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The Top Retail Trends of Interest 2015

Heywood Chan / Gensler

As 2015 draws to a close, let’s not forget the exciting retail trends we saw take hold in a year otherwise marked by cultural transformation and an atypically crazy political cycle.

Heightened technology, enhanced customer experiences, and the seamless melding of virtual and physical environments were some of the meta-trends that dictated the direction retail took these past 12 months. Below are several brief examples of retailers that embraced the changing landscape and strengthened their brands and businesses in the process.


Located at the base of Brooks Company Headquarters, the Seattle neighborhood store of Brooks Trailhead welcomes runners to explore an un-retail environment. It takes a customer on a journey that truly represents the spirit of Brooks: community empowered, fun (beer garden), and with resources available for running tips and advice (“guru bar”).

Seamless Brands

In my mind, a Seamless Brand Experience has been the Holy Grail of omni-channel retail for the past few years. Now we are seeing advanced retailers like Sephora deliver that experience to customers. Their Innovation Lab and their Powell Street, San Francisco store deliver smooth enhanced experiences without delays or hitches.

Travel Retail

Catering to the traveler has been a strategy employed in the past, but Bloomindale’s new Ala Moana store takes it to another level all together. The location features a main level Visitor Center complete with multi-lingual staff, a Tourism Manager and a VIP lounge retreat.

Surprises Lurk As Daniel Grieder, chief executive of Tommy Hilfiger, told The New York Times, “It’s not about turnover by square foot anymore. It’s about surprise by square foot, or newness.” Stores in London and New York keep the surprises coming and provide customers with front row fashion show entertainment via Virtual Reality. Talk about the unexpected.

The Internet of Things + Event space = Retail Tomorrow Land

I’m loving the concept of agile physical stores that promote hands on experimentation with new connected life products. A few examples that stand out are Target’s Open House and B8ta.

Drive Thru Groceries

If you’re looking to speed up your Grocery errand run, Walmart’s order on line pick up at store will be a hit. With stores in near proximity of so many Americans it only makes sense that Walmart has added the convenience of drive-thru grocery to their ‘Save Money, Live Better’ offering.

Photo courtesy of Eatsar

Return of the Automat

The automat is back! And Eatsa provides a 10 on my experience scale for those looking to indulge on technology for lunch.

Retail Social Clubs in the Age of Urbanism

In the new age of urbanization, the concept of social club retail delivers on the desire to connect with others while shopping. Wingtip is one example of how it can be very comfortable to belong to the club and shop.

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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