Trends in retail design

Modern retail concepts are about creating memorable brand experiences for customers.

It’s termed ‘experiential retail’, and retail personality is the product.

Here are a few trends happening in retail today that can be incorporated into your strategy to give your own retail personality a boost:


Set up your platform


Social media platforms are still the most powerful marketing tool and the easiest way to communicate retail personality.

A dialogue-based approach to communication creates emotional relations between brands and their consumers.

As a retailer, managing your posts can seem like an overwhelming task, but there are more and more apps now that can help you plan and schedule your posts in advance as well as give you a designer look. Even still, it can seem daunting, and so increasingly retailers are hiring social media professionals who know how to maximize your platforms’ performance with tailored messages to reach a greater audience.


Upgrade digitally


Digital retail technology has so many avenues and applications, and consumers today expect a technologically updated store. The basics include having a digital product catalog that makes browsing and purchase planning easier.

An in-store mobile app can be custom designed for a retailer, whereby the customer can use their smartphone while in the store to access additional product information or to learn a brand story.

Digital kiosks and customized point of purchase displays encourage customers to interact, stay, and play. Dynamic digital lighting and graphics are programmable and create an always changing environment. We see these being implemented as stunning feature walls, moving lifestyle graphics, and within customized, interactive point-of-purchase displays.


Upgrade digitally


Pop Up Shops are temporary storefronts used for sales and events, and the trend is thriving.

They enable emerging and established retail brands to curate exclusive spaces that generate excitement and local interconnectivity among their customers.

Taking its inspiration from Pop Up Shops, there are also Drop-Off Shops. These are mobile, semi-permanent, storage container-sized retail spaces that get literally dropped off in the middle of public spaces. Both of these short-term retail shop ideas create marketing buzz and engage customers on a community level.


Upgrade digitally


Two or more businesses sharing a retail space is the basis of co-retailing.

It helps independent start-ups realize a store.

Retailers benefit by sharing the costs and patron traffic flow, but also it presents an exciting shopping experience for the customer because of the unique combination of products being offered.


Upgrade digitally


Host an event in your store. Whether it’s a scotch-tasting event at an art gallery, or an industry-specific product knowledge presentation, there is always an interesting angle that you can take on your mission statement and expand upon it.

As plugged in as people are, it is the community experience and connection that is the most powerful element to gain customer loyalty.


Upgrade digitally


Visual minimalism is trending with more stores having open concept layouts, using fewer (and lower height) fixtures, and allowing direct sightlines to strong perimeter walls. More retail space is being allotted to ‘experience areas’ that are designed to encourage patrons to relax amongst and/or interact with the product line.

There are more customized design elements in stores in the form of structural showpieces, murals, feature walls, and even fixtures as sculptural objects.

Inclusion of art defines a local uniqueness to the store that makes it more enjoyable and memorable.


WE KNOW... people are seeking to live a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle, and this translates over to their shopping habits as well. There is demand for product lines and building practices that support sustainable design. Biophilic design is about incorporating natural elements and aesthetics that evoke a connection to nature. Designing in plants and natural materials into your retail space that pull on the geographic location is ideal. It also keeps your employees happier, in turn influencing the energy of your customers.


These are just a few examples of how technology, design, and community building are being layered into retail strategies to create a customer experience. It’s all about communicating your brand values, adding a local touch, and telling authentic stories that shape a memorable impression. Gaining customer loyalty results in sales! Think about which of these trends could help amp up your retail personality?

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Lauren will be discussing the latest advancements in B2C technology in her seminar "Trends in Retail" at the Alberta Gift Fair on Tuesday, August 28 from 10 - 11 a.m. in the Retail Resource Centre Hall FGH.