The Drum Live: Future of UK shops will be fewer, larger and pop-up, according to Diesel head of retail Pablo Sueiras
The future of the physical retail space will fall into two categories: big and pop-up, according to head of retail at Diesel, Pablo Sueiras.
Retail: Sueiras (second from right) spoke at The Drum Live
Sueiras told an audience at The Drum Live that the UK has too many stores and they need to become fewer, larger and offer a high quality experience on top of a brand's digital presence.
"I think the debate between online and offline has become one of competition, as though this is the past and that's the future," explained Sueiras. "It's actually a bit more complicated than that. People come to stores and will continue to go to stores or into a physical space for the foreseeable future. That physical future can be something very different in 20 years time to what it is now.
"It's about consistency firstly, not doing something that's radical and off putting, but also providing an experience in the physical space that you can't get in a digital space."
Instead of the traditional store set up which has seen shops struggle to remain relevant amid the digital revolution, Sueiras argued the two extreme solutions of big quality store and pop-up offered a future for retail, but said consistency was key in the transition.
"The fewer [stores] the better," he continued. "The UK is saturated in terms of stores, there needs to be a consolidation of retail space. The problem is this process is going to take decades because many businesses not that long ago were signing 25-year leases so it's going to be a while before we can see real structural change, but it is coming.
"At the other extreme would be the pop-up idea and I think it gets a bad rap really, and I think that's because a lot of pop-up stores are badly executed, it's not that the principles are wrong. It's early days, people haven't really figured out how to do it well, haven't figured out how to make it profitable. I see the future as being those two real extremes.
"Huge stores, amazing experiences, places that you want to spend time," he added. "At the other extreme something much more transient, immediate, surprising, branded locations, or going wherever there's lots of people on that particular day, something that is more temporary. From a physical point of view those are the big two trends."
Speaking on a panel alongside communications director at venue the O2 Jeremy King, director of digital at Universal Music UK Paul Smernicki and experience design director at SapientNitro Daniel Harvey, Sueiras said that customers ultimately cared about the brand, not the channel they accessed it through, and it's up to retailers to develop communication accordingly.
"I think they just see the brand, whether it's online or a store or a pop-up store or a permanent store or mobile - there has to be a consistency there, particularly when it comes to service," he said. "Each of those channels need to be excellent in their own way and that's the difficulty. There's a lot of time spent optimising websites, there isn't as much time optimising the stores.
"They're [consumers] coming to our stores more informed than ever before; they key is meeting those expectations so what we've got to do is make sure we don't disappoint but at the same time provide an experience that very much provides a pointed difference to online."
Sueiras added that the role of staff in a refreshed retail space needed consideration, saying that consumers often go to stores because they want conversation with a professional before making a purchase and retailers should consider the development of such services.
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