THEY SAY RETAIL IS DEAD

We built a Future Lab to prove them wrong

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People love to say that retail is dying. But we disagree, and we’ve got the insight to prove our point. From our vast experience in the industry, we know that the world of retail is rapidly transforming, so we created a living laboratory to find out how. Our BrandRetail Space showcases our vision of the future of retail, where tech merges with retail, content and community-building.

We couldn’t predict the outcome when we bunched together experts from diverse fields to develop use cases, but by both highlighting and exploring the future of retail, we were able to reveal the innovations that need to happen if brands want to stay ahead of the ever-deepening curve. Here’s what we learned so far.

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1. The Point of Sale is transforming into a Point of Experience.

“Retail is changing dramatically. In future, the Point of Sale as we know it will no longer exist. It’s about to transform into a Point of Experience — the most powerful media channel,” says LIGANOVA founder and managing director Vincent Bodo Andrin. “It’s all about community, commerce and content. Brands need to tell stories about their products that people find touching, surprising and inspiring.”

2. Human interaction will be central — and technology’s sole purpose will be to serve it

Unlike other innovation labs, our space is not about technology. We discovered that we don’t have to digitize the existing world at any price.Tech should be in the background, driving human communication and interlinking it with brands and products. We created completely new experiences that align with what we think the future Point of Experience will look like; namely, a place where brands meet people and enter into physical, human interaction with them. To make that happen successfully, we have to create interactive content that puts people first.

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A key challenge for retailers right now is to break out of existing silo structures and connect internal competences in order to create an integrated solution for the future Point of Experience.

3. Products are no longer enough

As once compartmentalized areas of life meld into each other, consumer expectations are transforming. The main draw of the retail store is not about products but experiences: Somewhere people go to enjoy themselves and stay awhile. When it comes to bricks and mortar, it’s adapt or die for brands.

4. Closing the gap between analog and digital is key to experiential retail

It’s clear that converting the Point of Sale to the Point of Experience is essential. But how, exactly? By closing the gap between the analog and digital worlds.

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5. Work, life and play become one

As the gap between analogue and digital worlds closes, the possibilities are almost endless. Today, the customer is more important than ever. Solutions require creativity and ingenuity: Pulling together previously disparate sections of retail to stage-produce the ultimate customer experience.

This trend extends beyond the obvious categories like work and life, to embrace all fields, including fashion, travel, hospitality, health & beauty and interiors. We no longer perceive these aspects as separate. To survive and thrive, we must be dynamic and agile, open to change and ready to adjust whenever the moment strikes. A brand is on the road to success if it can evoke in its customer a sense of security, connection and understanding.

Creativity flows in creative places. A prime example is our coworking area, a place for working, brainstorming and workshops. Surrounded on all sides by the BrandRetail Space, the area is inspiring and bathed in natural light, featuring biophilic elements that stimulate ideas and productivity.

Why can’t retail spaces incorporate inviting areas like this, where we want to spend quality time, whether working, living or playing?

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6. Content and product must be a perfect match

In our BrandRetailSpace we used technology to subtly complement the physical product, bringing it further to life. Adding context encourages interaction and stimulates the imagination. We believe technology should enhance the product and its benefits, not replace it. It matters what you choose to show, and why. Products are no longer the centerpiece. Instead, customers seek expertise, advice and the personal touch.

Recommendation engines are old news. We don’t just want to receive suggestions of other products we might like online. Why can’t we have similar experiences in store? Smart use of technology means that physical space should not limit us. Retailers can make the most of even small space by showcasing core products, and pivoting to storytelling.

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Touchscreens, for example, along with other integrated tech allows customers to access further details, videos and related services. Technology can also offer novel opportunities by taking us beyond the product and recommending relevant services. It’s a chance for retailers to show how much they understand their customers, creating a new experience and fostering brand loyalty born of this unexpected emotional connection.

We see a tendency among interior retailers to take cues from traditional models, by using technology to cross-sell related products. But why not surprise the customer with something totally unexpected?

7. Content is everywhere. Community is everything

The shift towards a seamless life makes it impossible to ignore the impact of hospitality. If a customer feels at home, he or she will be more relaxed and open to experiences. In turn, emotional brand connections can be made, forming the foundations of a meaningful community spirit. Retailers are not faceless sellers anymore, but a friendly, attractive presence that welcomes visitors again and again.

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Just as the home is the core of the family, our communal area is the heart of the BrandRetail Space. Its force is almost magnetic, encouraging positive and indulgent experiences that acknowledge the absence of traditional boundaries. We use technology to enhance rather than replace, and only when it truly makes sense. We incorporate digital devices subtly, so that every surface, analogue at first sight, can display content and shifts its function. Our ambient tech is simple, interactive, intuitive, aesthetic and product-enhancing.

8. AI, VR, IoT…. Emerging tech has a huge role to play

Our VR Bar is testament to the role of emerging tech in retail experiences. Virtual Reality has a unique ability to make you feel present on scene, and that in turn generates a deep feelings of empathy. Likewise, tools such as voice-activated assistants are very powerful for brands — not only can a consumer’s every whim be known and predicted, it can also be influenced.

“Seamless services driven by sensors, AI and appealing interfaces are currently growing extremely fast,” says Daniel Kellmereit, Managing Director of Liganova USA. “If you look at the bot market and developments around the connected home and connected buildings, you can clearly see that this market is on the verge of huge growth.”

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We are continually learning from our lab, and look forward to testing more hypothesis and paving the way to the future of retail through real-world examples. Have we missed something important? Let us know in the comments.

Any questions? Email us