Shanghai Retail Concepts & Store Designs – A Glimpse into the Future

Photo by Harry Cunningham on Unsplash

Following last week’s look at the inspiring new cafe concept, FabCafe in Tokyo, this week we remain in the East – this time in Shanghai – where Retail Week recently reported on how Chinese retailers are taking their attention to detail and creativity in retail store design ‘to the next level’

Although nearly 6,000 miles away from the UK, the city features many familiar retailers. There are ten Marks and Spencers stores here plus many other staples of the UK High Street. What makes these stores so different from the those at home, however is the level of investment in retail.

Shanghai’s high streets offer an insight into how retail design might be in the UK if only the money were currently available – and perhaps a glimpse into the future of UK retail design, once we recover from the current economic crisis.

The contrast is clear: Shanghai flaunts an abundance of luxury stores which are all bigger, glossier and sleeker than much of what the UK’s retail centres have to offer right now.

At Balenciaga shoppers are offered a tantalising glimpse of the designer brand via an array of geometric shapes set into the window display, whilst inside the store, the retail interior reveals a skilful continuation of the geometric design through backlit recessed display shelves, architect-designed free-form plinths and tables – all created from quality materials showcasing the high-end brand’s new spring range.

Another great example of Shanghai’s decadence and creativity is the Alfred Dunhill home store on Huaihai Road. where shopping visits are by appointment only. The retail concept at this exceptional store reflects a “merchandising construct of colonial life….which looks and feels as if it could be the home of Alfred Dunhill, the luxury-loving gent who travelled a lot and established the well-known brand.”

Described as more members club than shop – some people might feel uncomfortable browsing through the selection of items dotted around the building as if placed there by Alfred himself, but for the 1,500 elite members who happily embrace the high-end concept , rewards flow – in the form of discounted merchandise and exclusive access to the first floor bar and restaurant.

All of Marks and Spencers’ ten Chinese stores are situated within the Shanghai area and are exemplary models of what every branch should be doing with their displays.
The upscale budget means that most stores have the very latest in M&S interior design – very similar to that used in the newest M&S stores in the UK and it’s working very well – Retail Week reported that the store they visited at the Golden Bell Plaza was very busy and they spotted a lot of shoppers clutching M&S bags out on the streets.

We can only hope that once the tough economic times are behind us, that this will also be the shape of things to come in the UK and that with new investment in retail we can match this trend in UK high streets.