Customers are now the experts in-store says Retail Design Expo 2017 industry steering panel

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Retail Design Expo 2017 steering panel members, who advise on all aspects of this ever-growing show, gathered in London this month to discuss and provide their views on the key issues facing their businesses and the industry as a whole.

Some of the discussions that took place suggested that store design and VM need to reflect the changing relationship between stores and shoppers. Customers are now so well informed when they reach stores that, in many cases, they no longer expect retail staff to be experts on their own product ranges, members of Retail Design Expo’s steering panel agreed.

“The customer doesn’t expect expertise in-store – because they are the experts,” said The Body Shop International VM Director Adrienne Davitt. She and other panel members agreed that shoppers do so much research online before visiting stores that they can be as well educated about products as store staff.

Instead, store designs must complement or increase the knowledge and interest customers have. “You need to provide ways for them to test and explore, not be sold to,” said Davitt. “You have to ask how store design and VM encourage that.”

B&Q Head of Retail Design Alan Taylor echoed Davitt’s point. “The role of the store has absolutely changed,” he said. “Our customers are so much more knowledgeable when they arrive. Stores are just a part of a much bigger picture.”

Greater consumer knowledge of products has been matched by demands for quicker product development cycles, said Adidas Director of Retail Concepts Sigrid Brewka-Steeves. “It’s very fast. You need a start-up approach,” she said.

The panel agreed that consumers have been empowered massively by changes in retailing since the development of the internet – and that some retailers had been slow to respond. But they said that retailers now understand the necessity of a fully integrated approach between online and offline operations.

The dates for Retail Design Expo 2017 are May 8th & 9th. For more information visit www.retaildesignexpo.com

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