of our favourite international agencies, Dalziel & Pow, beauty brand Etude House has opened a flagship store in Seoul called House of Colour Play.  The centre of the space makes home to a custom lipstick bar called My Lips Bar where the latest beauty technology is employed to mix a personalised shade that is made instore in 30 minutes. Customisation doesn’t end there! Customers can then select their favourite case and have personalised engraving ensuring that the consumers leave with a truly memorable item.

Image courtesy of Retail Design Blog


Imagine leaving a store with all your shopping in toe with no queues or checkouts in sight? In 2018 Amazon Go did just this.  Their first store located in Seattle, US, blends convenience with technology allowing customers to shop without having to touch their wallet. Upon entering the store using an app, customer pick their products and just walk out!  The store design and strategy didn’t happen overnight.  Four years of development which included Amazon employees as test dummies was required to ensure smooth sailing for this retailer.   By the end of 2018 there were 10 stores in the US, with expansion plans in London expected in the coming years.

Image courtesy of Cnet

Author Alexandra Morris

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