Retail Design Trends for 2017

Time is always changing, and 2017 has been no different. The times suggest the elemental need for refreshing ideas, vibrancy, creative thinking, and having an affinity for exploration and experimentation.

The retail design landscape is changing, and as innovative design-builders, we’re noticing a few powerful trends that reflect this need for overlapping creativity and critical thought. We’ve compiled some of the biggest retail design trends you’re bound to encounter throughout the year, and into the future.

Eco-Friendly, Sustainable Design

For many, many years, eco-friendly and sustainable business practices haven’t seemed incredibly compatible. Commercial success has long been linked to spending as little overhead capital as possible, in order to maximize profitability – and rightfully so. However, these days the retail market is encountering a growing sector of people seeking to live a greener, more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle, and this translates over to their shopping habits as well.

The eco-friendly retail design trends for 2017 that are beginning to emerge across the board span more than just architectural nuances and build practices – sustainable design is all about reducing the energy needed to operate a store, while luring in customers with an aesthetic appeal that mimics the things they want to see and feel in their own lives.

Consider that architectural components and aspects of your build can be both environmentally friendly, and reduce operating costs – like the use of passive solar heating and cooling, LED light bulbs, solar panels, natural hardwood flooring recycled from a local construction site, or demolition, reusable display materials,  and reusable or recyclable shopping bags that promote your brand. Design elements that accentuate sustainable design include the use of skylights to increase the amount of natural light within your retail space. A study from the California Energy Commission shows that increasing daylight not only improves people’s moods but inspired an increase of as much as 40% more in sales than a poorly lit store. It also keeps your employees happier, in turn influencing the energy of your customers.

Embrace Millennial Culture

Millennials aren’t like any other generation that’s come before them. They’re heavily engaged individuals and have an opinion and an expectation for nearly everything – and we mean that as a compliment. Simply put, millennials demand transparency in that they have an expectation that the companies they choose to support, and the places they choose to occupy should embody their lifestyle choices through and through.

This means that businesses and retail spaces can make real headway with a savvy millennial demographic by helping to display and illustrate their efforts towards environmental, social and economic impact. For example, LA-based Apolis is a men’s clothing company that is a certified B-Corp – a certification that embodies global community through rigorous standards for social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

Hybrid Spaces

As it would seem, just about every kind of retail environment can be complemented by a cafe, or some element of social space that involves conversing over a beverage, involves a service element, and of course, retail.

This is especially prevalent in the menswear retail industry, and market that’s growing at an alarming rate unto itself. The reason why? Men have never really enjoyed shopping for clothes because of the emphasis the retail industry has traditionally placed on the female experience. Much like the eco-friendly and sustainable retail trends, these hybrid spaces that blend retail, art, food & bev, and service – are making their park because they’re catering to a lifestyle. In this case, men are receptive to hybrid spaces because when they do shop, they prefer the experience to reflect their habitual behaviours.

Alternatively, the Sonos Studio in Los Angeles features short-term art exhibits, events and concerts in a space that showcases Sonos’ full line of products that aren’t actually for sale. This blends the ideas of brand immersion, art, and retail space by providing a hybridized space geared towards brand awareness, not necessarily just selling product. In these spaces owners and sales representatives act as curators and hosts, becoming an immersive environment that is as much about overlap as it is selling.

Hybrid spaces can also mean sharing bills; think of a hybrid space as a business who opens their doors to a roommate – another business. With rent prices for many existing retail spaces in BC sitting at an all-time-high, sharing bills and a collective space that complements both organizations seems pretty good. Put it this way, two businesses attract more attention than one, and day-to-day responsibilities can also be shared, making entrepreneurship an easier pill to swallow in uncertain economic times.

Humanized Spaces

In a world that’s increasingly private and secluded thanks to the advent of social media technologies, text communication, etc – the idea of human interaction has been encroaching on uncomfortable for some people. Not anymore. Many emerging retail establishments are beginning to ramp up the level of customer interaction within their spaces be eliminating the sales check out all together.

Instead, friendly employees roam the store armed with various digital wireless payment processing gadgets, and as a result, are conversing with customers more and becoming more knowledgeable about their products or services. Retail has a distinct power to expose people to new ideas, feelings and opportunities to engage with, and beginning by increasing the element of conversation, discussion and human interaction is a great way to stimulate growth, and feelings of trust in the retail market.

Pop-up’s & Drop Off’s

According to a study conducted by Storefront, temporary storefronts, also known in popular culture as pop-up shops, are poised to generate $80 billion annually. The concept stems from a retail trend of opening a short term sales space that can be used for a plethora of reasons including sales and events. What makes them unique is that they allow retail brands to create and curate exclusive spaces that generate feelings of relevance and interconnectivity among their customers.

Alternatively, the idea of a drop-off shop has become a budding retail design trend in recent months. Taking its inspiration from the pop-up shop sector, drop-off’s 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 can be seasonal, or used to generate buzz and awareness in a different neighbourhood as a ploy to boost traffic to a brick-and-mortar retail shop elsewhere. They’re also excellent at engaging with customers offline, and present a great way to unload outgoing inventory in a new way.

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