The future of stores and branches in a digital world

Inner cities with their shopping streets, retailers and bank branches, were pronounced dead in the age of internet shopping and online banking. But recently we have been experiencing a new trend: pop-up and flagship stores are emerging. Oliver Leisse is a futurologist and explains what lies behind this trend. Nadin Chucher is the head of “Quartier Zukunft”, a meeting place that has very little in common with the traditional bank branch.

Opener Q110

In conversation with the experts

Is there a trend away from internet trading and back to local stores?

 

Nadin Chucher: We are fascinated by places where people can come together in an analog environment, where something is happening, where one can be a part of something. This is the feeling of community that we can never directly experience on the internet, in a form that is only possible in real life. This is why analog stores remain important.
Oliver Leisse: Yes, we are already observing this – people buy online to save time, but at the same time they are missing something, they yearn for more, for a true shopping experience.

...What should stores look like in the future?
Nadin Chucher: In the course of our planning, we looked at store concepts worldwide and I got the feeling that many stores equate modern with stylish, or have confused one with the other. There are screens and monitors hanging everywhere, everything feels cold and it is simply not an atmosphere in which I would wish to spend a longer period of time, or meet up with somebody. We believe we need to create spaces in which people feel comfortable and at home, in which they can relax.
Oliver Leisse: This is the so-called “third place”, not one’s own home and not a place of work either, but something in between, a protected area where I can find peace and quiet, where I can escape from the stress imposed by the modern age. The store or branch of the future should offer this space, not impose anything on the customer, but entertain and support them.

...What would you advise companies when it comes to the design of their salesrooms?
Nadin Chucher: The physical conversion is the third or fourth stage. First of all it is a question of the company’s business model and what role the company is to play in the lives of its customers in the future. To this end you have to listen carefully and then transfer the findings to the space. For our space concept, for example, we gathered feedback and opinions from 6,000 customers.
Oliver Leisse: Entrepreneurs and companies have to react to changes in their environment. When I enter a salesroom these days, it often says to me: “Go away! You are wasting your time here.” And this should not be the case. We have to convey to people a sense of appreciation for the valuable time that they spend with us. As an entrepreneur today one has to bid for the attention of one’s customers and is thus in a tough battle with competitors.