Store design innovations for the post-COVID customer

2021 08 July
12:00 pm Pacific / 3:00 pm Eastern

Store design innovations for the post-COVID customer

In 2020, we saw a shift in consumer behavior that impacted the traditional in-person shopping experience with increased online and phone interactions, curbside pickup, and product shortages. This summer, as consumers hope to return to stores, it’s more important than ever for retailers to design their physical locations with innovation in mind.

Store design innovation is a vital tool that helps set your business apart from other retailers by drawing customers into your store. With new technology, you can create an immersive environment where shoppers are able to explore products on their terms while still having access to knowledgeable staff members who can answer any questions they may have about those items or help them find what they need even faster than before. Your customers will be blown away by how much easier it is for them now!

In this webinar, Mark Schumacher, CEO of HFA, spoke with Jennifer, Magee, from Retail in the City, Beckey Waldrop, VP of Miller Waldrop Furniture, and Lael Thompson, COO of Home Collections Furniture, to discuss the retail store design trends for 2021 and beyond that will optimize the in-store experience.

Key takeaways from this webinar were:

  • Customers are intentional when they come to purchase because COVID-19 had people looking at their homes differently.
  • Customers want a personal touch and customization when they visit your store.
  • Make your showroom relaxing and welcoming so as not to overwhelm customers. Consider having a store greeter.
  • Open layout showrooms with clear sightlines tend to be more comfortable for shoppers.
  • With inventory shortages, you can embrace your additional space and still show a full store by allowing more space between product or even just move everything forward.
  • Change up your showroom quarterly by re-merchandising.
  • Creating collection-based in-store vignettes to match the way people shop online.
  • People can’t buy what they don’t know you sell. Using digital signage technology helps display products and options without taking up floor space.
  • In-store technology (like 3D visualization apps) can use room photos on a customer’s phone to help them visualize furniture in their home.
  • Utilize integrated technology as a communication tool to tell a story, not just sales promos.
  • Use your website to promote your in-store experience and the amenities you offer. This is especially important for a single-store operator.
  • The customer wants to have control, so design your store for self-guided shopping without a salesperson hovering or following the shopper around. Observe body language from a distance to know when to approach.
  • Mirror the customer’s actions as far as comfort level. (e.g., if they have a mask, the salesperson should wear a mask.) Train sales team on studying customer cues and how to best match the right salesperson to the customer.


Jennifer Magee – Founder & Creative Director, Retail in the City

Jennifer Magee is an innovative architect & designer who has over 15 years of experience in the home furnishings industry and has designed over 3 million square feet of retail space. Working almost exclusively with furniture & mattress retailers, she has an in-depth knowledge of how to layout stores to create better customer flow, improve the way merchandise is presented, and increase sales.

She is the founder & owner of Retail in the City, a boutique design firm offering a full range of retail design services from storefront design to interior design, branding, space planning, visual merchandising, signage, new store concepts & more. Her talented team of architects, interior designers & renderers create exterior & interior design packages so retailers can become more competitive in their home market or expand into new markets.

Beckey Waldrop – Vice President, Miller Waldrop Furniture

Beckey is the third-generation owner of Miller Waldrop Furniture and Decor, established in 1952. She has been honored to grow the business into 4 locations. Their store design includes technology, customer amenities, and outdoor spaces while keeping the customer journey in mind.

Lael Thompson – COO, Home Collections Furniture

Lael is the second generation owner of Home Collections Furniture in Aurora, Colorado. Lael has helped his family transform their unpainted furniture gallery into a full-line furniture store specializing in made-to-order products that bring out the best of the middle price point. His store is designed for a fun and informative customer experience utilizing technology in the showroom and throughout the shopping experience.