In order to change I believe that retail must look sideways, rather than just forwards, to find inspiration from other areas within our lives.

I read recently on the BBC website that a retail salesperson has a 92.3% chance of becoming automated in the future, while cashiers have a 97.1% chance of becoming automated. And yet retail managers have only a 27.9% chance of becoming automated.

So what does this mean for retail?

The sales floor is no longer explicitly about sales, far from it. As retail environments change and become more experiential and consultative, the roles of retail staff need redefining. What is in the titles we give the sales rep, service advisor, or Apple ‘Genius’? My personal favourite title is the GEM — ‘Guest Experience Manager’. I have yet to see this used in a retail environment, so far only in a hotel, but it certainly gave the hotel staff greater purpose and pride.

In order to change, I believe that retail must look sideways, rather than just forwards, to find inspiration from other areas of our lives.

I was recently introduced to a new interactive style of theatre. Instead of sitting in a seat, I participated in an optical illusion installation, walked through fantasy gardens, danced with the Queen of Hearts, ate biscuits and drank tea with the actors, all in one ‘theatre’ show The experience is immersive, engaging, and gets you actively involved. It is a very powerful experience — one that should be used more in retail environments.

Image is courtesy of Alice Underground

At Quinine, we think deeply about how staff and customers relate to physical objects within a retail environment. The ‘props’ on our retail ‘stage’ have a huge impact on the store experience. Our design ideas often work at a subconscious level, making the experience more intuitive, pleasant or engaging.

Microsoft staff are encouraged to play with products on display

Encouraging customers to interact and try new services might involve thinking beyond the traditional product display fixture. The roles of sales staff could be changed to ‘star performers’ — actors and actresses reading scripts and playing roles rather than just filling them.

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