Our Graphic Designers were out in East London’s urban playground this week, visiting some of the area’s most interesting retail spaces.
Anatomē offer a range of health and wellness products that reflect the brand’s belief that nutritional and emotional balance is the pathway to a healthy life. Knowledgeable staff encourage visitors to browse the space at their leisure, creating a relaxed environment where personal health and lifestyle questions can be answered. On a micro level, poor quality paper stock used for some of the graphic communications detracts from the overall sleek presentation and high quality execution of the space. In contrast, posters bringing to life the brand’s visual identity are more representative of Anatomē’s attention to detail, and communicate the relationship between the products and the human body.
Described by the brand’s website as a ‘destination that must be seen to be believed’, we were intrigued to see whether Kite’s Shoreditch space, deserved this accolade. The retail space has a minimal aesthetic with large mirrors and small palette of materials that allow products speak for themselves. An open bar occupies the center of the space, where visitors are encouraged to sit and use the smart mirrors whilst they admire the high quality products. Service is also offered in private booths, complete with drinks crafted by beverage pioneers Bompas & Parr. There’s no pressure from staff to take an eye test or purchase any glasses, instead customers are encouraged to browse at their own speed, creating a calm environment for product exploration.
Much more than just a store, Browns hosts an installation space in the entrance, a small coffee shop and a selection of purchasable artwork. The customer journey is slightly unnatural, as you find yourself revisiting the same path as you admire vacuum packed t-shirts, hung with elastic hooks, that create a ‘look but don’t touch’ experience. While the shopping experience is an unusual one, the gender-neutral shopping environment creates a more accessible retail experience. Another unique touch is the lack of a permanent till-point in the store. Instead, customers can pay anywhere they choose via roaming tablets. You are encouraged to take a seat whilst staff package products to take away, adding retail theatre to the experience.
Adidas’ Originals flagship is not only a space for the brand to exhibit its latest streetwear collection, but also somewhere for creative people to meet and collaborate. A huge table, tailor-made for co-working, lives in the heart of the space. A wall of trainers grabs your attention as you walk into the store, created using wooden slats that can be rearranged and painted to accommodate a changing display of products. The sense of constant newness is a great representation of the innovative spirit at the heart of the brand and an instant attraction for any trainer enthusiast. Admittedly, the store communications could be pushed further; posters around the retail space promoting the Arkyn range seem to lack purpose. This feels like missed opportunity, as creating something digital or interactive, that tells a stronger story, would have been more engaging and thus a better fit for the retail space.
For all four stores, it was immediately apparent that no matter how impressive or unique the retail space was, service was the make or break aspect of the experience. Brands that combine a pressure free browsing environment with knowledgeable staff and personalised assistance can create a space where product discovery feels natural and dwell time instinctively increases. In contrast, unfriendly staff can detract from the overall experience; if customers feel watched and judged and thus unable to enjoy and discover this will damage customer perception of the brand.
Read more about the changing role of store managers in a rapidly evolving retail industry here.
Images courtesy of Pause Magazine and Household.