The Future of Brick-and-Mortar: Innovations in Store Design and Experience

Experts predict six key trends that will shape the future of brick-and-mortar retail.

After a period of lockdowns and increased reliance on digital shopping, consumers are reaffirming the importance of the in-store experience. As a result, executives are recognizing the significance of store design and experience in their brand strategies. However, the definition of a superior brick-and-mortar experience has evolved, and it varies based on individual preferences, needs, and technological integration. To navigate this complex landscape, brands and retailers are embracing innovation through new formats, technologies, and collaboration methods. In this article, we explore the insights of industry experts who share their predictions on the trends that will drive brick-and-mortar innovation.

Engagement- and Inspiration-Driven Spaces Come into Focus:

One trend that has emerged is the shift towards engagement- and inspiration-driven spaces. While convenience-driven formats have been popular, brands are realizing the irreplaceable power of human-to-human interaction and design-driven brand storytelling. This has led to the rise of community stores that foster a sense of belonging and connection. Examples include H&M Move and Tiffany Landmark in New York City, which provide immersive experiences and inspire customers. By focusing on community-building and empowering consumers, brands can enhance loyalty and make a positive impact.

Technology will Elevate Omnichannel Performance and Key Value Props:

As omnichannel capabilities become essential, retailers are prioritizing the integration of technology into the in-store experience. By leveraging technology, brands can support operational efficiency, enhance product interaction, and drive brand engagement. Mobile devices and access to information empower store associates to provide personalized assistance. Augmented reality and interactive fitting rooms are examples of technologies that elevate the experiential layer. As consumers become more comfortable with technology, its integration in retail environments will continue to evolve.

Store Design Teams Become ‘Experience Teams’:

To create impactful change, store design teams are shifting towards a collaborative approach. Designers, visual merchandisers, marketing, IT, and business strategy teams need to work together to align decisions with the bigger picture. By bringing together art, science, and business perspectives, brands can create comprehensive and scalable experiences. The involvement of technology experts from the beginning is crucial to avoid unintended consequences. The shift from “store design” to “experience design” reflects this new reality and emphasizes the holistic nature of the process.

Store KPIs Will Evolve to Reflect the Unique Role of Stores:

Traditional key performance indicators (KPIs) used to measure store performance often overlook the contribution of stores to the overall customer experience. To address this, retailers need to redefine their store KPIs to reflect stores’ distinct roles in the omnichannel journey. One important metric is “sales per engagement minute,” which measures the spend generated for every minute a customer is engaged with the retailer. By focusing on pointed metrics, retailers can gain valuable insights and make data-driven decisions.

Smaller Formats Inspire Big Innovation:

Small-format strategies have gained momentum as retailers experiment with localized, short-term experiences. Brands and retailers are embracing smaller and more specific formats to address particular goals and communicate targeted messages to defined audiences. These formats allow for lower overhead costs, reduced risk, and the opportunity to test and learn before committing to permanent locations. By leveraging technology and localization, brands can create immersive experiences and engage with consumers at significant times of the year.

Loss Prevention Enters the Design Conversation:

The rise of organized retail crime has brought loss prevention to the forefront of store design discussions. Retailers are exploring new technologies and procedures to combat theft and shrinkage. From locked plexiglass displays to AI-enhanced video surveillance, brands are implementing measures to protect the consumer experience. Self-identification requirements, such as Amazon Go technology, are expected to become more widespread in the future.


The future of brick-and-mortar retail lies in embracing innovation and understanding the evolving needs and preferences of consumers. By focusing on engagement, inspiration, technology integration, collaboration, and targeted experiences, brands can create memorable and meaningful in-store experiences. Redefining store KPIs and addressing loss prevention challenges are also crucial for success. As the retail landscape continues to evolve, staying attuned to these trends will be essential for brands and retailers to thrive in the brick-and-mortar space.

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