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2023 - In / Out

Retail design is a fast moving beast, with lots of challenges to consider and obstacles to overcome (which is why we love it). There’s a few trends we’re looking forward to seeing the back of, and a couple that we can see on the horizon that will hopefully become more popular.


2022 – OUT


There are two kinds of brands, ones that assume their customer needs educating, and ones that assume their customer is smart. Companies that employed tech in-store for the sake thereof have risked treating their customers as inept.

When used smartly, tech in store can be a delight (those slick augmented reality pieces where a dinosaur stands next to you on the big screen) or it’s so useful, we can’t believe we lived without it (grocery scanners at the supermarket).

When used for the sake thereof, it’s a torture device. Being handed an iPad in store to complete your details (why do you need my address, are we going to be pen-friends?) is not only a germaphobe’s nightmare, it’s also so unnecessary. You want my precious market data AND you’re making me work for it? Get outta here. If in-store tech isn’t there for fun or crucial to the sales’ process, then cut it loose.


Retail conglomerates have done a spectacular job streamlining the retail, supply chain and customer service experience. Where it fails is when it becomes unyielding to the customer’s needs and simple requests can no longer be undertaken because the system won’t allow it.

We have one of those credit cards that annoyingly have a threshold on the points awarded within a year. Not being able to face the call centre queue, I recently went into a branch to switch cards, and was told but the staff member that they didn’t know anything about it - she suggested I go online or call the call centre to work it out?

If a company’s team can’t work out what they sell, it’s a little anti-sales to ask the customer to work it out. I suspect this is the downside to conglomerates in retail.


Oh goodness, my eyes. Blobby furniture is a pendulum swing away from those refined, yet uncomfortable, Scandi-inspired couches circulating en masse for the past ten years. Whilst blobby furniture may well be (annoyingly) comfortable, but it’s big and bulky, and it’s obtuse bulges threaten to overtake everything else in the room.


2023 - IN


Tech out on the retail floor can be cool, useful and fun. But it’s superior supply chain software that will make or break sales. Transparency and accuracy across product availability, freight timelines and delivery options sounds straightforward enough, but omnichannel shopping is still a fractured experience IRL, resulting in customer’s not being able to quickly access what they want.


The 2023 Pantone colour of the year is Viva Magenta – which reads as a dusty blue-based scarlet red. I’ve been waiting for red to make its return, and I’m surprised it’s taken this long. We’ve been out at sea palettes for over a decade, thanks to The Hamptons’ interior craze.

Red in retail is a strong colour to manage, it’s not for the faint-hearted. It can clash mercilessly with stock, but this version of dusty-red magenta could well work with timbers, and always be brightened up with a splash of turquoise.


In the media world, the eye of Sauron is focused on retail media.

Marketing and advertising teams are perpetually looking for the easiest way to connect with their brands’ consumers. With established networks that target identifiable, quantifiable and demographically defined audiences, this mostly untapped pathway is tipped for explosive growth.

Media behemoth, GroupM, estimated globally retailers brought in $88 billion USD in ad revenue last year, and it’s predicting ad spend in 2023 will reach $101 billion USD.

To put these numbers into context, in 2022 Amazon had approximately 76% share of retail digital media ad spend. By comparison, Walmart was the second largest at 6.1%, followed by Instacart at 1.9%. The gap between Amazon and its rival retailers has been slowly narrowing. In 2021 Walmart’s Retail Media Network ‘Walmart Connect’ generated $2.1 billion USD in ad revenue, a 136% increase from 2021. Target’s Retail Media Network ‘Roundel’ reached $1 billion USD in ad spend last year. In 2023, Instacart is expected to surpass $1 billion for the first time.

These examples only show what’s happening at the big end of town though. These are the big players, with robust online and IRL channels that deliver big volumes of customers viewers and visitors. Sitting under these mega-companies, the next tier of retailers may well be about to bask in some of this reflected retail media network glory.

Retail Media Networks aren’t just about online advertising. The network encompasses everything from the EDMs, catalogues, bricks and mortar stores and outdoor advertising. Used together, it’s the perfect end-to-end platform to share a marketer’s story. The race now sits with media agencies who can uncover the most solid networks to broker profitable deals between retailers and brands.


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