Rethinking the Retail Experience - From Technology to Social Engagement
The expression “going shopping” suggests an activity that supports people's need to be social. Participating in the retail experience allows for that need to be fulfilled. Shopping provides movement in a community and interest in the urban context. Large shopping centers, such as malls, are tasked with engaging customers and creating an experience convenient and personal enough for them to want to return. However, shopping in recent generations has started to redefine itself. The lack of convenience, outdated design standards, and minimal enticing experiences in large physical retail stores have pushed users to resort to other methods of shopping. Online shopping has become increasingly popular because of its convenience, efficiency, and flexibility. Because of this, many consumers have made online shopping their go-to way of purchasing goods. Yet, something is missing in the virtual world of online retail. Shopping in physical spaces allows for a connection to the community, it builds interpersonal skills, and it offers many people the opportunity for human contact which is so important to our emotional well-being. We now wonder, how can retailers consider new and innovative ways to draw customers back into their stores, and is there an alternative to the often isolated condition of online shopping? Through the research of in-person retail, online retail, human experience, current health and safety standards, and the exploration of case studies, The Country Club Plaza and Area 15 can the architect, through design, help retailers to make the fulfillment of in-person shopping in settings like the mall, a desirable experience once again?