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Designing for success

Updated: Jan 29, 2023

We hope that 2023 has started well for you and that despite all the ongoing challenges, your business is in the best possible shape to optimise the year ahead.

We’ve been catching up with our clients, reviewing the past year and setting store design development goals for the year ahead. With strong Christmas sales both in store, as well as online, there is a welcome sense of cautious optimism in the air.

Far from the uncertain future retailers faced this time last year about the role of their physical stores - we can now see that online sales for 2022 fell as stores reopened and consumers returned to the high street. In fact, according to the independent Centre for Retail Research, UK online retail sales fell by 12% in 2022.

After the rapid redirection of investment into online platforms by bricks & mortar retailers during the pandemic, it’s not surprising that these retailers are starting to feel more confident about reinvesting in their physical stores again.

Store vacancy rates are down and there has been a flurry of store opening announcements in the press. M&S are to invest £480m in ‘bigger, better stores’ which Chief Executive Stuart Machin says, comes from “the outperformance” of their recently relocated and renewed stores. He goes on to say that “Stores are a core part of M&S’s omnichannel future and serve as a competitive advantage for how customers want to shop today.”

Machin is right of course, whilst consumers have returned to stores, they embraced digital retail during lockdown and now want a more hybrid shopping experience. Research shows as much as 50% of overall retail sales now involve an online interaction at some point in the shopping journey.

Barclays retail outlook for 2023 also cites this transition to more integrated omnichannel retail as an opportunity for retailers this coming year.

Nevertheless, truly blending the physical and digital shopping experience for consumers isn’t going to be easy for some. Challenges abound for retail businesses as they grapple with how to tie their digital and physical operations together to deliver what customers want, when and where they want them.

“In a rapidly changing and increasingly demanding marketplace, design is a critical source of competitive advantage.” The Design Business Association (DBA)

Designing for success is at the heart of everything we do here at Innovare Design. This year we will continue to focus on helping our clients raise the bar on their hybrid shopping experiences. Importantly, we recognise that store design solutions will need to be not just innovative but carefully balanced against the operational capabilities of our clients and what customers want.

As always, our design work will be measured against a clear set of objectives in order to compare the ‘before and after’ impact of each design investment. At the start of the design project, we will sit down with senior client project teams to make sure we all have a clear picture of what ‘design success’ looks like. This involves identifying a few key metrics that will be used to measure design effectiveness:

  • Turnover & profitability: before and after redesign or against non-redesigned stores

  • Sales & profit per square metre: compare against targets as well as market trends

  • Staff satisfaction & productivity: before and after comparisons

  • Spend per customer: before and after comparisons

  • Customer dwell time & satisfaction: comparisons

  • New customer groups: set targets and measure new reach

With continued careful research, planning, measurement, and assessment of each store design initiative, we hope to deliver more breakthrough results for our clients this year. We wish you every success with your own design development projects.

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