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The Shape of Retail in 2017

Remembering a year in Retail is like riding a rollercoaster, where memories are made of challenges, brave experiences and lots of fun – with a pulse of one hundred-eighty every day. Retail does make you

Remembering a year in Retail is like riding a rollercoaster, where memories are made of challenges, brave experiences and lots of fun – with a pulse of one hundred-eighty every day. Retail does make you feel alive. But it also reminds me of a brand new Retail world, a world destined to be re-discovered in 2017. From the Amazon headlines to the fall of large retailers, maybe it teaches us something we can use in the years to come.

As long as I can remember I’ve been sharing my love for Retail. And by all means, I am not a fortune-teller but I can clearly see the writing’s on the wall. The physical wall, that is. A change is coming and it will at least redefine the Customer Journey, as we know it.



Being a true Retail ambassador, I regularly get questions about the use of new digital influences at physical Retail stores. I understand technology as a tool to enhance the Retail experience, but I am still a true believer of human contact as this is what brings added value to a physical store and its assortment. The psychology of the buying process is one of the most interesting subjects that will dominate the future of Retail, no doubt about it. But there’s more that will shape Retail in 2017.

Experiential Retail

We see an increasing number of Retailers and brands creating an entertainment destination where consumers with a specific lifestyle or interest get together. From a coffee corner to a yoga class, new Retail destinations are becoming more and more intertwined with leisure and thus encouraging more dwell-time. Some Retailers will explore the boundaries of the physical Retail space and create a welcoming space, where customers are able to relax and have a coffee. Others will explore a members-only approach to highlight exclusivity and bespoke services. Engaging with a brand on an experiential level eventually builds a strong and loyal community and will invite customers to actually visit a physical store for an appealing reason.


45 Grand | Nike’s exclusive, members only New York fitness studio.

Brand Values 

With Social Media on the rise, year after year, brand communication will become even more important. Retailers or brands need to be utterly transparent about their brand values and the origin of their products. From a strong sustainability program to the voice of the people on social networks that work for a brand or Retailer, consumers will actively seek a connection with those brands that are willing to share it all, even the imperfect messages. Transparency in Marketing is key in the coming years. As is sharing information with the public and employees about your brand values.


Patagonia | Living by and teaching consumers about “Responsible Economy.” 

Convenience versus Immersive

A shift in store formats will gradually take place as the new consumer will either be looking for a smaller-sized speciality store – think Barber shops – or will seek an immersive experience at larger Retail destinations. Long gone are the days were mega-sized stores with enormous assortments and a lack of personal service conquered the high streets. We’ve seen the rise of pop-up shops as a predecessor for the speciality and niche stores, and we’ve seen the rise of immersive and hybrid store formats instead of building a brand flagship store, filled with larger-than-life assortment that piles up to the sky. And it’s a massive shift that will separate the good, the bad and the ugly.


Niche & Specialty stores | The rise of the Barber shops.

Human contact

The only way to deliver even more of what’s expected comes from building a solid team of brand ambassadors who are knowledgeable, trust-worthy and deliver personal service with a smile. After all, if a customer decides to visit a store, we need to make it a memorable one and deliver bespoke services such as personal shopping and customizations. There is no room for error as customers expect the best of the best in service, all the time. Retail training will become a must-do but it will need a re-writing, with a new Customer Journey in mind.


Her Majesty’s Pleasure | A one-stop shop for all things Beauty & Pleasurable.


There is a need to re-define the Retail Customer Journey as we dive into 2017 and even beyond. And once again, it’s not rocket science. It’s a five-step simple roadmap to describe the physical journey of the customer and the path that they take – every day – towards a purchase. Based on the famous how, why, what, when and who questions, it’s a good exercise to start the new year with and to think about your unique selling points as a Retailer or brand. By taking the time, you’ll make a good start into re-defining your brand message, in the end giving customers solid reasons to shop at your store. And to see them come back again.

The Invitation

Why – Give customers a unique reason to travel to a physical store.

The Experience

How – Create a memorable in store experience and personal service that adds value to the visit.

The Farewell

What – Leave a lasting impression until the last second of a store visit and purchase.

The Comeback

When – Invite customers to come back again and tell them why.

The Ambassador

Who – Make customers feel at home and connect with your brand. Let them share your story, everywhere, to generate a community.

A New Year is around the corner and it’s filled with chances to create beautiful and unique experiences in Retail. How do you create yours?

Wishing you a memorable Retail journey in 2017.

Via Esther Van Geffen |