Stores Must Inform and Inspire Shoppers

As we look ahead to the coming decade, retailers should focus on interacting with shoppers on an individual, personal basis in store.
Posted January 8, 2020

The beginning of a new year is always a good occasion to think about which stores impressed me most among all of the stores I saw last year. From my 2019 travels, two stores especially come to mind.

One of these is the first Nike House of Innovation, which opened in Shanghai in October 2018. A second location followed in New York in November of the same year. Both stores are spaces and experiences that are both personal and responsive.

The Shanghai store, with a total selling space of 3800 square meters (roughly 41,000 square feet), spans four floors, each illuminated by digital screens and fixtures. The basement floor has a large space for social events, but also doubles as a training area that is supported by augmented reality.

One of the store’s highlights is the Sneakerlab, designed as a space where Nike’s super fans and sneakerheads can customize their own kicks and get their hands on the latest drop. The Nike Expert Studio is a designated NikePlus member area for personal styling sessions paired with fitness tests and other individualized services.

The second store (which I think is quite awesome) that came to mind is Veg and the City, a small garden shop of just 90 square meters (about 969 square feet) in the Swiss capital Zürich. The aim of the owner is to bring greenery in the city.

Veg and the City effectively addresses city dwellers who want to be a gardener on their balconies or patios. There is a close interaction between the store and its customers with an intensive customer advisory offering that includes gardening classes and workshops to offer answers to their questions and solutions for their problems instead of just items for sale. By request, the staff will also repave the balconies of their clients.

Although totally different at first glance, the two stores have much in common:

  • the information about a product has become more and more important because today’s customers want to learn more about products and/or brands before they will buy them
  • the customers become a partner in the product creation process – either by using special configuration tools or via a close interaction with in-store experts – to turn normal products into precious personal items
  • the store itself becomes the platform for a community for regular chats among like-minded people in the real world

Customers want to be informed, but they also want to be inspired. Retailers should always try to leave their customers with a smile on their faces. If retailers are successful, every one of us buys items not only because we need them, but because we want to take something with us from a place we love and where we felt good. Modern brick-and-mortar stores have to become “third places” where the customer feels like a most welcome guest and where they always like to return.

Learn about and see more of these new ideas and concepts that turn traditional stores into those third places at EuroShop 2020!

Claudia Horbert studied economics at the University of Cologne in Germany before she started her career in retail. At one of the biggest department stores in Germany, Galeria Kaufhof, she learned the retail business from the ground up. Horbert has worked for the EHI since 1999. As Director Research Store Planning & Design, she is in charge of research and also organizes working groups, international store tours as well as conferences. She is also in charge of the well-acknowledged European Retail Design Awards and is a member of various juries.