Retail Trends: Giving Back and Embracing Technology

Many retailers were able to make impressive strides forward over the past year, despite inflation concerns and the ever-changing marketplace. From our experience working with some of our clients, we’re hearing conversations shift towards a few key trends. That packaged with what we heard at the 2022 International Retail Design Conference, 2023 will deliver increased focus on CSR and technology trends. Here are a few examples:

Over the past few years, BRR has collaborated with a number of our clients to incorporate many sustainable design solutions, such as installing EV charging stations, integrating solar panel arrays and implementing the latest energy requirements.

All signs point to this focus on sustainability continuing, as retailers see how achieving sustainability goals adds to a brand’s credibility. In its presentation at IRDC, we learned that REI made an ambitious goal to achieve zero waste in their new stores and accomplished that within the first year. They eliminated most laminates and MDFs from their store construction materials and found ways to remove foam fillers from the packaging of their fixtures. Rethinking construction methods to have easy assembly and disassembly of millwork and furniture for future reuse or recycling purposes can help a company achieve their sustainable goals for reducing the carbon footprint as well.

Corporate Responsibility
We also know that many retailers seek to complete their corporate responsibility goals and integrate mission statements into their store concepts. We learned last year that Sperry presented their venture with local campaigns that protected all types of waterways. The brand tied in the water motif from their mission statement to the graphics installed at their stores and this story resonated with younger demographics. The company also committed 50% of its product lines to be made of recycled materials. These acts of giving back to the environment or supporting underserved communities continue to resonate with consumers, create a loyal customer base and in the end benefit both the company and the cause or organization in which it supports.

New and innovative technologies will continue to influence the retail sector. Our BRR team understands the need for integrating digital experiences into brick-and-mortar store design. For example, a retailer’s app technology can influence a store’s layout and how products are delivered. Amazon has introduced this concept into their Amazon Style stores where a shopper can scan a product, select the size they want to try on, and it will appear in their designated fitting room. This type of technology will increase the number of product selections available since a wide array of sizes can be kept in the back stockroom.

Incorporating the latest technology will yield greater efficiency and output. BRR is working with retailers on integrating automated grocery picking systems. When integrating this type of equipment into a building or warehouse, the design team must carefully review the technical requirements. The flatness of the concrete slab, or structural support and layout with store operations are all considerations that BRR can help to advise.

Between adopting corporate responsibility, sustainability efforts and utilizing technology, retailers are poised to make an impact this year. Shoppers can expect to see personalized products, exciting in-store experiences and brands who put more focus on giving back to both the community and the environment.