The Future of Cities: how urbanisation will reshape retail

18th Sep 2019

Trends, we follow them for fashion, the economy but not necessarily for retail. The past decade has been a turbulent time for the retail sector. Still adjusting to the rise of e-commerce and the death of the high street, retail is now facing one more challenge; urbanisation.


As the world becomes increasingly more urban, there is becoming a larger focus on cities. By 2020, it is predicted that over 90% of the UK’s population will live in a city, and with it comes a shift in the function of retail. The social, economical and technical shifts accompanying this rapid urbanisation impact all areas of retail- from store format, to logistics to consumer experience.


With urbanisation comes a new era of consumers, those who are diverse, fast-paced, digitally savvy and used to having the world at their fingertips on their smartphones. In turn, retail faces an ever-increasing competitive landscape requires retailers to re-think how to engage with their customers. At Quantum4 we’ve already discussed the idea of ‘pop-ups’ and immersing customers in an experience, yet will this be enough in the long-term?


Retailers need to focus on creating real value for consumers, how can they interact with customers living in a rapidly changing city climate. The future of cities is opportune with retailers, and brands need to evolve with the changing pace and fluidity of their consumers’ lifestyle.


Store format is one way retailers can develop with urbanisation. Few retailers will be able to afford the luxury of using hundreds of square feet for display, and even if they could, it is not enough to attract customers. Retailers need to be innovative in their ideas to reach their full potential of their space and how they integrate themselves into the evolution of a city. For example, London created the world’s first ‘smart street’, just a stone’s throw from Oxford Circus which uses the kinetic energy of the shoppers’ footsteps to power the street. An app then connects consumers on the street to educate them, whilst promotes local stores offers to entice them in. This is just one example of how retailers have adapted to London’s ecosystem, delivering a meaningful contribution to the overall wellbeing of the city.


Urbanisation will require brands to collaborate and rethink how they interact with customer as cities develop. At Quantum 4 we believe in challenging the industry norms and working with retailers to develop and adapt, creating visually stunning and exciting retail experiences. As urban areas change, retailers need to develop their strategies in line with urbanisation; ultimately positioning themselves as centres of new, urban hubs.


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