If you hang out in the right places online, particularly web design circles, you start to hear a lot of talk about the importance of the user experience. How the look and feel of the site has to take into consideration every aspect of this experience, from online forms, to navigation, to links. The idea of course is to get them to buy, and to keep coming back for more. Well, the shopfitting industry has known the principle of the customer experience since before the existence of the world wide web. It’s the reason we’re hired, to provide an excellent customer experience designed to get them to buy and to come back and buy again.
But in the digital age, what used to count for a great customer experience in a store doesn’t really cut it anymore. The role of the shopfitting company of today is evolving. As more and more customers buy things on the web, the role of the retail store is also evolving, and customer experience expectations for physical stores are changing.
The rise in ecommerce paradoxically has made the physical space that much more important. It is a grounding experience for the consumer where they can go for physical immersion and to touch and feel a product and experience the brand. This focus on shopfitting is becoming more and more important to attract customers in the digital age.
The goal is still a great customer experience, but the customer expectations have changed. This may require attention to design elements such as entrances, fixtures, circulation, and overall atmosphere. Whatever it takes to make the customer feel good in the space since this will influence their buying decision.
What this all means for the shopfitting company and the store owners alike is being keenly aware of what the tastes and the expectations of the modern consumer are. Luxury brands in particular will need to pay special attention to the experience they are providing their customers. Keeping the brand message strong across the online and physical stores will require innovation and vision. It may also possibly require collaboration with digital designers and online agencies.
Many stores are bridging the gap between physical stores and the online experience by consulting with digital firms and startups. If modern day shopfitting is to evolve, it will need to move in the direction of making the customer experience in the store similar to the one online for the brand. For example, Burberry’s flagship store on London’s Regent Street, makes the transition from digital to physical almost seamlessly. Says Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, “…walking through the doors is just like walking into the website. It is Burberry World Live.”
It will be interesting to see how the role of shopfitting plays out as consumers move their buying to the internet, but also continue to have their buying decisions influenced in a physical space. One thing is for sure during this transition, and that is that the importance of innovative shopfitting will always be relevant.