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Shopwatch: design trends for 2016

We ask six leading interior design firms which key shopfit trends they expect to come through in 2016.

David Dalziel
Group creative director, Dalziel & Pow


Clients: River Island, Jigsaw, Oasis, Next, Primark, John Lewis, The White Company, Timberland and Australian retailers David Jones and Target

Next year we can expect to see a raft of big retailers following the lead of Primark in Madrid with their interpretation of impressive in-store theatre provided by the extensive use of large-scale digital screens. When something as powerful as that hits the market it causes ripples.

In-store hospitality will flourish, like the recent Oasis concept on Tottenham Court Road; this will be more bespoke and more tailored towards the brand and their customers, not just the default of a Costa or Starbucks. In-store services, such as nail bars and hair salons, will add a competitive edge, giving customers more reason to dwell in store. More expressive and unique concepts will be launched, in contrast to the predictable trend-led mainstream middle market. Clients will be braver.

The ongoing rise of digital sales will make retail design stronger as brands attempt to transform their stores into unique and engaging experiences. The successful brands will be truly omnichannel, with fewer and better stores.

The retail design industry will export their expertise abroad as global brands acknowledge the leading position of agencies servicing the very advanced and competitive UK market. We will be busy in Australia and South America next year as the world shrinks and long-distance consulting becomes the norm. Our industry will get closer to clients and their needs, problem-solving at a macro and micro level, from brand positioning to merchandising. 

Kate Shepherd
Director of strategy and insights, Checkland Kindleysides

Kate Shepherd

Clients: Uniqlo, Hunter, Jigsaw, Johnstons of Elgin, Lindex, Mohito (Poland), Hoss Intropia (Spain), New Era, Ugg, Joseph Cheaney & Sons, Size?

One of the key trends I hope to see flourish in 2016 is the notion of pushing the boundaries of experiential retail. Naturally, the distinction between real stores and ecommerce is the sensory experience provided by an immersive and engaging physical environment that is entirely distinctive to the personality of the brand and the locality of the store.

I hope to see brands and retailers become far braver as they experiment with concepts that engage all of the senses, stretching far beyond the obvious methods of communication to include sound, smell and touch.

I would also love to witness more retail concepts that demonstrate a sense of local relevance and individuality. We are encouraging many of our clients to adopt this “place-based” approach, and our latest work for Jigsaw in Guildford and Westfield points towards a future where we can find commercially relevant ways to achieve this vision on both a local and global scale.

The physical store is the place where consumers feel the closest connection to the brand, and this will continue to be its greatest strength in the future. In 2016, I expect to see brands and retailers continue to explore ways to provide the very best opportunities for product test and trial, enabling personalisation and social interaction wrapped up in a store environment that is highly emotive and multi-sensorial. 

Irene Maguire
Director, Caulder Moore


Clients: Gina, Cara, Ipekyol, Twist, Machka, Boutique 1, Pepe, Springfield, Jigsaw, Forever Unique, Village England

In 2016, retail brands will have to view how they use their bricks-and-mortar spaces in completely new ways. One of our fashion clients told us they don’t regard other fashion brands as their competitors, but rather cafes, bars and restaurants – other places where their customers are spending time and money. We believe this is highly significant and reflects the fact that, to encourage customers into your stores, you must offer something that online simply can’t, in terms of a multi-sensory experience. The in-store experience must focus on delivering the sensory, tactile, engaging, social experience and give a reason to shop in store.

For [Spanish retailer] Springfield, because their customer base is firmly in the millennials territory, we shaped our thinking around creating spaces that aligned with the urban environments where they socialise, dwell and spend time. Initiatives that work with their lifestyle, such as 24-hour lockers where they can pick up or drop off returns, recognise the need to make the brand interaction as simple and effortless as possible.

Employing more sensory armoury to get noticed and stay top of mind is vital in making sure stores deliver immersive experiences. The transactional element can easily be delivered online, but emotional engagement is where physical stores can deliver beyond all else and can be the key weapon in creating new brand fans.

 My personal view about how retail will develop is influenced by the discussion about brands investing exclusively in digital. Professor of marketing science Byron Sharp in his book How Brands Grow (and his even better TED talk) explains that digital largely targets existing customers, and brands cannot increase market share on the back of loyal customers alone. Brands should think about their retail spaces as an opportunity to entice and engage new customers. 

Martin Burden
Director, Ramboll

Martin Burden

Clients: Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Armani, Victoria’s Secret, Victoria Beckham, Coach, Pomellato, Harry Winston

For high-end retail space, the strongest trends over the past few years have all involved technology, mirroring the global digital revolution, and this looks set to continue into 2016.

This has been physically manifested through details such as large-format video screens and low-energy LED lighting throughout stores, but it is also invisibly manifested through technology such as remote data tracking. By linking to digital media and online accounts, retailers can track who is in their store, who they were served by last time and what they liked. This technology is now readily available and a big trend we expect to see expanding across the sector this year.

Stores are increasingly being designed as destinations, rather than simply purchase points, exhibiting items as you would in a gallery and looking to provide an experience that connects with customers. Being able to immerse yourself in the brand, showcasing items as you may aspire to see them at home, is going to increasingly shape how stores are designed. As online retail sales continue to rise, the in-store experience is becoming vital in connecting customers to a brand and their style.

We expect to see the fashion and retail world continue to move towards how we would imagine art galleries, with our work focusing on creating finely engineered environments composed of quality materials, which provide customers with a positive space to think over the products.

The question is whether high street retailers will also tap into this in 2016, and look to develop their retail spaces as quality environments in which to complement and drive online sales.

Stuart Naysmith
Partner, Gpstudio

Stuart Naysmith

Clients: Alexander McQueen, Asprey, Aspinal of London, Selfridges, Jigsaw, John Lewis, Shinsegae department store

We have numerous conversations about omnichannel, multi-platform and in-store digital and brand experience, but the most important question for 2016 will be: “What is the reality for the customer?” We will see more and more clients striving to build a community and not think like traditional retailers, instead making consumers feel part of, and influencers in, a bigger evolving story.

We will see service becoming even more of a key factor both online and in store, allowing the customer to buy products in the most convenient and efficient way. The role of the store will evolve by decreasing product density to allow flexibility and present hero and niche products, real-time trending new product launches and capsule collections in a sensory environment tailored to the brand experience. More and more retailers will seek to create an event with the use of product launches and build an expectation: a reason to visit the store.

Finally, more bricks-and-mortar retailers will learn from their online counterparts and build a strong customer database, which allows them to pre-empt shopping habits and react to customers’ needs. 

John Courtney
Director, Bobblehat


Clients: Aquascutum, Chester Barrie, Camel Active, Duck and Cover, The Dulwich Trader, Helen Moore, Lyle & Scott, Meyer, Peter Millar, Private White VC, Puffa, Richard James, Seidensticker, Skopes, Tricker’s

I asked one of our designers for his thoughts on trends for 2016. He said: “Gold, maroon, jazzy patterns, natural fibres, glass, steel, soft lighting and cauliflowers.” Then he said: “Ask me again tomorrow and my views are likely to be completely different.” The answer to this is not easy or straightforward, particularly if you’re a designer working for brands with different points of view and stories to tell.

In 2016, we’ll design more flexible retail display units that can quickly and easily adapt to whatever needs to be showcased. Versatility is key: providing retailers with the ability to display collections, looks and special offers at the drop of a hat, and without major disruption. Multi-functional retail systems maximise space, increase dwell time and have the ability to be the best salesman in the department. Our clients are already seeing an uplift in sales with this approach.

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