Retail’s New UX Sustainability Hubs

type - big idea
Big Idea
sector - media & technology
sector - retail
As consumer demand for value-driven retail increases, a new wave of Hyperphysical Stores offering sustainability-focused customer experiences are coming to the fore.

Retailers are experimenting with physical innovation hubs that are part store, part customer experience workshop. They are engaging touchpoints designed to enhance retailers’ understanding of both consumers’ sustainability and their UX expectations.

As we explore in our Hyperphysical Stores macrotrend, retailers are looking to re-invent the purpose of their physical locations to provide more enriching and emotional brand experiences. There is a drive for sustainability-focused customer journeys in-store; in the face of green-washing accusations, fast fashion brands have a new agenda to clean up the way they talk about supply chains, ESG goals and milestones.

We are in a Betterverse era where retailers are building data acquisition services in-store and installing Reuse-Repair-Recycle destinations that encourage a partnership retail experience for brands and consumers alike. 

Published by:

20 December 2022

Author: Alison Farrington

Image: Esprit, Hong Kong and Amsterdam


Atelier100, UK; Esprit, Hong Kong and Amsterdam

Sustainability experience hubs

Another Retailers are re-inventing their physical store spaces with a focus on innovation and interaction with consumers. In the age of digital commerce, more floor space is becoming dedicated to experience instead of inventory, and brands are looking to tap into shopper and community mindsets on themes such as sustainability and creativity.

Esprit is launching retail innovation hubs to inform its future retail strategy. The Hong Kong- and Amsterdam-based fashion brand is returning to the UK and US markets with two new flagship stores in London and New York – each with an innovation role.

Positioned as research hubs, the brand’s Esprit Futura concept spaces are focused on customer engagement trends, circularity behaviour drivers and local community creativity. The London store is due to open by the end of 2022, and will be a dedicated omnichannel experience innovation hub, while the New York location, slated for early 2023, will be geared towards collaborating with global creative design talent.

‘With Esprit Futura, we aim to leverage digital technologies, innovation and cross-industry collaboration to improve customer experiences and promote the circular economy in the fashion world,’ says Esprit CEO William Pak. ‘We look forward to proactively collaborating with experts, designers and start-ups within the fashion eco-system and beyond in our innovation hubs.’

Supporting community creators

In spring 2022, Ingka Group – a real estate collaboration between Ikea and H&M – opened Atelier100, a maker-based concept store in London’s Hammersmith that showcases local creatives and their homeware collections as a start-up experiment.

Atelier100 is also a funding and mentorship programme that offers financial help and assistance with manufacturing and bringing new designs to market. The retail space has been designed to host workshops, talks and events, making it more like a temporary exhibition space than a store.

‘It has to be driven by the makers and it is a challenge to us to simply be curators,’ says Camilla Henriksson, global brand manager at H&M, adding that local relevance is at the heart of the Atelier100 project and there are plans for it to travel to other cities. The format will be dictated by the host city and local creative community.

‘We leverage digital technologies and cross-industry collaboration to improve customer experiences and promote a circular economy’
William Pak, CEO, Esprit

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