Veteran designer Joseph Bona believes grocers need to reinvent their stores. As technology transforms multi-channel retail into hyper-channel “always-on” retailing, chains must emotionally connect with consumers like never before, he says.
He presented his views in a recent speech at EuroShop, the global trade fair in Dusseldorf, Germany, where he urged retailers to rethink the function of their brick-and-mortar stores.
“Emotion plus theatrics equals experience;’ says Bona, president, branded environments for CBX, a New York-based retail design consultancy and brand agency. “Story-telling ability, in particular, helps you create engaging experiences, and the memory of those experiences can inspire consumers by adding excitement and drama to routine transactions.
Ultimately, this is what energizes brand culture and drives long-term customer loyalty, even in a world perpetually driven to digital distraction.’
Today’s “always-on” environment is not restricted to people buying whatever they want using their phones and tablets. It also means they can use GPSand cloud-enabled tools to find the very best retail experiences available wherever they happen to be, Bona says.
“Physical stores can no longer be what they used to be-namely, distributors of other people’s goods at reasonable prices in convenient locations;’ he adds. “They must offer sights, sounds, tastes, touch, and emotion-3D experiences that 2D can’t achieve.’
Bona points to Trader Joe’s and Wegmans as retailers using design to create a sense of adventure and discovery. He says they are not just resellers of other branded products, but are destinations dedicated to providing truly unique and memorable experiences.
“They encourage you to browse, touch, feel and see what’s new and on display;’ Bona says. “They make shopping fun and engaging.’
He says grocers should bring some of the excitement of food TV to stores or add tasting stations, growler bars and restaurants in new or remodeled stores.
“Overall, retailers need to push the envelope and keep asking one basic question: ‘How do you maintain a pillar of affection and human touch while there’s a simultaneous shift to increasing human interaction with technology?” says Bona.
Read the full article in Grocery Headquarters, November 2014 issue