12 Things

As we head into our 12th year as a design company, we’ve taken a step back to reflect on 12 of the most influential shifts in human behaviour across the retail landscape and what has been driving them…


Today we live in a mobile society, with smartphones becoming a part of who we are and how we interact with ourselves and Brands.

By 2021, 48% of the global population will be a smartphone user. Buying behaviour and shopping experiences have fundamentally changed. Today, people live in a mobile society, with smartphones becoming a part of who we are. We are seeking out authentic, instagramable and personalised experiences. Whilst this is challenging traditional retail models, there is an opportunity for brands to create something extraordinary for the mobile obsessed customer.


Contactless has psychologically taken away the pain of paying and we are now seeing the introduction of cashless environments and in some cases Cashier less.

2007 saw the launch of contactless cards by Barclaycard. 12 years on, contactless payments continue to increase around 20% year on year. Even though there’s a £30 cap, contactless has psychologically taken away the pain of paying for something. With the tap of your card, ping… up to £30 leaves your bank account. More interestingly, the creation of cashless environments has now hit the retail landscape. Sainsburys launched a till-free store in London, customers can scan their items via an app, pay and then final scan as they leave the store ensuring payments have been taken.

LAB101 a denim brand launched a 24 store that’s unmanned, to purchase customers use a barcode via an iPad, scan their credit card details, confirm their order and a hatch releases the pair of jeans. Some will benefit more than others from this as frequency of payments increase but values remain £30 and under. But adapt a method like LAB101 and you could be quid’s in.


AR, VR, MR – The prediction was that this technology would revolutionise shopping experiences, but the question remains as to who has found a non-gimmicky use for these technologies… 

The rise of augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality, it seemed like it was going to be the answer for a lot of brands and their problems. The hype continued to rise with masses of PR coverage, but the question remains, who has actually found a non-gimmicky use for these technologies? Has it had a significant impact on customers experience?

Argos are using AR technology to help customers when choosing home furniture, take a picture of your living room within their app and start browsing through home furnishings such as sofas or TVs as we all know what a pain it is measuring diagonally. Lesson learnt from Argos is start with the problem and not the answer.


We are now spoilt for choice, having unlimited options and the desire to receive goods quicker than ever before – convenience remains the key driver.

Over the last 12 years the developments that have taken place in eCommerce have been phenomenal. From user experience shifting to minimal clicks, to premium delivery subscriptions allowing us to receive goods quicker than ever before. As a result, bricks and mortar has shifted from being the main source of sales to a personal touch point, playing a bigger part in a wider retail strategy.

With businesses such as Matches Fashion allowing people in certain areas to have 90-minute delivery, the courier will even wait outside whilst your try your items on. Cross channel trading means that pressures continue to rise to ensure brand fans have unlimited options for all parts of the buying process but remember, don’t make it too complicated.


90% of people trust recommendations more than traditional advertising, resulting in influencer marketing gaining huge popularity worldwide. 

Social media usage has soared over the last 12 years and so have product reviews on social media platforms. With 90% of shoppers around the world stating that they trust earned media such as, recommendations from friends and family, over traditional advertising. It makes sense that advertisers are now leveraging that as part of the marketing mix through online influencers. Resulting in a reduction in celebrity endorsements and an increase in influencer marketing. It has become so popular that it’s now become part of the English language. Merriam -Webster and dictionary are defining it as – ‘a person who has the power to influence many people, as through social media or traditional media.’


eCommerce giants are realising the importance of bricks and mortar to create meaningful interactions and experiences by creating a physical embodiment of their Brand.

Since 2007 internet users have increased from 1.17 billion to 4.39 billion. Bricks and mortar brands rushed to the internet launching eCommerce stores that have become savvier year on year. We’ve also seen quite the opposite with Pure Players heading to the high street. Ecommerce giant Amazon opened several convenience stores across America under the name AmazonGo and recently announced Amazon Counter, a partnership with Next in the UK. Customers can collect orders from within Next stores using a self-service system.

Online platform, YouTube, increased its physical presence on the high street opening across 9 cities worldwide. It seems that Pure Players are beginning to understand the importance of physical space to create meaningful interactions and experiences.

We worked with Virgin Holidays back in 2008 to create their first permanent physical store and later rolled the concept out to over 100 stores.


Reviews play a key role in decision making, combine this with the instant connectivity available at their fingertips and we’ve seen a hugely positive shift in customer service.

With more choice than ever before and more information available, reviews have firmly planted themselves into consumer decision psyche. They play a key role in helping people make up their mind and you can write a review for literally anything – shops, restaurants, hotels, carparks, dentists – any business with a google listing!

Combine this with the direct level of connectivity we are enjoying now with brands on social media, a place people love to complain, and brands are biting back, winning points with internet users everywhere. The age-old adage of the customer is always right is now not always the case.


People no longer feel the need to own media and are happy to pay monthly with no need to own anything outright.

Subscription streaming services have shaken up how we consume media. Spotify and Netflix have reigned supreme but other giants are entering the ring; Amazon, Apple and Disney. HMV & blockbuster have become obsolete as consumers no longer need to own media.

The success of these services is bleeding over into how people buy and there are monthly subscription services for everything; makeup, clothes, shaving kits, meals, coffee, beers and even cars. Volvo are about to launch the Polesta2 Electric Vehicle on a pay monthly basis. We are keeping an eye on how this change will shift other industries and the need for brands to have convenient locations for people to pick up, exchange, drop off or return items.


With more data available than ever before, brands are beginning to combine web like personalisation with physical space.

Brands want their fans to feel unique and provide them with personalised experiences. Over the last 12 years we’ve seen personalisation grow as technology improves, allowing brands to collect data at a personal level and market specifically to individuals. 86% of shoppers say that personalisation has an impact on what they purchase.

Amazon, the data king, uses powerful algorithms and A.I. to deliver a personalised homepage every time you visit their site or app. In 2012 Sainsbury’s delivered personalisation at store level, providing customers with a personalised coupon. Nike took it one step further with their Nike Live stores, a store that combines data from their NIkePlus app into a physical space providing all “athletes” with a truly personalised experience. An opportunity that was firmly secured and excellently executed.


The store format is changing and with it, ushering in a new sort of leisure shopping experience. The creation of hub community spaces looks to be the next big step for brands.

Bricks and mortar retail isn’t dying, its evolving and shopping is making a comeback as a leisure activity. Brands need to stop thinking online vs offline and think commerce. Looking at the new mega Primark, a destination in its own right, complete with 3 cafes a personalised printing station, Primarket Vinyl store and salon treatments. Experience and service led propositions have carved out their own place and same day click and collect services are just the start. Rapha operates ride with us events and Clubhouses (instead of shops) to build an engaged community.


41% of us believe that employees are the most credible source of information regarding their brand. Are brands maximising this opportunity?

Store staff hold the key to fantastic purchasing and fact-finding experiences for consumers. 81% of people would return to a store where they have received good service. By empowering employees to be more than sales associates, brands can reap benefits. The staff will become more engaged, happy and helpful, making it easier for them to delight customers. Three Live is an interesting idea that lets people live video-chat with their local store, watch and interact with new product demonstrations, making the customer journey seamless and even fun.


The challenge continues as brands fight for sustainability in a world where humans are increasingly looking for responsible products.

Environmental impact is now a big part of our consciousness and it seems you can’t do right for doing wrong. From packaging, to materials, to dyes, to waste. The challenge for brands is immense. And so is the opportunity. Brands cannot become sustainable overnight, but they can work towards it every day as can all of us.  We have partnered with Plastic Oceans UK and are actively improving our supply chain and material choices to reduce the impact we have on the environment.

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