In the previous issue of Activeyes’ newsletter, we considered rapid levelling of the clinical playing field and looked at ways in which independent practices could differentiate their practices from both multiple and independent competitors.

The list included retail environment and visual impact, plus creation of a bespoke, unique customer experience.  In this issue, we invited one of the UK’s premier store design experts to share some thoughts on how retail is changing.

Dean Waugh is the Director of Retail Experience Design, a leading UK agency in the design and implementation of health and wellbeing retail environments, including optometry. Creating and managing store environment design is what they do best. Retail Experience Design combine creativity and practically to produce original and engaging designs that deliver great results.

“Over recent years the optical industry has seen a growing trend in practices placing greater emphasis on their retail operation. As clinical services prove less profitable, opticians are having to adapt their business model and become retailers as well as opticians. To be successful, it is crucial opticians understand how to provide a shopping experience for their customers.

The physical environment is such a key piece in creating the shopper experience. It is the touch point for the brand, a space where the customer can be compelled to emotionally purchase more expensive products, but only if the space is delivered well.

To ensure we are creating and delivering the best environments for our clients, here at Retail Experience Design, we attend several retail design conferences and exhibitions. We’ve recently returned from a two-day retail design expo, where leading retail designers, retail brands and industry experts discussed various design related subjects, one of which was the future of retail.

During an industry expert panel discussion, it was highlighted that UK retail is changing and evolving at a rapid pace, forcing stores and retailers to adapt. As customers become more retail savvy and expect more, the environments in which they shop must capture their imagination and offer unique and interesting shopping experiences.
Intelligent techniques need to be applied to how products are displayed and the environments in which they are placed need to carry individual personalities. Emerging technology will play an important role in how people shop, both in store and through an on-line presence. However, this will only place more emphasis on the physical space and the human interaction in-store.

Creating a ‘community’ of customers with a ‘local feel’ in store is an important factor to provide customers with a sense of loyalty and reason to visit again and again. It was also suggested that in-store technology, such as digital touchpoints, are a good addition to the store environment. However, for digital to be successful it needs to be integrated in the overall store environment to complement the customer journey. Product has always been king and will continue to be; technology will work to support and leverage the product, making it an experience designed for the customer.

As independent opticians become retailers, it’s important they understand the market and industry developments. Consumer trends and behaviours need to underpin the right shopping experiences for their customers. The danger for those not embracing the optical retail revolution, is being left behind and for larger brands to continue to grow and increase their market share of the sector.”

Pictured are two examples of the outstanding practice environments created by Retail Experience Design. Further images and videos can be viewed at www.retailexperiencedesign.co.uk