- Article by Penny Craswell
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Retail has undergone one of the most dramatic overhauls of any industry in recent times with the arrival and popularity of online shopping. In an era when Amazon has reportedly handled up to 500 orders per second on its best sales day, retailers have had to rapidly change their business models to compete. Globalisation has also brought about a new challenge, and it is increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd. Design is one way to do that – both through design services and through design thinking.
To stay competitive, retailers are now experimenting with new ways to interact with their customers through designed interiors, brand extensions, bespoke products and social media. A brand’s Instagram account may be its most powerful marketing tool, or the goods themselves may change – book retailers are diversifying, selling stationery or gifts alongside their books to compete with online booksellers.
Global brands are extending their reach – at M&M’s World in New York and other locations, personalised printers will print anything requested on customers’ M&Ms, offering a unique and personal experience for its customers. And, in Australia, the retail landscape is rapidly changing thanks to global brands such as Ikea, Zara, H&M and Uniqlo, providing stiff competition for local brands and in particular, department stores.
To retain (and gain) market share, retailers need to think intelligently about how to improve their offerings to differentiate themselves. Dutch trend forecaster, Lidewij Edelkoort in Trend Tablet says, “Imagination, improvisation, intelligence and humour are needed to redefine the shopping experiences of tomorrow.” Designers are uniquely positioned to provide this added appeal – including interior design services, branding and graphic design services and the appeal of designed goods.”
There is huge appetite for ‘real’ design, above the derivative products sold everywhere else. Design thinking is an essential ingredient for any retailer who wants to creatively engage the customer.
Lead image, MANY 6160 is a retail hub located inside an open-plan work space, photography by Dianna Snape.