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After a disappointing Christmas for several UK retailers, particularly in the footwear market, how can the use of design help to entice shoppers back to the high-street chains?

Part of the problem for customers is being able to distinguish between their favourite shops. Mid-market Oxford Street in London is looking very samey. Designers need to give their clients something relevant and impactful, instead of relying on the same old formulas.
Simon Threadkell, Creative director, Fitch London

Today, customers are in complete control. They buy when and where they want. It has become harder to build and maintain a retail brand that’s constantly relevant to customers. High-street chains have to work with their customers to co-create their brands, and then develop engaging experiences that put the customer centre-stage.
Jim Thompson, Managing director, 20/20

When trading conditions get really tough, no amount of ‘cosmetic’ makeover can change things. This is when strategic design thinking must come to the fore and question the relevance of products and brands, then address their reinvention, repositioning or replacement.
Steve Collis, Joint managing director, JHP

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Customers are turning away from clone high streets and ‘cookie-cutter’ shops. They will be enticed back by those retailers that offer customisation, involvement, pampering and social responsibility, and encourage brand communities that merge the off-line and on-line. Design and technology can assist retailers to re-engage with customers by creating compelling stories for brands while developing shops that are playful, event-driven and always offering something new, such as Nike iD. The future will be about ‘surprise shopping’.
Michael Fern, Creative head of environments, Portland

When trading gets difficult, organisations have two choices: cut costs in line with reduced revenue and wait for better times to come (and hope they do before the money runs out), or invest to become more competitive under the new market conditions. Design provides limited advantage in the first scenario, but is essential to the second. Sadly, this second avenue also requires foresight and bravery, and is subsequently unpopular.
Colum Lowe, Managing director, Caulder Moore

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