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In the Pink

BY Marianne Wilson

British online fast-fashion retailer Missguided makes the leap to physical retail with a high-concept, high-impact store that brings its website to life.

Located at Westfield Stratford City mall in London, the 20,000-sq.-ft. store is built around an “on-air” television studio concept. The space delivers a dynamic live stream of real-time content, fashion and inspiration in a bold, pink-accented environment. It captures the desire of its young, Snapchat-obsessed audience for the new by offering a constantly changing space that includes plenty of shareable moments — and attention-getting visual merchandising statements.

Fusing the online and offline experience, the store is loaded with signage that encourages customers to download the brand’s app and follow it on Snapchat. Lightboxes display cheeky slogans that perfectly capture the playful, sometimes outrageous voice of the brand.

There are no traditional navigation paths in Missguided. Instead, the emphasis is on exploration and immersion. The space is fashioned as a series of lifestyle stage sets.

With social interaction at the heart of the concept, Missguided breaks from tradition and locates its fitting rooms at the front of the store, styling the area as an interactive lounge space, complete with emojis and tongue-in-cheek signage. Inspired by a glamorous Miami Beach pool party, palm trees surround the space and a swimming pool animation is projected onto the ceiling. Comfy seating areas encourage groups of friends to spend time showing off looks and exploring their personal style.

Designed by Dalziel + Pow, London, Missguided won a silver award in the soft-line specialty store category of the 2017 Shop! Design Awards.

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Target Goes Next-Gen

BY Marianne Wilson

In its most ambitious store redesign to date, Target Corp. will debut its next-generation format in October, in a 124,000-sq.-ft. store in Richmond, Texas. The new prototype is designed for flexibility and convenience, and will offer open sight lines and elevated product presentations. It also comes with a variety of timesaving features, physical as well as digital.

In addition, 40 additional Target stores will receive elements of the redesign when they are updated, also in October. And there is more to come.

“The new design for this Houston store will provide the vision for the 500 reimagined stores planned for 2018 and 2019, with the goal of taking a customized approach to creating an enhanced shopping experience,” said Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO of Target, which will spend billions of dollars over the next three years to revamp and reposition its stores.

Entrances

In a bid to making entering and exiting more convenient, the Houston store will have two separate entrances: one for shoppers who are time-pressed and only looking to buy a few items or pick up an online order, and another for people who want to leisurely shop.

The entrance for folks in a hurry will offer fast access to grocery, a wine and beer shop, self-checkout lanes and a dedicated order pickup counter, all within steps of each other. Reserved parking spaces will be located outside this entrance, allowing Target associates to deliver online orders to customers in their cars.

In another timesaving move, Target store associates will be equipped with new technology — available in all stores this fall — to search inventory, take payment from a mobile point-of-sale system and arrange delivery, all from the sales floor.

Other features of the new design include:

  • Modernized design elements, with glazed, large glass windows at the storefront, stenciled concrete floors, and unique lighting throughout;
  • An upgraded grocery department, with wood grain fixtures and increased fresh produce and grab-and-go options and meal solutions;
  • Elevated, cross-merchandise product presentations that encourage browsing and are designed to amplify Target’s exclusive assortments across apparel and accessories, home, jewelry and beauty; and
  • Curved, more circular center aisles that feature merchandise displays to engage shoppers “with compelling products in unexpected places,” according to Target.

In addition to its redesign initiative, Target plans to open more than 100 small-format stores during the next three years, primarily in dense urban neighborhoods and college campuses.

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Designing Safe Stores for Shoppers

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Retailers continue their efforts to step up design investments to improve the customer experience, but they should also focus on investing in customer safety.

That message was driven home during the SPECS session, “Safe Stores: Design Ideas to Help Customers Feel Safer” Speaker Andrew McQuilkin, retail leader at BHDP Architecture, explained that recent “active” shootings — when individuals actively attempt to harm people in confined, populated areas — have targeted formerly “safe areas,” including malls.

As these incidents proliferate, “people are becoming hyper-sensitive about their surroundings,” McQuilkin told attendees. “In some cases, incidents are fostering different behavior among shoppers — including their transition to online shopping so they can avoid malls altogether.”

Rather than lose customers to a fear of the unknown, the industry should be making it a priority to create safe spaces — stores as well as the overall mall — that are not only attractive, but make shoppers feel comfortable when they visit.

To successfully create safer spaces, retail teams must adopt new design and operational strategies. Here are some of the recommendations McQuilkin outlined:

Designate safe places, procedures

Whether designing concrete bomb shelters or dedicating a discrete location in the back of the store, retailers need to designate areas where they can “hide and protect” customers, if necessary. To ensure that customers feel safe and keep shoppers calm during an incident, members from merchandising, operations, loss prevention and other lines of business must also collaborate to create safety measures that keep shoppers and associates out of harm’s way. Store-level staff must also be trained on how to execute this plan.

The ability to “see and be seen”

Clear sightlines are crucial. Stores must give shoppers visibility to exits as well as the paths to find them. McQuilkin highlighted the value of installing ceiling-to-floor windows at gas station convenience stores, a move that gives shoppers inside and outside of the store visibility to their surroundings. Other retailers are breaking down the walls that separate specific departments inside of stores, making exits easier to locate.

Intuitive in-store navigation

“When shoppers feel lost, they don’t feel secure,” McQuilkin explained, suggesting retailers need to adopt designs that create intuitive navigation. This could be as simple as adding distinct statues or other structures or landmarks that make it easy for shoppers to locate a mall entrance, their car in the parking lot, or even simply meet up with people. Also, avoid confusing room design symmetry, whereby everything looks the same. Try to keep exits and service elements just off the main circulation.

Foster sense of “serve and protect”

Another way retailers can help shoppers feel safe is through security. Knowing someone is paying attention to who is in the store can be a comfort to shoppers and a deterrent to those with ill intent. The ideal team is not just uniformed guards. Some security personnel may be visible on the sales floor, while others patrol the floor in plain clothes. Also, more may be in the back monitoring surveillance equipment.

Create an “escapist” experience

Shoppers used to visit the mall to socialize with friends, and unwind from daily stresses. However, active shootings and other terrorist acts are playing on shoppers’ fears — an issue that is causing some customers to curb mall visits.

“Fear starts in shoppers’ subconscious,” he said. “Leverage strategies that invite shoppers to your property. Focus on creating a destination that delivers beauty and fun, and allows shoppers to relax.”

At the same, he added, focus on the strategies that will simultaneously create a safe place for shopping.

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