How design innovations are helping defy today’s high street challenges

It’s no secret that today’s high street faces many challenges, not least high rents and business rates, as well as the continued growth of online shopping. We have witnessed a number of household names succumb to current market conditions, but the picture isn’t as bleak as it may seem and some retailers are successfully bucking this trend.

Experience is everything

One major factor providing customers with choice to rival the internet is their shopping experience. Not only that, but store design is being increasingly influenced by both ethical concerns and technological advances.

At Aptus we have had the pleasure of working with a number of forward-thinking retailers who are defying the odds. A great example is the expanding independent coffee retailer 200 Degrees, which has developed a number of stores incorporating barista schools, where within its distinctively homely interior, bespoke training can be offered for everyone from novices in the hospitality trade to private groups looking for an interesting day out. They are also incorporating pop-up retail experiences into some of their coffee shops.

Similarly, cosmetics chain Lush’s most recent innovation is the ‘naked’ store, which Aptus fitted out in Manchester earlier this year. The new ‘naked’ concept store, sees its handmade products displayed and sold without plastic packaging in a UK first, supported by a dedicated app. This has helped conscious consumers to appreciate not only that Lush stores are a veritable feast for the senses to enjoy, but that it is looking beyond its pockets by considering issues affecting us all.

More than a one-stop shop

Brands, whether large and established, like Lush, or smaller and independent, like 200 Degrees, are working hard to make shopping an even more pleasurable pastime, by creating beautiful and relaxed spaces which provide memorable and ‘instagrammable’ experiences.

Increasingly, people are growing more protective, not only of their cash but also their time. Those organisations managing to navigate the difficulties facing the retail sector are mindful of this, and are moving beyond the simple supply of merchandise and into the provision of a lifestyle. Consumers are looking for more wholesome experiences which include entertainment for all the family, food & drink, and socialising as well as browsing. In this way, brands are providing a new kind of value for money at a time in which consumers are looking to make memories as well as acquire possessions.

Aptus is proud to be part of this movement, helping clients like Lush and 200 Degrees to offer not only quality products, but entertainment, within enjoyable, tactile environments that make shoppers want to linger for longer, whether they choose to make their final purchase in store or online.

Real thought can help ride the storm

Interior design in retail is nothing if not adaptable, and taking the time to design and build a bespoke space focused on the demands of today’s ever more discerning consumers can pay dividends in the tough climate of the high street. Adapting the way products are displayed to enhance customer engagement, offering a greater mix of experiences, effective use of in-store technology and ethical initiatives are all ways a retailer can put real thought into its store design. Ongoing improvement in retail design and fit-out has evolved beyond simple efficiency savings and those brands who are demonstrating their continual commitment to be better are those that will grow.

For more information about our fit-out services, or to chat about your interior design needs, contact or