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Customization — the future of retail

Customization — the future of retail


Consumption and the necessity to increase production capacity have for a long time stimulated the market to create a lot of serial equipment. But time goes on, and now the focus is on one simple thesis: “There can be no two identical businesses”.

Production can be different, just like the restaurant business: some people prefer fast food, while others are looking for author's cuisine. Now Ustor is a kind of atelier, where you can choose fabrics, fittings and get a customized product based on your design or brand book.

This is an unusual article. In this article, we're not just going to talk about trends, but a little bit about the direction of the market, and what is most in demand by both businesses and consumers right now.


Interactive and engaging

Last year's Euroshop 2020 [discussed in more detail here] convinced us once again that the classic displays and equipment are slowly becoming a thing of the past. For the past few years, stores have been fighting for the attention of customers, for their engagement and time inside, as well as for sales volumes. 

Coronavirus has maintained this trend, but has expanded it online: marketplaces are now competing for the volume and quality of traffic, the time spent on the site and the number of one-time and, more importantly, recurring actions taken. 

Forbes recently named interactive showcases as one of the most promising trends. We are talking about a combination of video screens and direct contact: passersby can stop and play an interesting game, try the product, change the interface of the display... In general, we are talking about interaction. This, according to psychologists, strengthens the emotional contact between the consumer and the brand. 

COVID19 made this trend worse, again: businesses are trying to achieve minimal human-to-human contact and reduce staff costs in the store. Such displays not only allow you to get all the information you want about the product, but they can also work as self-service cash desks. 

The virtual catalog also fits perfectly into this idea. In Montreal, for example, there is a Puma storefront that allows you to browse the range even after hours: you can walk up to the screen at night and check if your favorite sneakers are there. Visitors of such a “virtual” store can also leave a message using the keyboard.

The Ralph Lauren brand is just as interactive. Back in 2007, for the first time, they allowed the audience to browse one of their collections directly from the street. At that time the company also equipped some of its retail outlets with large screens where everyone could create an individual T-shirt design.

For those products that involve interaction with the customer's senses (taste, sound, smell, touch), an emotional interaction is effective. For example, in a recent advertising campaign promoting Tazo teas, Starbucks invited passersby to play an interesting arcade game: controlling a small dragonfly, butterfly, or hummingbird, they looked for the components for each of the teas.

But we're not just talking about displays...


Copy that design and it will work, or won't it?

Alas, no. If we could copy the ready-made solutions of famous brands every time, the work of designers would lose its relevance: everyone would be doing about the same thing.

There is a whole industry of companies in the developed markets which deal with retail design and promotion. That is, designers do not simply develop visual concepts, but study business processes, service models, the specifics of customer segments. And based on this knowledge, they develop the design of commercial space, which actually increases sales.

Many people think you can copy someone else's design. This is not true. Experience shows that no matter how much you copy the best foreign cases, it will not work as a business. The design has to be consistent with business processes, service scripts, products and individual brand specifics. 

The crisis was a great school for Ukrainian retailers: it forced companies to think about how they will stand out from their competitors in the growing struggle for solvent consumers. This led to the fact that the business focused on solving strategic problems. 


Automation and customization in retail

The market situation has necessarily led the retail industry to the need for customized solutions. There are three main trends on the market right now: automation, customization, and big data. These are expected to lead to changes in retail and the way we shop in the future. 

Such data is given in a CBRE analytical review, and we have seen it very clearly at Euroshop 2020 and other major exhibitions in recent years. 

The Future of Retail 2030 study looks at 40 futuristic ideas and visions of how the retail world will change in the near term. The market will be affected by overcoming pandemics (and a new way of looking at interaction in a new world), as well as dynamics in people's lifestyles, urban environments and retail operations. 

Robotics and automation. Retailers will increasingly invest in new technology, and automation and robotics will change the number of niche jobs by 2030. Technology will replace staff in the retail industry

Forecasting power. As online shopping becomes the new reality, the advanced integration of trillions of connected sensors will provide a deeper understanding of consumer patterns, allow businesses to anticipate customer needs before they articulate them themselves, and build a more efficient and improved supply chain. 

This will allow the audience to see what they buy and help retailers fulfill orders more efficiently. 

Being able to buy what you want, wherever and whenever you want is the rule. Successes in smart-device technology are allowing consumers to buy literally what they see: anywhere, anytime. A customized approach in service will become the only possible standard for a competitive marketplace.

A retailer needs to know customers' consumer habits, ways of spending leisure time, style and color preferences. This is important to offer the audience a unique and personalized offer. 

Personalization will be a key factor in "tuning out" from competitors. 

Offline stores will become showrooms and brand ambassadors. Future shops will focus on delivering a company experience. 

Shopping offline should become an exciting and fulfilling impression. 



Taking this view of retail equipment design, the main value that a manufacturer can have is full support for personalization and uniqueness. 

In the future the "survivors" will be those companies that offer the audience boutique interaction on all levels, from service and communication, to equipment and interior design.