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The most effective retailers are those who are constantly reinventing themselves and how they can better serve their customers. In today's world, with shopping options available at the touch of a button, retail stores still have their own unique benefits. Here's how some of the world's leading retailers are redesigning the shopping experience to create more joy and delight for their customers.

1. PEOPLE-DESIGNED STORES

When you're designing anything online, you have to think about the user experience: how will a person know where to click on a website or how to buy through an app? Giving it careful thought can dramatically increase a company's sales.

The same holds true for in-store spaces. By thoughtfully analyzing how people walk through your store, where they want to linger, and how you can surprise or delight them at different points, you're creating a space that people want to stay in.

Look towards your visual and space markers throughout your store to get started. Technology can help, but even small retailers can get started with dedicated attention and creativity.

2. CONCIERGE SERVICES

With online companies like Stitch Fix making shopping customized to the person, in-person retailers are redesigning stores to offer the same services with even more elements of fun and relaxation.

Take Nordstrom's, a classic store that is always reinventing itself. In their latest concept store, they've sized down. Substantially. Instead of stocking shelves, their newest 3,000 square foot store offers a full fashion experience to their customers. Stylists curate outfits for them to try on. There are juices and wine to drink, and lush seating to lounge on.

It's not shopping: it's an experience. As Nordstrom notes:

"We know there are more and more demands on a customer’s time and we wanted to offer our best services in a convenient location to meet their shopping needs."

Beyond curated suggestions, you can also offer wine or beer in store, custom gift-wrapping services, in-store pickup, and more.

3. GRAB AND GO STORES

Shoppers today may have time to visit a store, but they certainly can't waste their time there. Because of this, retailers are now designing stores that reduce friction every step of the way.

Amazon, the giant e-commerce company, is actively creating brick-and-mortar stores with their Amazon Go stores in Seattle. They sell a variety of foods and ready-to-make meals for the nearby office worker crowd, but what sets these stores apart is Amazon's continued commitment to convenience.

There is no POS system. Instead, shoppers simply pick up products and go. Weight sensors on shelves, a dedicated mobile app, and shopper tracking streamline this process automatically.

4. COMMUNITY SPACES 

Finally, when we can buy almost anything online, retail locations stand out for the one thing online spaces can never offer: an in-person community gathering space.

Sleekly-designed Apple stores stand out in this category. By offering plenty of lounging areas, education workshops, and more, people simply want to hang out in Apple's in-person locations.

Another great example is Joann, the fabric and craft retailer. They're embracing the DIY, Pinterest-ready generation of shoppers by making a space made for their passions.

In Joann's prototype store, they added touchscreen kiosks to browse through projects, craft classes in their newly-launched Creator's Studio, mobile-integrated fabric cutting queues, and rentable sewing machines and tools. Beyond shopping, Joann is offering a hub for its community of crafters and artisans.

Doug Stephens, founder of Retail Prophet, notes that:

"Stores can’t be just about distributing products. They need to be about distributing experiences: fewer stores, more stories. That means putting less emphasis on shopping and more emphasis on entertainment, hospitality, and community."

TIPS FOR SMALL RETAILERS 

While many of these examples are from larger retail chains, there's inspiration for every size retailer. Truly, some of these ideas (like concierge services) are perfect fits for smaller retailers.

To redesign the shopping experience in your store, think about:

  • How you could redesign POS systems or aisles to make it easier to travel through your store
  • Where you could reduce friction in order to make the shopping experience more enjoyable
  • How your employees could act as expert guides for your customer's shopping journey
  • Small ways to highlight your vibrant community, like hosting artisans or creator nights, serving local brews and wines, going into the community with pop-up stores, creating charitable events, and more
  • Ways to bring in more delight as the smallest details can have big, memorable effects

With an ongoing commitment to making your retail store stand out, you can create more fun for your customers and more sales for your company