Space is at a premium in retail. Rising rents coupled with the negative impact the pandemic has had on the high-street could lead to some retailers downsizing. Those that had planned to move locations or expand the footprint of their stores may have to halt their plans and make do with the space they have.
Retailers have to consider various factors when it comes to how they use their floor space. This includes traffic flow, floor plans and product placement. They also have to accommodate for checkout areas, collection desks, stock room and, depending on the size and nature of the store, customer service desks, back offices and changing rooms.
What’s more, the growing volume of retail technologies that enhance the customer experience are also demanding space in-store. These can include smart kiosks and self-service checkouts, but some retailers are also experimenting with more immersive technologies.
In 2020 fashion brand & Other Stories trialled a vending machine in its Paris store that allowed customers to try specific products1. Similarly, Zara implemented a VR experience allowing customers to see items available in store paraded by models on a virtual catwalk2. Each of these applications will have required a dedicated portion of floor space for customers to experience the technology freely.
Of course, getting the customer experience right is a top priority. Online shopping has become more popular than ever thanks to the pandemic, the European Commission reports, so attracting customers back into stores and winning back their loyalty will be key to the survival of physical retail3. However, stores can adapt to this and other unexpected challenges without having to make big investments in expensive technologies that take up precious floor space.