Traditional retail customer: what happened to him?

By Cristina Carvajal Coll, Architect with Jos de Vries The Retail Company

Today, customers don’t just go to the shops, they go shopping. What used to be a practical necessity has become a social activity. This new trend has created various changes in traditional retailers. The classic customer has given way to a new figure, who goes in search of surprise shops, novelties, a show… in short, innovation.

…and what about the Sensory Aspect?
Talking about sensations is a new thing, since until recently the act of buying was something mechanical and, probably, boring. When we talk about Shopping we are talking in terms of architecture, interior design and visual communication. Everything aimed at impact, stimulating the senses by remaining in consumers’ sensorial memories or on their retinas, even if only for a moment. Finding the product is not enough. They must be offered something more, something that stimulates them to repeat their visit to our centre many times over.

…and what about the toolbox?
In our grandparents’ time, the important thing for shops was to exhibit a large number of products, not the quality of presentation. This is no longer the case. The space and treatment we give products has changed dramatically. Each product is considered to have its own position and a specific place in the layout. By using the layout as a tool, you can communicate your extra values to your customer. With a good layout and suitable fixtures for presentation - that must be daring, modern and surprising - we have created a new shopping experience.

Another fundamental tool from this toolbox is lighting. Given our interest in innovation in this area, we have to mention LEDs (light emitting diodes). They are breaking forcefully onto the market for two basic reasons: their low cost (low voltage/low consumption, as well as long life) and their versatility in terms of applications and control. In the Retail sector, they are starting to be used as decorative elements, as they can be controlled with a simple computer program and offer endless options. The latest arrival is the white LED, which means that we will be able to use it for general lighting as well.

and what about Pop-Up Stores?
The culminating point of all these innovations in the Retail sector and an example of their application is the Pop-Up Store. The name comes from internet parlance and refers to the sudden appearance and equally sudden disappearance of the stores. Generally, they belong to small or lesser-known brands that above all want to create a sense of expectancy among their own customers. They exist for a very short time (maximum 15/20 days) and cause a great stir. They are almost itinerant exhibitions, made with easy-to-assemble, disposable or re-usable materials. They are highly innovative in concept and construction as they are largely unreplicable.
The Retail sector is in movement and is continually searching for new routes and new sensations and, above all, new thinkers with revolutionary ideas. That is the real innovation.

Please contact Jos de Vries The Retail Company ( for further information.

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