Exposing our latest in-store thinking

Every May at the exhibition halls of London’s Olympia, there’s a retail buzz about the place. It’s when important players in the retail design business converge for the Retail Design Expo (RDE), Europe’s leading retail event.

RDE is a celebration of what’s happening now. It allows retailers, brands and agencies to showcase their innovative new ideas, creative thinking and technology in retail design and marketing solutions.

This year’s hot topic: in-store transformations

Another of the event’s highlights is its line-up of keynote speeches from respected leaders in retail and branding. Giving their unique insights into the hot topics of the day, one of the topics on this year’s agenda is retail transformation in-store.

The surge of online shopping habits has made bricks and mortar stores raise their game in a big way. Today’s more image-savvy multi-channel shopper needs added impetus to get off their sofa and shop. As we know retailers are shifting towards more experience-based environments and off the back of this we are seeing the rise of brand-owned zones within stores, or ‘shop-in-shops’.

Retail is now a destination and shopping a stage

For brand owners these areas are the theatrical equivalent of putting their brands on stage in front of an audience. They spotlight their brands and allow them to set the mood and drama thanks to furnishings, lighting and appropriate props. An unavoidable focal point that encourages increased shopper interaction.

Brand zones are not just a space-grab for brands either. Retailers love them because they provide their shoppers with more dynamic, immersive environments. We are seeing this approach successfully applied across many channels and store formats, particularly on the high street, with Fashion, Sports, Health & Beauty and Electrical leading the way.

 

Godiva Branded Bay, Sainsbury’s

 

Grocery stores vs brands vs shoppers – winner takes all? Or benefits for all?

So the question is: is it now time for major grocery players to embrace this change? Arguably they want their own identity (to be at the forefront of shopper minds) and would prefer the brands sold in their stores to take a more passive role. But the landscape is changing…

The grocery multiples appear to be very focused on keeping their stores uncluttered and easily navigable, so reducing the level of brand ‘noise’ is a positive to them. This is evident with many brands forced to use the retailers’ own templated POS formats, resulting in the brand playing a more secondary role.

With the added pressure from online grocery sales and discounters increasingly offering a simplified and value driven proposition, the multi-store grocery retailer may now need to look at other solutions for driving customer footfall. What can they offer shoppers that they can’t experience elsewhere? Could a shift to more brand owned zones in grocery create the ‘retailtainment’ shoppers crave? Is it time for grocery retailers to rent out branded spaces?

We may have seen the start of this revolution with Sainsbury’s introducing a Godiva branded bay into the confectionary category last year. The resulting break from the norm provided great brand stand-out, the ability to push beyond the constraints of standard store shelving and build a better experience for the shopper.

You can see a win, win, win situation all round. For the retailer through an incremental revenue stream, increasing shopper dwell time and providing a point of difference in this competitive market. For the brand, an enhanced shopper experience, freedom to convey their brand image to the shopper, without the restrictions of templated media, and ultimately increasing sales. And finally, a win for the shopper with a more fulfilling shopping experience.

It is unlikely this ploy would work for all brands as factors such as range and budget will have a major influence. However, there are many brands with the right range, budget and desire to create a destination area in grocery retail. Whether or not this beckons the start of a brand owned shop-in-shop revolution, we just have to watch this space.

To start your own in-store transformation, find us at the Retail Design Expo 2018, London Olympia, May 2-3. Visit Altavia UK, Designer Pavilion, E200 and E202. http://www.retaildesignexpo.com/

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