Retail

From groceries to placemaking, retailers are reinventing their post COVID conversation with shoppers as retail itself becomes more immersive, expressive, dramatic and hyper-personalised.

Need to Know
04 : 01 : 23

2022 has marked a transformative year for the retail sector: we look back at key shifts, guided by the acceleration of phygital commerce and the redefinition of what consumers want from brick-and-mortar shopping experiences.

The Trend: Hyperphysical Stores

Gucci Vault creative by Max Siedentopf, Italy Gucci Vault creative by Max Siedentopf, Italy

Hyperphysical stores, our retail macrotrend for 2022, emerged as the sector adjusted to the post-Covid landscape, with changing consumer needs pushing retailers to rethink bricks-and-mortar stores as more engaging, sensorial and memorable spaces.

While e-commerce is accelerating to offer multi-layered and sometimes confusing experiences for customers and brands, bricks-and-mortar shops are becoming the bastion of extraordinary, sensorial moments. These next-generation spaces can be seen through the lens of hyperphysicality; that is, the essential soulfulness required in physical spaces in the wake of global lockdowns.

This approach has trickled down from few disruptive concepts in early 2022 to becoming a distinguishable trope in retail, with instances of hyperphysical consumer touchpoints across sectors, regions and business types. Creating retail sanctuaries that facilitate a sense of wellbeing and foster emotional connections, but also bridging the phygital gap by adding values to immersive technologies, retailers are finding multiple ways to gain strategic edge by adopting hyperphysicality.

‘In this next chapter of retail innovation, many store environments will be less about selling products and more about providing us with enriching, emotional, ethereal and exclusive experiences,’ adds Martin Raymond, co-founder of The Future Laboratory.

The Big Idea: Sustainability Hubs

One evolution from our Hyperphysical Stores macrotrend is the rise of new retail hubs offering sustainability-focused customer experiences.

Physical retail is shifting to enriching and emotional brand experiences over purely commercial purposes. Add the drive for sustainability-focused customer journeys in-store, and fast fashion brands have a new agenda to clean up the way they talk about supply chains, ESG goals and milestones.

As a result, retailers are experimenting with physical spaces that are part store, part customer experience workshop. Consider Esprit, which is launching retail innovation hubs to inform its future retail strategy. As part of its revitalised look, the brand is introducing two new flagship stores to London and New York. Positioned as research hubs, these Esprit Futura concept spaces are focused on customer engagement trends, circularity behaviour drivers and local community creativity.

Elsewhere the Ingka Group – a real estate collaboration between Ikea and H&M – opened Atelier100, a maker-based concept store in London’s Hammersmith that showcases local creatives and their homeware collections as a start-up experiment. The retail space has been designed to host workshops, talks and events, making it more like a temporary exhibition space than a store.

Atelier100, UK

The Campaign: Early Majority

Early Majority, UK
Early Majority, US
Early Majority, UK

Retail business models are becoming more agile and customer-centric in the face of tighter budgets and growing rejection of excessive consumerism in the fashion industry.Technical outerwear brand Early Majority certainly had these considerations in mind when ideating its membership model, focused on community and ecological ethos.

How does it work? Paying members allow the brand to meet its aims of producing the fewest number of products for the maximum possible number of uses – for a limited time newcomers were offered the option to invest £358 ($440, €416) for a lifetime membership.

Through this approach, Early Majority also cultivates its community, ensuring that all products align with the circular and ethical values of its customers. Outside of the membership model, customers are required to pay a 60% premium for garments. Here, Early Majority shuns conventional retail models to instead invest in long-term customer loyalty, and a concept that benefits both people and planet.

The brand explains: ‘Departing from the dominant industry model, we are building a business based on a growing supportive community over producing unnecessary product.’ By centring its product creation on customer feedback, Early Majority sets an example to other brands in creating community-centric models that benefit both consumers and retailers.

The Interview: De:Store

Zero10 and Crosby Studios physical pop-up store, Manhattan Zero10 and Crosby Studios physical pop-up store, Manhattan

We spoke to former Japanese fashion influencer Datz Itsuki Daito, who is developing a decentralised retail model fit for a Web3 world.

Called De:Store, the San Francisco-based retail space is set to open in 2023 in Hayes Valley. Unlike traditional stores, De:Store will be owned and operated by a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO). Datz Itsuki Daito explains how he created the software enabling this next-gen store to see the light, and how down the line, he plans to sell his tool to other retailers, creating a model for next-level community-building.

This works by stakeholders managing ownership via a customised app, the DApp, designed to make onboarding into a Web3 experience slicker and more user-friendly.

‘This is a core product we are developing, and to prevent a chaos situation we specifically set what the community can do and what we are responsible for – the community is responsible for brand selection, with the operation of the store done by us.'

Having a physical storefront is a way for De:Store to step into so-called Web 2.5, and ease the onboarding to the still relatively nascent Web3.‘We want to make the experience like Web2, but with a next-level UX. It’s more like we’re taking it into Web2.5, then towards Web3 as eventually the world changes’.

The Space: Dior

Dior 30 Avenue Montaigne, France Dior 30 Avenue Montaigne, France

With the role of bricks-and-mortar touchpoints evolving beyond a purely commercial purpose, luxury brands are investing in cross-category retail design, incorporating spaces for hospitality, art or dining.

In this vein, Dior has unveiled the ambitious renovation of its 30 Avenue Montaigne flagship store in Paris, revealing activities and spaces ranging from a gallery to gardens to turning luxury retail into an immersive experience for visitors.

In addition to retail zones dedicated to ready-to-wear and accessories, the store houses a gallery, restaurant, pastry café, three gardens, haute couture ateliers, a jeweller and an events space that can be used for private dinners and events. Pushing beyond retail expectations, it's also home to La Suite Dior – a private apartment that comes with a master key to the building, making it accessible to guests 24/7, with staff on hand to assist them, from chefs to personal shoppers.

Pietro Beccari, chairman and CEO of Dior, tells WWD: 'In reality, we should find a new name for it, because it’s a complex such as does not exist in the world, so it’s a clear point that will mark the difference between us and our competitors.'

Indeed, 30 Avenue Montaigne beckons a new era for cross-category luxury retail at a time when shoppers are keen and curious to return to stores. For more, book our Retail Futures 2023 online event for sector-wide analysis and future sector trends.

Download the Future Forecast 2023 report

Victoria Ling for The Future Laboratory Victoria Ling for The Future Laboratory

Now that you know what shaped 2022, discover what’s on the horizon. Download our Future Forecast 2023 report comprising 50 new trends across 10 key consumer sectors, insights from our analysts and interviews with global innovators.

Not a member of LS:N Global?

The Future Forecast 2023 collection, including PDF report and on-demand webinar, is available to purchase from The Future Laboratory shop. Interested in becoming a member? Learn more here.

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