Quinine took centre stage at Retail Design Expo 2017, welcoming visitors to its innovative, interactive exhibition stand over two hugely stimulating days.

Quinine took centre stage at Retail Design Expo 2017, welcoming visitors to its innovative, interactive exhibition stand over two hugely stimulating days.

We sponsored and hosted the Retail Design and Branding Theatre, facilitating great discussion and debate from many of the world’s leading influencers in retail. The theatre was a hub of knowledge and learning, as we looked ahead and predicted ‘The Future of Retail’.

Each day’s conference programme was opened by Quinine’s founder Ian Johnston, and chaired by Design Business Association CEO Deborah Dawton.

Here’s what Ian had to say about RDE 2017:

“It’s been amazing to host this event in the UK, and long overdue. UK Retail is leading the way globally and it is great to showcase this. RDE17 has proved a great opportunity to reach out to retailers and suppliers and hear different opinions.”

We have gathered ten key themes from the Retail Design & Branding Theatre as soundbites to inspire. We will be revisiting these topics over the year to add further thinking and examples:


1. Retail design must be human/people centric.

Both staff and consumers use the retail environment and need a human-centric design approach. There should be an emphasis on making people happy first, and technology second. Happy people spend money.

2. Sustainability in retail is a strategic approach.

If you can get your design strategy right up front, everything else falls into place. You should consider alternative ways to increase longevity in store, alongside the traditional end-to-end lifecycle, responsible waste management and use of recyclable materials.

3. Staff experience is as important as customers’ experience.

Combining the staff experience with the customer experience is where the magic happens in retail. Store design can create new opportunities for staff and customers to build relationships.

4. Technology needs to be purposeful.

Designers and retailers must think beyond the traditional digital screens to create new, engaging layers that remove boundaries between the digital and physical.

5. Retailers need to look elsewhere for inspiration.

Think laterally. Are there lessons to be learned from immersive theatre that can be applied to the retail environment? And what can games and gaming culture teach us about interactivity and engagement with customers?

6. Authenticity makes emotional connections to brands.

Authenticity is central to a successful brand experience. If your customers have an emotional connection to your brand then they will give you clues as to what they care about.

7. Retail as a social destination and exchange.

Retail experiences are no longer mere transactional spaces. They are becoming places of leisure and social interaction, where consumers and brands share cultural exchanges. Retailers need to create multiple reasons to visit rather than just being a place to shop.

8. If experiments work, use them for real.

Retailers need to take the next step and act upon learnings from their pilots/test/prototype formats. The one-off experiential moments of pop-up and concept stores need to be translated into business-as-usual retail.

9. New brand partnerships and ventures.

The most innovative retailers are finding new ways to build cross-brand partnerships. Consumers don’t care about brand boundaries, so why don't retailers look at ways of working together? There’s a growing opportunity, especially in department stores and shopping malls.

10. Sensory environments are adding to immersive experiences.

Multi-sensory design is used in an accidental or provocative way rather than as a strategic element of brand. Brands haven’t properly explored how powerful sound and smell might be in changing perceptions or customers behaviour.


We’re keen to lead and engage in conversations on the future of retail, take a look at our article on Staff for further insights into our design thinking.


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