4 November 2022
But if the eco-system of trading needs to change, he observes, so too does our sense of bricks-and-mortar retail. At The Future Laboratory, we refer to the kind of store he’s speaking about as Hyperphysical Stores, while he calls them SWELCH stores, or blended spaces – ‘places that bring together shopping, working, entertainment, learning, culture and hospitality’ within the same realm of experience, activity and engagement.
This, he says, isn’t a place about points of sale, but ‘about points of connection that need to speak to us like a magazine, gallery, club, app, incubator, community and show rather than a transactional retailer’.
More trenchantly – apps and online shopping platforms aside – SWELCH offers will become the default touchpoints between brands and their audiences, which means that future-ready retailers need to see themselves as multimedia entertainers, and will need to recruit and plan accordingly for producers, creative directors, content managers, designers, writers, storytellers and choreographers rather than merchandisers, sales assistants, shelf-stackers and back-of-house people.
‘The past 30 years have squeezed the magic and margins out of retail, as we have tried to make it more about convenience, commodity, ubiquity, value and speed, while the next 30 years should be about bringing that magic, storytelling and wonder per square foot back.
You can find out more in this episode of Back to the F**kture, or in his book, Future Ready Retail: How to re-imagine the customer experience, rebuild retail spaces, and reignite our shopping malls and streets (KoganPage, 2022).