We popped into the Retail Design Expo on its second day to look at the stalls and sit in a couple of talks. Our top 5 highlights from our visit were:

1) Welcome - entrance piece (FITCH)

On entering the arena, FITCH had constructed a large, impressive live wall where an artist spent the day filling the blank canvas with her thoughts and expressions from the expo in doodle form.

This was a fluid and interesting piece of art that caught the audience's attention, along with being a useful tool to document the great stuff that was going on.


Fitch also gave a talk on how the concept of time will change the retail landscape for Gen Z (people born between the 90's and early 2000's) while sharing a couple of best practice examples of where brands had capitalised on this target market's fresh outlook on retailing. These examples were:

Utilising your customer's enthusiasm and spontaneity - Nike and Snapchat
Launching a trainer at the Jumpman All-Star event in Los Angeles where attendees to the games were able to scan exclusive Snap codes to receive the shoes by 10:30pm that same night. Astonishingly all shoes had sold out within 23 minutes!

Inclusivity and a faster purchase - Adidas
A trial of body scanners allowed Adidas to determine customers' body shape and size. Customers where then able to get a sweater knitted by a machine within a matter of hours that was completely bespoke to them.

2) Launching flagship stores in the UK and US - (Adidas)

Kate Maher, a senior director at Adidas, gave some interesting insights into how they adapt their flagship stores to the cultural differences within each country.

Their store in New York, named the stadium concept, is an arena for customers to really push their limits. It has underground tunnels upon entry and stadium staged furniture to show off people and products as heroes and top performers.

The Shoreditch store has a rawness about it and is more of a blank canvas for customers to create. This 'Life' concept lends itself to host a number of different events like DJ's and guest speakers - very apt for the hipster location.

The Berlin store is centred around the community and their input and the fact that it's in Adidas' host country is a great space for them to test products and get real people's feedback before they enter mass production.

3) Evolution of the shopping journey in food and grocery around the world (IGD)

IGD highlighted some trends in the grocery sector in the following areas:

How physical gets digital.
A pharmacy chain in Sweden turned its store windows into light therapy, using specially adapted fluorescent lamps to emulate natural daylight that was triggered when customers walked by - helping to increase customers' Vitamin D exposure.

Online getting personal
Co-op Denmark tailoring their online experience to a personalised profile that suggests specific products based on your lifestyle. Personalising your online shopping experience is not a new concept but intuitively selecting your basket of products based on your lifestyle is a shift to ensuring that your online experience can be as quick and concise as possible.

Delivering the goods
Robomart in America is bringing the products to you via a driverless robot. It arrives outside your house and opens for you to select your products. It tracks what customers have taken using 'grab and go' technology and charges accordingly. The autonomous delivery vehicles will bring a new meaning to convenience by bringing the corner shop to your doorstep.

4) The changing face of experiential retail (Virgin)

Always a leader in experience, Virgin are great at putting their customers first and listening to customer feedback on the negative elements of the experience. Virgin Holidays talked about the new initiatives that they have launched in their 'Penthouse' and 'Pool house' concepts to push customer expectations, some examples they shared were:

A Virtual tour of Virgin Holidays' destinations
Allowing customers to try before they purchase by being transported to Riviera Maya in Mexico, get up close to dolphins in Xel-Ha Park and walk the ruins and cliffs of Tulum.

The world's first departure beach in Barbados
Taking the agony out of the last days early check out times, Virgin Holidays’ customers can now do all of their checking in procedures at the departure beach, making the most of their last day on holiday.

5) Robotics (SoftBank)

Pepper the kind, friendly robot is human-shaped, a little on the small size but surprisingly tactile. It even gives hugs! Pepper is the first humanoid robot capable of recognising the principal human emotions and adapting its behaviour to the mood of its audience.

We had a great experience and look forward to seeing more of Pepper in stores soon.


In summary the RDE was a insightful and inspiring event once again. It was great to see some of the emerging trends in retail and listen to how brands are adapting to recognise the changes in consumer profiles across so many different platforms, whether that's through the environment, digital interaction or departure beaches!

Tune in next year to hear what's going on in 2019!


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