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Retail is changing, and it goes without saying that the role of the good old-fashioned physical store is changing with it.

New consumer wants and needs – most of which come in digital form – bring a host of new expectations for brands to give fast, exciting, meaningful, convenient experiences, all of which need to seamlessly integrate into our lives.

Retail is a tough world and achieving the above is no mean feat.

We sat down with our Chief Creative Officer Mike Roberts to get his thoughts on the evolving role of the store in 2020 and beyond.

As customers become more and more hyper-connected, what role does social media play in store design?

Brands have always had to have a huge focus on maintaining authentic relationships with their customers through all channels, but as competition increases and technology brings us all closer and closer together, this is becoming even more important.

The physical store is in turn becoming a more vital component than ever in that relationship story.

The store has become crucial as both a social media content aggregator and also as a content generator, where customers can celebrate their love for brands, fuelling their individual social currency, their sense of belonging to a broader community and enhancing their inclination to purchase.

So where does sustainability fit into this?

Sustainable thinking is inevitably a huge component of any forward-thinking retailer.

More and more customers are making decisions on what brands they engage with through their sustainability credentials alone, and Gen Zers (aka your future audience) are moulding that trend.

It stands to reason then that consumers from all walks of life will be judging your brand’s environments in the same way.

At the centre of Green Room’s approach for a while now have been the 4 key principles of Ethical sourcing, Lifespan approach, Repurposing and Ethical disposal as being intrinsic to all of our sustainable solutions.

And what do you think the future role of technology will be in-store?

Despite what most might think, the future isn’t going to be about leveraging the latest technologies.

It’s actually going to be about ensuring that your technology choices are centred around human needs.

Without an inherent understanding of what matters to the individuals that engage with your brand, technology will just get in the way of a good experience.

It goes without saying that the integration of technology is an important part of any modern store design, but ensuring it’s actually adding emotional and commercial value is critical.

We’ve seen too many examples of poorly considered technology integration that neither fulfils the needs of the customer or the retailer.

By considering tech choices through the filters of magic and logic, we can ensure that thoughtfully integrated technology not only provides a great experience for customers, but also delivers a significant return for the retailer.

PUMA NYC skill cube digital experience

So the big question: what does the future of retail look like?

Despite the rise of e-commerce and the impact of Covid-19 this year, physical retail isn’t going away.

As humans, we have an inherent desire to take part in physical experiences and congregate in social places.

Mix this with our desires for fulfilment, provision, expression and interaction and we build a useful case for the retail expression of the future.

Yes, the rules of retail are changing, but the human needs and desires that retail fulfils are not.

The stores of the future will balance out the opportunities that technology provides us with and the understanding of what it means to be human.

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