Retail design, Perkins+Will, Roger Wilson, Intuitive design, Retail in the UAE

Perkins+Will’s managing director, Roger Wilson, says successful retail design needs to be more flexible than ever

According to Roger Wilson, managing director at Perkins+Will, retail has ceased to be purely about bricks and mortar, or about implementing technology into the “same formats as before”.

“It is not enough for a developer to simply provide shell and core ‘spaces’ for retailers to trade,” Wilson said. “The new environment depends on integration with its context, other complementary uses and co-tenancies. It must be nimble and flexible, allowing short-term leases and pop-ups, and support newer, disruptive and bespoke retail offers.

“Developers must start thinking of their physical assets less as property and more as a media platform. This requires a wholly different approach to revenue models as ‘brands’ look more to recruitment and retention of customers to drive transaction and advocacy.”

He added that digital real estate will soon start working alongside physical real estate. As consumers walk around, engage with brands and receive information about shops, brands and products, pay for and automatically have items delivered to an autonomous vehicle, they will become participants in a “more gamified experience, receive promotions and become influencers”.

The value of this type of digital domain will be that it enhances the physical participation of shopping – physical space will become a playground for the digital domain.

The evolution of retail design is driven by the “sophisticated demands of consumers”, Wilson noted, which focus on customisation and service, as well as the desire to move away from monochrome environments to places with character, community and human interaction.

“The physical form and architectural design will become less about stylistic theming,” Wilson said. “Rather it will be more emotionally engaging, intuitive and convenient. Certainly, it will be less formulaic in its planning and will provide a wider variety of spaces, uses, tenancies and experiences.

“Future-ready environments will have developers as partners with brands to accommodate successful ‘shops’ that will speak like a magazine, change like a gallery, sell like a shop, share like an app, build loyalty like a club, and entertain like a show.”

Successful retail designs, he further assured, will be retailers who build communities and enable participation.

“Retail spaces will be a convergence of shopping, working, entertainment, learning, culture and hospitality,” Wilson said.