The most innovative ‘flagship’ stores explore the link with brand values and the integration of technological solutions
Large retail brands have adopted ‘Flagship’ store design in recent years to position their brand and attract the attention of consumers. Companies such as Nike, Massimo Dutti, Mango or recently Gap in Barcelona have opted to launch a striking and memorable flagship of the brand.
The flagship is the company’s ‘first ship’, the largest, the most spectacular and the most experiential. In a single space, the brand combines the commercialization of products and reinforces the identity of the company through the design of spaces. Increasingly, the link with brand values and the integration of technology solutions at the physical point has exploded. What can we learn from the innovations in the new store models? Where is the future of retail heading?
Think big and you will win
Flagship stores are spaces with a much larger surface size than other stores of the firm. In addition, they are in a privileged location, with the aim of attracting the attention of the consumer in a place of transit. Already in 2018, Nike opened the doors of the Nike House of Innovation: a six-storey, 6,000-square-meter establishment in the heart of Fifth Avenue where it represents “the best of sports products, experiences and innovation,” in the opinion of the brand. Until recently, retailers offered their customers merchandise, product or service and now they are offering immersive and more authentic experiences with brands.
UNIQLO hasdeveloped this idea: in April 2020 the ‘UNIQLO Park’ opened in the city of Yokohama, an innovative flagship concept that hybridizes retail and playground especially designed for families with a ‘jungle gym’, climbing wall and slides for the little ones. The UNIQLO Park is the temple of the brand where to link with the values of the company and generate engagement with UNIQLO and its little sister GU.
The place to fall in love with the brand
It is an open secret. Flagship stores are a showcase for the brand but also much more. It is not just about showing products, the market is saturated with stores with products, offers, promotions, lights and colors. The flagship of the brand is a place where consumers can be involved, sharpen their senses, improve their experience and accompany them with better customer service.
Ikea announced in July this year its objective of expansion and transformation in Spain with the aim of improving customer service and logistics approach. The Swedish chain has chosen to open new proximity store formats with digital solutions. For example, in the center of Alcorcón (Madrid) they seek to improve the shopping experience with the incorporation of a QR code for product scanning, 3D technology to advise on the best sofa or mattress or a personal photo printing service in store.
Also at the Gap Barcelona flagship, inaugurated this fall and where Grup Idea Arquitectura has participated, it has integrated digital solutions at the physical point and the consumer has a garment customization service.
The best showcase is your design strategy
The design of spaces is one of the strengths in the creation of a brand’s flagship. The customer must get a very positive idea from the retailer and the design of spaces is the best channel to communicate the message. The use of colors, shapes and spaces must be creative, innovative and in line with the image of the brand.
The games of lights, screen uses or sensors are a good tool to surprise the customer as long as they are used properly. Technology must be agile and non-invasive for the customer and displays must be part of the store architecture.
Where is the future of retail heading? The flagship model offers us some clues about what the store model of the consumers of the future will be like: extraordinary and memorable to impress the consumer; with greater digital integration and the use of technologies that improve the shopping experience and with a creative space design in line with the brand’s image and strategy.
At Grup Idea Arquitectura we pursue precisely this line of work in the design of spaces. We imagine and design retail spaces for brands based on the business model and we incorporate the client into our work team to approach the project with the best specialists. Where is the future of retail heading? We continue working to give the best answer.