Designing the retail experience
22 Jan 2018 2 min Brand Management

You have to create a consistent brand experience however and wherever a customer touches your brand, online or offline. The lines are forever blurred. – Angela Ahrendts.

The Atomic Model of Brand Management is premised on the philosophy that the more you infuse your brand into each customer touch point, the more value you are going to create. When you observe this approach in retail precincts, the difference between a brand-driven retail space and a generic point of sale becomes immediately evident. Here are 5 key points to consider when designing your next retail space:

1- Organizations must no longer consider a retail store as simply a box to sell merchandise out of. Today, the most influential brands command an almost religious following and retail stores have evolved into brand cathedrals, spaces where customers experience an evolving brand culture and receive education on different aspects of the brand identity.
2- Retail spaces now play a fundamental role in enhancing the architectural fabric of the urban scape and the best examples of retail spaces are no longer confined to being a point of sale. Instead they facilitate a brand-driven culture and are designed as a fusion of experiential concepts such as a store, a café, an art gallery, an event space etc. This allows the brand to be bigger than just a commercial operation and engage with the community over a shared philosophy.
3- As markets get more fragmented, customers are increasingly looking for unique experiences as opposed to the typical check-out process. One way in which niche brands are facilitating this is by creating a retail space that is an extension of the production facility or design studio. This unorthodox concept allows customers to experience the brand in an intimate manner and more importantly, engage with the people behind the scenes. This fosters a renewed sense of confidence in the purchase and also opens up opportunities for bespoke customization services.
4- Retail stores must no longer be considered as one large space but rather a collection of experiential spaces where each facilitates a different aspect of the customer journey.
5- In this insta-crazy world, retail spaces represent a huge opportunity to facilitate great content, enhance community engagement and increase brand value.

Here are some great examples.
1- Melbourne Watch Company, showroom and head office, Melbourne. The majority of MWC’s revenue is generated from online sales. So when the brand decided to launch its physical space, they wanted a completely unique experience. Customers can only arrange visits by appointment. On arrival, they are treated to a lounge-like space where they can browse the collection with one of the product experts while enjoying coffee or wine. They are also able to visit the watch assembly area and explore bespoke customization options. Lastly, the Managing Director’s office oversees the entire showroom via floor to ceiling glass walls and he is always keen to share the brand’s story.
2- Oscar Hunt Tailors, showroom and office, Melbourne. Located in the heart of Melbourne’s bustling CBD, this is a unique experience in the world of menswear tailoring. The whole space has been conceived as a collection of experiences that are arranged around the Tailor’s Workshop. Customers can walk-in or book appointments. Merchandise and examples of Oscar Hunt’s finest work are tastefully displayed throughout the showroom which features dark brown leather sofas, a fully serviced bar and three fitting rooms. As with MWC, customers are free to engage with the team and commission bespoke pieces.
3- Mercedes me Store, Melbourne. Melbourne boasts the seventh iteration of this brilliant concept by Mercedes-Benz. It is a true masterclass in brand-driven experiential marketing. The space is a fusion of Melbourne’s iconic café culture and Mercedes-Benz lifestyle. During the day, customers can enjoy hospitality, engage with Mercedes-Benz product experts as well as learn more about the brand via different touch points. The space even features a bespoke coffee roasting machine built with Mercedes-Benz vehicle parts. The beauty of this space is that it converts into an events gallery during the evening and showcases collaborations in art, food, fashion, sport, design and innovation.

So whether you’re designing a flagship store or a pop-up, any retail space must be designed as a larger experience that reinforces the brand philosophy and blurs the lines between a traditional store and the urban scape.

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