[White Paper] Driving the Future of Retail Through Experience per Square Foot

How do we optimize for experience in physical retail environments? By engaging the senses, integrating brand and placemaking, and prioritizing wellness.

The physical retail environment has become even more crucial for driving sales, even at a time when there’s a preference for the convenience of online shopping. The key to engaging consumers in physical spaces is to design in a way that maximizes in-person experiences. These immersive, unique opportunities to interact with products and brands are paramount as humans fundamentally crave meaningful and memorable connections.

While online purchases tend to be quick and easy — 18% of all retail sales happened online in 2020, and the number is growing — there’s still a need to provide tangible, tactile experiences for people in brick-and-mortar stores. These experiences cannot be replicated in the online environment where the human element of a transaction is lost.

So, what defines a good experience and what, or who, is driving these preferences? Through a research partnership with Rebekah Matheny, Associate Professor of Interior Design with Ohio State University, we seek to understand this new metric for success. Our work has centered on evaluating physical retail environments and engagement through a generational lens, exploring the value of multi-sensory stimulation, and understanding the full significance of sustainable design solutions.

I’m pleased to share the first phase of our research findings by way of a white paper, “Driving the Future of Retail Through Experience per Square Foot,” which looks at how physical stores can serve as places for community-building, connecting consumers not only to products, but to the brand’s purpose.

Download the white paper and delve into the first part of our research project.

Sheri Blattel

With more than 30 years of experience in retail design, associate principal Sheri Blattel co-leads Cushing Terrell’s retail team, driving thought leadership strategy and overseeing some of the firm’s largest, most complex projects for clients who include Whole Foods Market, Crate and Barrel, and H-E-B.