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Retail Design Expo: Create a memorable experience to halt retail fatigue says Katie Baron at Stylus

The desire for instant service shouldn’t come at the price of a great experience, warned Katie Baron, head of retail at Stylus, a trends and research agency.

She said retailers should be careful that "The pursuit of convenience doesn’t create an apathy that crushes meaningful connections”.

Speaking at the Retail Design Expo in Olympia exhibition centre in London, Baron predicted that brands able combine speed with experience will shine on the high street.

The “theatre of speed” was just one of the retail trends that Baron expects to grow in popularity on the high street in 2018 and beyond.

She shared examples of what forward-thinking businesses are already doing with the packed retail design theatre on the morning of day one of The Retail Design Expo show.

“Experience will be the key brand differentiator”on the high street, she said, giving the example of Adidas’ pop-up store in Berlin, where customers can have a custom-made Merino wool sweater produced for them in four hours. This, said Baron, played into “the notion of feeding speed but in a memorable manner”.

The consumer desire for constant change was also highlighted as driving new ways of doing business on the high street. The “update me economy” is driving some brands to completely rethink their business models.

She gave the example of Scandinavian Fashion brand FilippaK, which has experienced a 40% increase in rental sessions in 2016, following its decision to lease its collections to customers.

New business models will also emerge to feed the so-called liquid living” trend, predicts Baron. “There is a very widespread notion that the job of the brand is to service the consumer as fully as possible," she said, and this is driving brands to look at new ways to reach their customers.

Baron cited pharmacy as an area that is experiencing great change. Cedra Pharmacy is one chain that is combining products and services that differ to the usual high street offering. It sells a range of products and services, including custom products, such as mouthwash tailored to the ph of someone’s mouth as well as launching a range of organic cafes with highly trained staff to give nutritional advice.

Traditional retailers will have to think of new ways of providing exciting experience to succeed in a rapidly changing landscape, Baron advised. Brands need to “fuel fantasy – pushing the fantasy envelope is a smart move to beat retail fatigue”.