Are concept stores the future of physical retail?

As with most buzzwords, ‘concept store’ is being thrown around a lot in the retail sector. Often, the term is claimed in the wrong setting, so what is a concept store? What differentiates one from a showroom or flagship store?

Selling a lifestyle

According to Unibox, a concept store “Takes the point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery, and sells things like a store.” Appealing to the modern shopper, these kinds of spaces aim to freshen up the current state of physical shopping.

Rather than a space that is primarily focused on selling products, a concept store sells the idea of a lifestyle to a specific target audience. Taking inspiration from galleries, magazines and the hospitality industry, these kinds of shops aim to give the modern consumer a more holistic shopping experience.

Up-to-date and contemporary products

Products are a varied mix from fashion to beauty to furniture and are curated around a certain theme. Typically, concept stores offer a mixture of brands and design is centered around encouraging customer interaction, discovery and experience.

Similarly, to a magazine’s content, concept stores stock is refreshed and changed on a regular basis to keep shoppers engaged and footfall frequent.

Image: The Apartment store in Copenhagen (Wallpaper)

“Similarly, to a magazine’s content, concept stores stock is refreshed and changed on a regular basis to keep shoppers engaged and footfall frequent”

A concept and a community

Experiential elements like a café, talks and screenings help build a community around the lifestyle they embody. The aim for these brands is to create a space consumers want to hang out, meet up with friends and sit and work in.

But what differentiates a concept store from other types of shops? Concept stores are all about rate of interaction rather than being to strengthen a brand like a flagship store is used for. This is why lots of brands use them to test the waters before rolling out ideas on the high-street.

Image: Store X in Berlin, Germany (Wallpaper)

Entertainment, engagement and experience

Building this sense of community and physical experience is one way bricks and mortar stores can thrive in the future. Focusing on the one thing that they can offer that e-commerce cannot. They can act as a place to gather, learn, discover and enjoy. Creating an alluring experience can attract modern shoppers to engage in real life experiences with a brand. This also diminishes the idea of a hard-sell. Buying feels fun, casual and customers can feel closer to the brand than ever before.

By targeting one specialised audience a brand can focus on personalising the experience and space to suit all of their needs. Rather than just a shop, these spaces become a hub of entertainment and shared experience. Allowing brands to test products and initiatives, concepts stores create a harmonious balance of testing and interaction – a win-win for physical stores in the current climate.

All images are sourced from Wallpaper.