Signage throughout Terra20 in Ottawa tells
shoppers how to influence what gets put on
the shelves. A web area invites shoppers to
suggest alternative products and air concerns
about existing products, which is sometimes
shared with vendors to encourage them to
produce more sustainably.
IPads allow shoppers to vote for their favorite
tunes to play in-store while they browse
Aéropostale at the Roosevelt Field Mall on
DIMENSION also can refer to a concept’s
level of importance. Several concepts are
gaining traction in retail: flexibility as designers find innovative ways to accommodate
constant change rather than designing for
refreshes every few years, customer service
such as custom tailoring, entertainment as
retailers seek to extend dwell time, and consumer control including shopper influence
over the store environment and product
TO SCI-FI FANS, a dimension is a parallel universe. Today’s brands are creating their own
realities, often redefining what a retailer or a store is. Just when traditional retailers
were getting used to competition from Internet retailers, clicks are laying bricks as online
purveyors—and their CPG counterparts—realize the benefits of maintaining a physical
space. In historic spaces, clever contemporary solutions enable homage to the past and
historic elements are reinterpreted to serve new retail purposes.
Parallel to the retail universe is a whole world of entities providing similar goods and
services through a different business model: co-ops, bartering networks, cause-oriented
stores, and the like. Alternative markets are growing, thanks to consumers’ search for
meaning in the wake of the recession, the rise of the LOHAS segment, and Millennials’
pursuit of experiences over acquisitions.
Another form of alternate reality is the store taking on new roles in society: that of
muse, catalyst for change, and member of the community.
Photo: Mark A. Steele
American Family Insurance’s DreamBank
store in Madison, Wis., brings members of
the community together to share their dreams
with on-site social and educational events,
access to social media at touchscreen kiosks,
and written and visual representations of
customers’ dreams in-store.
Live Twitter feeds projected onto a glass wall engage customers in
conversation even as they’re entering the Telus store in Laval, Canada,
helping to position the store as a member of the community.
Photo: Mark A. Steele
Co-ops like this Mega Foods in Eau Claire,
Wis., are among the alternative business
models competing with traditional retailers.