Retail design is increasingly incorporating technology into all stages of the production process – from concept, through to creation and onto customer interaction too. We examine the ways in which the industries are working together to rethink and innovate across retailing platforms.

Once only the remit of fast food restaurants to quickly and efficiently allow customers to place orders, the size – and type – of computing devices being used on the shop floor continues to expand. With consoles shrinking and target audiences looking towards the luxury sphere, designers and high-end fashion outlets are using the retail space as place from which customers can order the latest collections through tablets.

Consumers are also at the forefront of ideas behind smartphone apps, meaning that customers’ favourite brands can be in the palm of their hand at all times. Using technology to be with the consumer at all times is likely to increase loyalty in a customer base, as well as becoming a go-to for expertise or reliable service within that sector. This can then be further followed up by personalised and unique in-store visits when they do enter the physical retail space.

Aside from the customer experience, technology is also being used in the production process itself, affecting factors such as stock control and buying systems. Using real-time information gathered from stock markets and other data can mean that prices stay in line with wider economic changes, as well as allowing comparison with competitors. Buyers and merchandisers can use mapping technology to view the most visited areas in store, aiding future visual and stock decisions and tapping into what attracts customers to a particular item or section.

Attentions are turning to taking technological innovation in retail even further, by weaving social media and design into the products themselves. Where and how the two industries will go next remains to be seen, but what is clear is that retail is increasingly using technology to further its own development as well as the customer experience.

Author Pippa Kulmar

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