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Store of 2020 - Revisited


Back in 2012, the Saunders team pooled their retail design experience and knowledge of human behaviour to predict how people would shop for food and essentials in 2020. Back then we decided the most important thing for supermarkets would be to put the ‘Customer First’. As we’re now firmly in the midst of 2020, we thought it would be interesting to review our predictions and check this against how food retail stores have adapted to new ways of shopping. Some of the key points are outlined below but take a look at the illustration to see for yourself how our predictions panned out.

● Personalised shopping experience - We predicted that a ‘one shop fits all’ policy would no longer work and customers would demand that stores, and the products sold, meet some very individual needs. These needs could be as diverse as specific dietary requirements, facilities for disabled shoppers, parents with young children, older people who saw shopping as an ‘outing’ or busy individuals wanting fast, nutritious food. We proposed this could be met through concessions, housed in distinct areas of the store, so they were easier to find and navigate. Think of today’s butchers, fishmongers, bakery, pharmacy, free from ranges, imported goods, cafe and so on all found under one roof but in their own aisle or separate space.

● Improved consumer experience - Back in 2012, it was the norm to shop in large, edge-of-town, artificially-lit ‘warehouse’ stores. We suggested that future shoppers would want a mix of large, smaller and express stores and would prefer natural light and reduced clutter - no ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’! Our store designs included a central atrium lit by sunlight, with seating areas and a very open feel.

● Smart technology for smart shoppers - We thought about how consumers could use their smartphones to access individual advice about products locations, however this could extend to delivering allergy advice or suggestions on how to use ingredients. We also predicted how chip technology would allow customers to pay as they selected products as they moved around the store - and the need for free WIFI! All this has come true.

● Sustainability-aware consumers - It was clear that an eco-revolution was on its way. Our future design proposed electric car charging units (although we thought hydrogen cars would be the way forward), and designed energy efficient and eco-friendly elements to our stores including green areas and allotments around the carpark. We suggested that the store’s eco-credentials should be clearly visible to shoppers, who would be demanding that retailers were being eco-conscious.

● Customer Convenience - We determined that customers would want faster, easier ways to shop. Back in 2012, we proposed developing an ‘app’ that would help locate stores, scan products, add clubcard points, browse recipe ideas whilst shopping and so on. We also designed a ‘click and collect’ service whereby items could be ordered at home and picked up in store.

● Collaboration and Partnerships - The team predicted that supermarkets would forge partnerships with brands and work together to inspire and educate consumers. To give space for these promotions, we designed concession units, think ‘exhibition’ spaces, within the store that could be used as demonstration and presentation areas.

Our next challenge is to look ahead and predict how retail will change again over the next 8-10 years, especially in light of the current lockdown that has prompted a surge in demand for home deliveries from large retailers and local farm shops. We don’t believe that people will revert to old patterns but you’ll have to wait for our ‘Store of 2030’ article to find out more!

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