In retail everything tells a story, and if you get the smallest thing wrong the spell can be broken. To entrench loyalty and gain share of mind, retailers are increasingly moving back to telling their stories about what makes them unique and why they make a difference in your life.

This was very evident on the Westfield Retail Study Tour where I saw retailer after retailer find new and engaging ways to bring to life their story. The stories that resonated the strongest were typically the ones that were based on truth and consistent execution at every touchpoint whether it was analogue or digital.

Dovetailing into this is another trend-term coined by retail trend spotters Echochamber; Anti-Big, to describe how smart retailers are using their environments and storytelling prowess to build trust and authenticity into their brands. Shying away from the cookie-cutter clones of their predecessors, these stores offer localised experiences, with vibrancy and eclecticism. Among the giants joining the Anti-Big revolution are Tesco and Urban Outfitters.

One of the UK’s biggest and best supermarket retailer, Tesco’s new look Watford store opened in late 2013 bringing together new attributes including a restaurant, Harris + Hoole coffee shop, Euphorium Bakery and The Bakery Project. An emphasis on fresh foods, food to go and standard supermarket fare is supplemented with a community space for yoga and baby gym.  Defying the drudgery of supermarket shopping, this is a space in which, quite believably you might actually want to meet family and friends. 

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Instore bakery emporium

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Quite a different café experience – feels a bit like home

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Still retaining some of the global feel of the brand

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Fishmonger full of freshness

Urban Outfitters embraces Anti-Big by having no two stores even remotely the same.  A funky fashion retailer with accessories, homewares and widgets in styles ranging from vintage to hippy with an injection of indie and on-trend, they define cues from their local environment, blend it with their brand and deliver it in a way that allows the product to pop in an environment that makes you want to linger.

In Stockholm an abandoned cinema from years gone by has been transformed into a shopping mecca.  Retaining original features, the store works the classic architecture of the building. The old stage has become a centrepiece containing the fitting rooms.  Sky high ceilings and elaborate chandeliers are complemented with posters featuring shopper blogs.  Melding old with new this is a memorable retail experience. 

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Abandoned theatre re-created into a shopping mecca; Stockholm Sweden

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No two stores appear the same 

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Urban Outfitters, Stockholm Sweden – the old stage now acts as a change room

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Urban Outfitters Camden Market

Whilst we are yet to see significant Anti-Big sentiments among local retailers there is an increasing trend to instil a sense of ‘Glocality’ to the shopping experience; a local feel to the global brand implementation. Retailers would do well to highlight their local sourcing stories and how they weave themselves into the fabric of their local trading area.  When was the last time you preferred a big retail shopping experience over a locally curated and crafted one?

Credits: Echochamber London, Identica.co.uk, thegrocer.co.uk, groceryinsight.co.uk, Urban Outfitters

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