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Top Ten Retail Trends of 2013

The Ferrari Store on Regent Street in London features tech-infused windows that depict the complementary emotional and cerebral aspects of Ferrari design and engineering. Photo by Rueben Derrick, © Gensler.

2013 has been a great year for global retail. We’ve seen the boundaries between online and in-store shopping blur more than ever before. Personalized customer experiences are becoming more popular, and easier for brands to deliver. And – best of all – retailers all around the world are increasingly recognizing that experience and design are the best ways to differentiate from competitors and engage consumers in more meaningful relationships. In the past twelve months we’ve seen many examples of retailers large and small setting new high standards for the industry. Here are the top ten trends that caught my eye this year:

10. Facades as advertisements: Architectural statement facades once reserved for premiere retail flagships in Tokyo are now becoming more prevalent around the globe. The Chicago Burberry facade stands boldly on Michigan Avenue as a beacon to all brand worshippers.

Image source plus.google.com, © Burberry.

9. Retail trucks: Food trucks are so 2010. This year saw the rise of retail trucks! This is a great way for brands – whether new or established – to reach new markets or test new products, or to collaborate with other brands or events attended by like-minded consumers.

Image source pinterest.com.

8. Very specialty shops: Talk about honing in on the consumer, we are now seeing select lines featured in their own store environs. This allows brands to forge even deeper connections with their core customers, and deliver more personal, curated experiences.

7. Showrooming for real: A new Japanese retail app called WEAR takes showrooming to a new level by allowing customers to scan product barcodes in-store and then order online rather than purchasing the product in person. The participating retailer even receives a commission on the app’s sale, shifting showrooming to an opportunity rather than a threat.

6. Retail goes global: As U.S. brands continue to expand overseas, we are now witnessing an influx of foreign brands in the U.S., such as Uniqlo, Muji, Belstaff and Topshop, and they’re welcomed enthusiastically by consumers with global tastes.

5. Service combats taxes: In Brazil, global retailers with a high service quotient are welcomed, too. Extraordinary service helps to justify the elevated prices that are typically a result of the country’s high importation taxes, while also satisfying Brazilian consumer’s hunger for luxury.

4. Health and wellness emerge: Rite Aid and CVS join Walgreens in focusing on wellness as aging baby boomers realize it’s time to get healthy, and as changing laws mean that more consumers are seeking sources of healthcare on their own.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey offers a personal approach to health insurance with brick-and-mortar retail locations. Photo by Chris Leonard, © Gensler.

3. Urban retail: As millennials turn their backs on the ‘burbs, retailers like supermarkets are returning to denser urban environments too – often requiring a shift in store format and product mix.

2. Window engagement is back: With the return to urban retail, traditional shop-fronts like London’s Ferrari Store are being utilized to engage the passerby with brands in new and unexpected ways. With windows treated like temporary art exhibits, customers flock to see the latest installations before they’re gone.

1. Tech talking to tech: iBeacon looks to disrupt our typical interactions and create the world of ease that we all dreamed technology might provide, such as in-store navigation maps, dynamic pricing, and altogether more personal experiences – no push of a button even needed.

Cheers to 2014!

Barry Bourbon AIA, LEED® AP, is a leader of Gensler’s global retail practice and a principal in the San Francisco office. With a constant eye on the latest tools and technologies that connect consumers and retailers, Barry inspires colleagues to stay focused on the rapidly evolving issues facing clients, and to design for the holistic experience of a brand. Never one to shy from a challenge, Barry is an expert problem solver who excels at leading multi-location, multi-disciplinary teams with the tightest schedules and budgets. Contact him at barry_bourbon@gensler.com.

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