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The Future of Luxury Retail: Exploring Emerging Design Trends and Innovations

Updated: Jul 28, 2023


A luxury retail store with athletic clothes

As brick-and-mortar shopping habits are evolving in the post-pandemic economy, so are luxury retail stores.


Luxury retail customers still highly value the in-person shopping experience. A recent Inside Intelligence study noted that US in-person luxury shopping produced $84 billion in sales in 2022 while luxury ecommerce shopping produced only $24 billion.


Luxury retail builds must continue to meet the expectations of stakeholders and shoppers to support continued store profitability. But what does that mean for the construction industry?


Let’s explore four emerging build trends that the nation’s best luxury retail stores are embracing in 2023.


#1 Digital Integration Is Growing

While luxury e-commerce purchases represent just a fifth of the industry’s total sales, experts predict that luxury online shopping will grow in popularity over the next two years.


Luxury retail builders should consider responding by integrating digital solutions into their brick-and-mortar construction projects. Luckily, current industry trends offer builders numerous opportunities to develop creative solutions.


Virtual/Augmented Reality

Multiple luxury brands are incorporating the power of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) into their brick-and-mortar shopping experiences:


  • Customers in Nike stores can scan items to view more information (like alternate colorways) or use a VR headset to explore the brand’s manufacturing process.


  • WatchBox leverages AR to offer highly customized try-on opportunities for shoppers, giving them an opportunity to see their bespoke designs on their wrists before completing their order.


  • Visitors to BMW showrooms can use their phones and tablets to customize car colors and features or use VR headsets to get a taste of the driving experience.


As they create luxury retail spaces, builders should consider making room for high-tech experiences like AR and VR.


POS Evolution

Point-of-sale (POS) technologies are still evolving, and builders must carefully consider how emerging innovations will change the way customers interact with checkout spaces. Builders should keep their eyes on two major developments:


  1. Self-checkout – While self-checkout technology isn’t new, luxury retailers should consider how to incorporate self-checkout without losing the all-important human element of brick-and-mortar sales. Consider setting up self-checkout in a social area of your store—perhaps near the fitting room or refreshments station.


  1. RFID – RFID expansion is providing customers with faster checkout experiences than ever before. This could have a strong impact on a retail store’s checkout space needs: since customers are spending less time at the checkout counter or in line, builders might be able to allocate more space for additional displays or customer experiences.


#2 Sustainability is Under a Microscope

Sustainability is more important than ever to today’s consumers:


  • Shoppers across all generations are willing to pay 10% more for sustainable products.

  • Sustainable products sell nearly three times faster than non-sustainable equivalents.

  • 93% of consumers maintained or increased their sustainable shopping choices in 2022.


That said, today’s consumers have a keen eye for “greenwashing”— disingenuous displays of eco-friendliness that don’t accurately reflect a brand’s practices and products. A 2022 study in the Harvard Business Review discovered that companies failing to meet their sustainability goals in practice garnered lower customer satisfaction ratings.


In response, luxury retail builders should emphasize sustainability from the conceptual phase to completion.


Green Building Materials

Throughout the construction process, consider how retail stores can aesthetically reflect a brand’s eco-friendliness. One way to ensure that a brand’s brick-and-mortar space embodies its sustainability philosophies is to use green building materials whenever possible.


This might look like:


  • Using synthetic products (like flooring and hardware) made from recycled materials

  • Incorporating sustainable natural products (like fast-growing, highly renewable bamboo)

  • Specifying energy-efficient mechanical and electrical products (like LED lights)


In addition, consider how best to highlight these sustainable choices to customers—informational plaques or digital displays could help retail clients showcase their efforts to shoppers.


Responsible Construction Practices

In addition to sourcing sustainable building materials, consider implementing eco-friendly build and construction practices on your next luxury retail project.


Pursuing a green building certification (like a LEED or Green Globes rating) is one popular approach. These rigorous standards offer builders a roadmap for sustainable construction and carry significant industry credibility.


If your next project isn’t compatible with certification requirements, consider implementing responsible, eco-friendly practices anyway. Even if you don’t pursue certification, organizations like LEED offer extensive resources for builders looking to run greener projects.


Perhaps most importantly, remind retail clients to leverage these sustainability efforts in their marketing and advertising to showcase these efforts to customers as much as possible.


#3 Hybrid Space Experimentation

Luxury retailers are beginning to experiment with hybrid space planning—making shared or dual-purpose spaces inside their retail stores.


A Fabletics location in Walnut Creek, CA, for instance, recently incorporated a workout space into their retail store. While the space is designed for shoppers to test out their activewear in an actual fitness context, this is just a taste of the potential creativity builders should consider when conceptualizing innovative retail spaces.


Consider incorporating spaces like:


  1. Workout areas – Whether you add a few weight racks to an activewear store or build a layout that could accommodate a weekly in-store yoga class, offer customers an opportunity to do more than just shop when they visit.


  1. Social stations – Lounge areas, coffee bars, or even full-service restaurants (in the case of many Tommy Bahama retail stores) give shoppers a chance to connect with other visitors while they browse.


#4 Brand Authenticity is Everything

Noted above, we mentioned consumers’ skepticism of brands’ sustainability efforts. This points to a larger consumer trend that’s dominated the early 2020s: more than ever before, shoppers care about brand transparency and authenticity.


From a builder's perspective, authenticity is imperative to the success of your next luxury retail project. As you create new spaces in 2023 and beyond, ask yourself two key questions:


  1. Does this space look like my client? – Whether your client’s products embody elevated boho charm or sophisticated elegance, their brick-and-mortar space should reflect those sensibilities—in layout, materials, and finishes.


  1. Does this space feel like my client? – Builders understand how space influences mood, and this relationship is critical in luxury retail. Your creation must make shoppers feel like the space singularly embodies your client’s brand.


When customers enter a retail store, they should feel like that space accurately and authentically represents the brand’s products, philosophies, aesthetics, and tone.


Pacific Wide Builders: Building New Possibilities

Luxury retail construction has already changed substantially in 2023, and this trajectory will continue as trends like tech integration, sustainability, hybrid space use, and authenticity expand in the industry.


If you’re looking for a building partner for an upcoming luxury retail project, consider Pacific Wide Builders. We have extensive experience designing spaces for brands like Lululemon, Fabletics, Bebe, and APM Monaco. With diligent project management using industry-renowned software, Procure, we ensure every aspect of the construction process is meticulously executed, staying on schedule and delivering phenomenal results. Our mission is to deliver exceptional projects that consistently exceed our clients’ expectations every time.


When it’s time to bring your vision to life, contact us to get started.

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