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Ringing in the New Year in Style: Retail design trends for 2008.

Retail design trends for 2008

Written by Troy Schwehr, F.C. Dadson, Inc.   
ringing
Many consumers want all the comforts of home when they visit a retail food business.
As 2007 runs out, retail fixture manufacturers and designers have their eyes turned to 2008. What exactly will the New Year bring in terms of retail design? There are certainly bound to be surprises and wildcards (as there always are), but there are also a few emerging trends, having built momentum during recent years, that will go full steam into the upcoming year. Below are five trends I think will be leading the way.

Green is the new “it” trend

When Wal-Mart starts doing it, you know it has to be big. Of course, I’m talking about “going green.” Reducing your negative environmental impact used to be something only the niche, nature-loving brands worked toward, but as society begins embracing the environmentally conscious state of mind, more retailers are jumping on the bandwagon to stay in tune with their target
customers. While the initial cost of eco-friendly products is still substantially higher than that of their less friendly counterparts, shoppers can look forward to experiencing more green design elements in the new year. Beginning with flooring, sustainable materials like concrete, bamboo, and linoleum will set the stage for low-VOC (volatile organic compound) wall treatments that will serve as a background for fixtures constructed from reclaimed wood, wheatboard, or other
recycled materials. Natural daylight and other energy-efficient light sources will highlight the fixtures and illuminate stores.

We’ve entered the digital age

It seems that everything is going “high-tech” these days. Why should retail be any different? As with green products, the cost of introducing in-store digital media is a high one once you’ve accounted for the hardware, software, mountings, and wired or wireless connections to support it, but that isn’t keeping retailers from experimenting with the technology. I’ll admit that when I first heard the words “in-store digital media,” visions of plasma and LCD flat screen monitors danced around in my head. Wall-mounted screens playing looped video and audio is probably the most widely used version of this media, but manufacturers are coming up with amazing products that add even more to the interactive shopping experience. You may be greeted by a digital floor mat promoting the best deals or by a digital image of the hottest movie release projected on a store’s exterior window; and once you get inside the store, it is a technology free-for-all.

There are the afore-mentioned television monitors playing branded content. There are also self-serve kiosks where you can see additional product details and demonstrations, peruse the store’s inventory, and check out after you’ve made all of your selections. There are touchscreens that allow shoppers to tailor their experience and products (as is the case at the styled by me Barbie Boutique) to their specific wants and needs. Dynamic light displays and motion-interactive elements are also becoming large parts of the high-tech movement.

If these technologies just aren’t fitting in the budget, you can take part in the trend with your store décor. Back-lit acrylic, metal elements, geometric shapes, and black and grey colour schemes – among other things – can make your store look “techie” without being technical.

It’s more than just seeing


More and more, consumers are looking for more than just products or services when they enter a business. They are looking for an experience. With the power a great experience has on same-store sales, retailers are doing their best to create immersive environments that are a treat for more than just the eyes. Hearing, smell, taste, and touch are stepping out from sight’s shadow to create a complete sensory experience. Audio has become more than bland elevator music. Stores like American Eagle Outfitters are now filling ears with special mixes and others are playing satellite radio. These soundtracks set the pace for shopping. Smells are being pumped in to tap into a shopper’s memory. Food and drinks are tantalizing taste buds in a number of stores and interactive media and product displays are keeping hands busy. All these elements work to create a sense of comfort, increase dwell time, and influence purchases.

There’s no place like home

Remember those days of wishing you could do all your shopping from the comfort of your favourite recliner? With the development of e-commerce, you can now do all sorts of shopping from your prized piece of furniture. Not wanting to miss out, bricks and mortar stores are providing the comforts of home in their locations. It’s not your favourite recliner, but these furnishings aim to make shopping every bit as comfortable.

Furniture arrangements, however, aren’t being limited to seating areas; they are also showing up on the sales floor. Armoire, table, and bookcase designs are popular choices for displays. I’ve even seen a kitchen chair chandelier and suitcases showcasing cheap travel souvenirs. I really can’t wait to see what other home-inspired designs hit the stores next year.

From saving the world to saving money, the green, high-tech, immersive, home-inspired, and streamlined design trends have emerged in recent years and possess the momentum to keep making their mark in stores everywhere. v
Troy Schwehr is a retail consultant for F.C. Dadson, Inc., a nationwide fixture management company. You can reach their national sales consultants at 1-800-728-0338 or visit them on the web at www.fcdadson.com .
 
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