07/06/2024 10:20 AM
Opinions on topical issues from thought leaders, columnists and editors.

By Wong Zhi Zhong

The digital era has revolutionised retail experiences, blending technology, changing consumer preferences, and bringing about cultural shifts. On the other hand, advancements in digital technology and online platforms have transformed commercial spaces, emphasising spatial narrative and collaboration to create immersive retail environments that connect with modern consumers.

Today’s consumers prioritise memorable experiences that transcend sensory boundaries and are aligned with their values and interests. By leveraging meticulously crafted themes, engaging visual elements and interactive experiences, retailers can transport customers to distinct realms, enriching their shopping journey and fostering stronger brand connections.

For example, through ongoing experimentation and exploration, Nike has consistently led the charge in innovating traditional retail limits. From heeding consumer feedback and ensuring top-notch service, Nike’s strategic focus is on crafting immersive retail environments with experience at the heart of the customer journey, capitalising on the potency of their brand, and integrating narrative elements in ways that distinguish them from their competitors.

Cross-industry collaborations

The growing trend of cross-industry collaborations with artists, designers and other creative professionals has opened up new avenues for retailers to craft unique retail experiences, setting them apart from competitors. These collaborations not only enhance the ambiance of retail environments but also provide consumers with opportunities to engage with brands in deeper and more meaningful ways.

Gentle Monster, the established South Korean luxury eyewear brand has gained recognition for its imaginative and surrealistic store designs, hosting complimentary art exhibitions in prestigious venues and positioning sunglasses as artistic statements in the realm of fashion and culture.

Gentle Monster, which unveiled its flagship store at The Exchange TRX, features captivating elements such as a dynamic blinking eye display, a striking hyper-realistic bison, and a compelling conceptual art installation. This distinctive design philosophy seamlessly blends artistic creativity with functional retail space, fostering immersive and meaningful brand-consumer interactions.

Gen Z prioritises experiences driven by technologies

Generation Z, raised in a digitally-driven world, prioritises experiences driven by technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and holographic projection over material possessions, emphasising authenticity and engagement in brand interactions. These technologies dissolve boundaries between physical and digital realms, capturing consumers’ attention for novel interactions with products and brands. Research conducted by Accenture indicates that 64 per cent of leading consumer brands are investing in immersive experiences to meet these preferences.

In the realm of retail interiors, IKEA Kreativ stands out as a revolutionary tool utilising both AR and VR technologies. Its AR technology overlays digital information onto physical products, giving consumers instant access to supplementary details. Through VR, users are transported to visualise living spaces in detail and their efficiency is enhanced as users can swiftly rearrange furniture, choose colours and plan layouts before execution – offering not only valuable insights into consumer preferences and behaviours but also time and effort saved. Hence, IKEA’s extensive product catalogue not only streamlines the planning process but also ensures that purchases align seamlessly with the overall design aesthetic and retail environment.

The evolution of retail spaces in the emergence of ‘metaverse worlds’ represents the industry’s capacity to succeed amidst technological advancements and changing consumer expectations. By harnessing technology, creativity and a customer-centric approach, retailers have effectively blended the physical and digital domains to establish compelling immersive environments. Maintaining flexibility, fostering innovation, and prioritising customer satisfaction will continue to be crucial for retailers to navigate the digital landscape successfully and excel in this digital era.


Wong Zhi Zhong is a Lecturer at The Design School in the Faculty of Innovation and Technology, Taylor’s University, and actively contributes to the digitalisation of the architecture industry.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of BERNAMA)