Retail Design : Impacting on society


Much has been written about the social role that art and design play in our communities, but few have focused on Retail Design and its relevance. Design plays a major part in our everyday lives. We are surrounded by objects produced as a result of someone else’s designs. Whilst the general public might not consciously know it or value it, we as designers see the real impact. Retail Design is no different to any other design discipline when in comes to people’s perception, but it is highly relevant to the economy and the general success of modern society.

The retail industry exists to provide goods and services necessary for needs of all kinds. The industry is responsible for a huge portion of employment and financial interests. According to Shopping Centre Council of Australia, as at May 2018, 10.2% of the Australian workforce was employed by the Retail Trade sector, two thirds of these were working in shopping centres. Roy Morgan Research predicted that retail spending during the 2018 Christmas season would be $51.5 billion (1). This means there are millions of us spending each and every day. What a powerful opportunity each of those consumers could bring to the industry if we executed our role as designers effectively.

We live in a technology rich society where online shopping is easier than ever before, and will only continue to expand. It’s no shock to retail developers, retailers and designers to know that good retail design can be the key to attracting consumers to physical shops. When you consider that we all visit shopping centres potentially multiple times a week, these spaces have the privileged opportunity to make a lasting impression on us. These spaces serve not only a business agenda, they influence a vital community service as people meet, work, eat and create shared experiences there. In this context, Retail Design is fundamental to the development of the community we so desperately crave.

As curators of these integral spaces, we need to be doing more than simply enhancing the mood and bolstering impulse buys. Designers and retail developers need to be accountable for creating engagement, safety, comfort, community, compassion, success for the consumer as well as the business. We can’t be self-aggrandising with this function & responsibility. More and more people are looking to shop with retail brands who support charities or use responsible sourcing & manufacturing. The customer wants to buy into the environment they shop in. This is further evidenced in @Scentre Group’s new developments around the simplest of designs for thoughtful coffee cup disposal, recently highlighted in an earlier linkedIn post.

We can use our designer superhero powers to enlighten the customer to these wonderful possibilities!

Whether the consumer knows it or not, they will continue to be influenced by the design around them. Design’s vital role in creating spaces that drive consumers, to be compassionate, empathetic, just, and proud, will continue too. A great retail designer is more significant, and more relevant than ever. Your business might be worth $1,000 or a $1,000,000,000, but your need for a great retail designer is equally important…a retail designer committed to strengthening an authentic society.