The synergy between retail design and hospitality experience

Simon Fallon
Practice Director

Over the past 25 years working in design and architecture industry across many different sectors, I often ask myself what is good retail design and what is the synergy between user interface and end product. 

In my early design years as a designer, retail design was a transactional and short-lived experience of creating spaces for selling product we never knew we wanted but think we needed! We can all refer to the fundamental ‘science’ behind good retail being the four P’s; product, price, placement and promotion! Whilst this still rings true, there is one more very important fundamental to great retail design and that’s the experience itself. This is the synergy that connects both the consumer with the product.

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Experiences can come in many forms, be it the customer engagement or the after sale services. However, it is the creation of great and memorable experiences that is fundamentally embedded in the the tradition of good hospitality as well as retail design… 

The one thing we can always rely on is that great retail design will always sell us ‘stuff’ regardless. However retail like fashion is fast paced and will always need to embrace change to meet the ever evolving consumers needs. With the fast moving digital revolution, the retail audience is now far wider-reaching, allowing us to interact less and purchase even more! Algorithms track our internet searches and social media activity. They know before you do what you want, and try to sell that to you even more. However, with this greater choice of retailing options we need to ask ourselves whether this is enough to satisfy our shopping experience. Is the bricks-and-mortar store a thing of the past and is the creation of new ‘lifestyle choices’ brought on by the ‘free home delivery’ enough on its own?

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Retailers today have had to adapt to these changes to stay on top of the market and create destination shopping experiences. Shopping and retail centres have now evolved into ‘entertainment and lifestyle districts’, offering much more than is required for a simple sales transaction on its own. Instead, we are presented with good value offers, experiential package as well as a great day out, possibly with hotel accommodation included!

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Smaller retailers such as Nespresso have created loyalty offerings that make you feel like you are part for an exclusive club, whilst luxury travel brands such as DFS T- Galleria are reinventing themselves by incorporating life-style in their offerings. These include integrated hospitality services, food and beverage offers, as well as prestige club access offering personal shopping and concierge services. DFS as a travel retailer and department store has created retail spaces that connect with the community whilst also expressing a sense of place. Their T Galleria in Siem Reap embraces both retail and hospitality with local design to enhance a more memorable experience. 

So when we start looking at the principles of good retail design and what it has to offer, we need to be one step ahead as it is not just the the four P’s that will save your business. Good Retail design today is all about hospitality! It is just better packaged in a bigger bow, evoking greater memories and that is something you definitely want and need!

Photos above: DFS T Galleria Macao Four Season Prestige Lounge, DFS T Galleria Siem Reap, Cambodia, Photos by DFS. The Parisian Privé Styling Suite, Macao .Photo By Grischa Rueschendorf. Projects by PMDL