The question of what sales areas should look like and what has to happen on them in order to remain viable in the future and to hold one’s own in competition with the network is driving brands and trade forward. The aim is to charge products and surfaces with added value and experience – whether in a spectacular or rather minimalist way.
The reduced aesthetic of an art gallery creates a stage for the product: the men’s fashion label Paul Davis on Kurfürstendamm in Berlin. Photo:. Foto: Frölichschreiber
Last year there were two new openings that couldn’t be more different: In Osnabrück, the fashion house Lengermann + Trieschmann opened its new sports store in March on 5,200 sqm with a truly spectacular range of entertainment – this can be said without exaggeration – from the surf wave in the basement to the low-oxygen fitness studio on the upper floor, where you can train under high-altitude air conditions. A good 400 km further east, in Berlin, the fashion retailer Andreas Murkudis has carefully renovated its 1,000 sqm area during a four-week closure and reopened it at the end of August, without restaurants, screens, iPads or other smart features – the focus is solely on the exclusive products. Maximum purism here, entertainment at the highest level there. What speaks for one concept, what for the other? When is the highest possible entertainment factor the right strategy, when the “unagitated” variant, where nothing steals the show from the product? “Both approaches have their justification,” says architect Frank Dittel of the Stuttgart architects’ office DIA Dittel Architekten. Basically, one has to consider “how much consumer behaviour has changed. Shopping as it used to be doesn’t jump far enough today”.
POINT OF EXPERIENCE Marco Dionisio, head of Dioma, Bern, a company specialising in visual merchandising, interior design and trend research, says that “if you want to be successful today, you have to create and experience added value on the surfaces in any case”. And these added values have to be “more innovative and surprising than ever before – but at the same time they have to be in keeping with their own handwriting”, says Dionisio.
According to Dionisio, a spectacular installation such as L+T’s Surfwelle is a perfect tool for scoring points in competition with the net, because it is indeed “not only a marketing tool that makes you stand out from the competition, but also offers direct added value for customers”, says Frank Dittel, “the POS actually becomes a point of experience”. Dittel points out that, especially in the sports sector, where it is often a question of buying on demand, which is increasingly made online, the experience factor is essential on the surface. So it depends on the industry or the product. What is also decisive is whether it is a “mono- or multi-brand store, an established or newcomer brand and which customer should be addressed”, says Jaromin Hecker, Managing Director of the design and planning agency Heckhaus in Munich. If a spectacular concept “suits the brand, the product and its history, a bang on the drum is a success,” says Philipp Beck, Managing Director of Atelier 522 in Markdorf, because “loud concepts make statements, attract attention, arouse curiosity, entertain and invite people to attend the unusual staging. But the location also plays a role. In rather rural regions and in the multi-brand sector, one “certainly has to come up with a lot more than just the product,” says Jaromin Hecker, “one has to paddle in order to make oneself interesting and needs one’s own tools and stories to be on everyone’s lips.
In a purely product-focused concept, on the other hand, you also live from “clusters,” says architect Henrik Frölich of the Frölichschreiber architectural office in Berlin. What this means is that there are other offers in the immediate vicinity of the store, such as “a certain café, galleries or other shops that appeal to the relevant target group”. Jaromin Hecker also believes that minimalist concepts are particularly effective where they are embedded in a community. Incidentally, it is by no means the case that the experience is automatically neglected in purist concepts. Frank Dittel refers to Apple: “The product itself is the experience.
So do minimalist stationary concepts only work with unusual products and in the upmarket and luxury genre? “Not at all,” says Marco Dionisio. Even a supplier with cheaper products can be successful with a minimalist appearance on the sales floor. There are many examples of product-focused concepts on this side of the Apple league, “such as Zara, Anecdote, the H&M spin-off Arket, the eyewear manufacturer Ace & Tate or Aesop”, Philipp Beck names a few examples. Basically it is therefore “time to work on the brand, i.e. to work out what the brand says, in order to be able to play these values more strongly in the spatial context,” advises Jaromin Hecker. Obviously it’s not about either/or. “I believe that a mixture of product focus and attention-grabbing actions will take place,” says Frank Dittel. Ultimately, the point is always to translate the interface at which customer and product meet into an exciting concept that can be experienced spatially and to find an individual approach that is precisely tailored to the respective target group. “The better this is worked out”, says Jaromin Hecker, “the better the shop functions”.
Picture above: Action on the surface offers customers an experience: Ecco shoe brand’s campaign in the Schuster shoe multibrand store in Munich
Picture below: Quiet store design that puts tradition and brand values in the foreground: Schiesser Store at Kurfürstendamm in Berlin