When the World Turns Upside Down

As consumers emerge from lockdown and seek out IRL experiences, designers are poised to deliver.
Posted June 3, 2020

If you’re like me, you’ve spent much of the past few of months attending webinars and participating in zoom chats with colleagues, trying to absorb as much information as possible as the world around us changes day by day.

Not only are we living through a unique time in modern history, but like it or not, we’re about to re-enter a completely new reality, and its incumbent upon every individual and organization to adapt or fall by the wayside.

Some experts posit that the pandemic has taken all of the trends that were in play in the pre-pandemic world and compressed the timeline, causing what might have taken a year or more to play out to shake out in a matter of days.
Retailers have been challenged to devise new “contactless” ways to serve customers, and vendors have stepped up to deliver hands-free devices and social distancing tools. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention.

Some of this change has been extremely painful, professionally and personally, as change often is. One thing is certain: the role of physical stores will never be the same as it was pre-pandemic. But long-term this represents a real opportunity for designers in this industry to be part of truly creating that store of the future we all wonder and dream about.

This is our chance to demonstrate the critical role of the store environment in the overall brand experience and to delight shoppers on their terms by delivering a truly exceptional visit when their store doors reopen. No doubt that physical retail will continue to evolve and change rapidly, mirroring the changes we’ll continue to see in shopper behavior, but I have no doubt that physical retail is here to stay.