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We All Know in Our Hearts What Makes for Good Store Design

Let’s remember words of wisdom from longtime VMSD columnist Peter Glen.

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CALL ME AN OPTIMIST, but I think physical retail is here to stay. Helping prove that notion are the winners of our 2022 Retail Renovation Competition (pg. 22), our annual contest that features permanent renovation and conversion projects completed in 2021. Though the industry has arguably faced a continual, uphill battle since the start of the pandemic, the fact that retailers are still renovating aged spaces is a positive sign.

This year, Wushang Superlife Supermarket in Wuhan, China, took home the coveted Retail Renovation of the Year title by breaking down visual norms with its new curvilinear aesthetic. Part of the revamp was to allow shoppers more moments of surprise and discovery while lessening liminality. The result is a more interesting and engaging, yet simplified, shopping experience.

Increasingly, I’m seeing more studies and surveys from the likes of McKinsey & Co. and Deloitte that outline the importance of reducing friction across all channels, especially at the store level. Whether this translates to incorporating more tech touchpoints to alleviate store staff, optimizing inventory or fulfillment management systems, or simply streamlining a store’s design or VM strategy, customers are seeking unique experiences, and ones that erase the complications from making purchases.

I’m often shocked, and genuinely impressed, by how Peter Glen, VMSD’s longtime columnist (who died in 2001), always seemed to have this miraculous foresight into the future of retail. In one of his books dubbed “10 Years of Peter Glen: One Hundred Essays for the Improvement of Work, Life and Other Matters of Consequence,” published in 1994 – almost 30 years ago – Glen posits the importance of keeping the in-store experience exciting yet simple.

“We are witnessing the end of the old incestuous thinking of ‘design for design’s sake,’ because we know in our hearts that good design can simplify life and make it beautiful,” Glen writes. “Designing for the future will mean using new tools, making more of less and speaking directly and sincerely to consumers … Merchants and consumers must meet on common ground of the new simplicity. This will be a productive – and profitable – connection.”

And when it comes to examining the current state and strategy of physical retail and design, there’s no better outlet than VMSD’s International Retail Design Conference (IRDC)! We’re now in the home stretch leading up to the 22nd annual educational and networking event, taking place Oct. 26-27 in Columbus, Ohio.

Help us celebrate physical retail at IRDC this fall by visiting irdconline.com today to register!

We All Know in Our Hearts What Makes for Good Store Design

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