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Creating Tomorrow: what your customer expects from you this year

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There are a number of drawbacks to living in the UK. The weather, quite frankly, being one of them. Another, totally unrelated, is the lack of Sephora on our high streets. There are many brilliant beauty stores here, online in particular, where I sink a sizable portion of my pay cheque, but Sephora has a special place in my heart. One of the many joys of running WGSN is the fact that I spend plenty of time in our NYC office, which just happens to be paces away from the Times Square Sephora branch.

This might explain why a photo from one of the company’s European stores caught my eye recently: not a beautiful display of new lipsticks, but a pile of red shopping baskets at the front of the store, stacked up next to black ones. Why the colour options? The red ones are there to signal you want assistance while you’re browsing, the black ones that you want your personal space.

How simple. How genius.

The move is a perfect example of a brand appealing to ‘The Spacemakers’ – a 2020 shopper identified by WGSN’s Laura Saunter, the author of our annual Shopper Forecast.

This cohort are currently rewriting the rules of engagement for retailers, choosing to opt in or out of human interaction as they forge their own in-store experience.

The difficulty with The Spacemakers is that they’re neither shunning all interaction with retailers, nor embracing it wholeheartedly. Sometimes they want one thing; sometimes they want the opposite. That ‘something’ might be digital and sometimes it’s in-store. Confusingly, that means sometimes they want the slick and quick experience of web shopping but IRL, and sometimes they want human interaction but on a digital platform.

Where there is challenge, there is also opportunity.

Cosmetics retailer Harmay’s newest store in Beijing has been designed with Spacemakers in mind. Created by Aim Architecture, the store is all about discovery and exploration, allowing customers to make their own adventure.

Tapping into human curiosity and expressing that through spatial design, the store is like stepping behind the scenes. The products, distribution and delivery process area are on show for customers to either engage with or ignore. Each of the first four rooms invites a different hands-on experience to enhance offline sales engagement with the shopper. The last room – an empty space – is an “invitation to write the next act on their own”, Harmay says.

Watch those beauty stores, they’re leading the way for this year’s shoppers – myself included.

Recommended read: WGSN Insight

How will people shop this year and what will they expect from retailers? The Shopper Forecast 2020 reveals new customer priorities and profiles, and explores the strategies set to impact business across all industries.

On the road: hotel of the week

The Pig at Combe is a personal favourite of mine. We return at least once a year for long walks, open log fires and fantastic food. If you’re visiting the UK, or you’re a Brit on the hunt for a great staycation, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Product of the week: _faace Tired faace

I adore brands that focus on one thing, and do it really, really well. Enter stage right, _faace. Currently offering just three brilliant face masks, this up-and-coming little brand is one to watch. I’m combating my cold February skin with the fantastic Tired faace.

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