MG2’s MJ Munsell On The Direction Of The Retail Experience

January 22, 2018

Retail is becoming increasingly experiential across the country. That is true in Seattle as well, but the city has unique challenges when it comes to making retail work in certain settings.

MG2 principal MJ Munsell

MG2 principal MJ Munsell’s expertise centers around retail and how to create the type of environment that draws in customers. As the company’s retail market design leader, she sets the design strategy and direction to grow client brands and businesses. Munsell answered Bisnow’s questions about how retail is changing and what she anticipates lies ahead.

Bisnow: How is experiential retail becoming a factor in how retail stores and centers are designed?

Munsell: By definition, retail should always be experiential. The problem with retail pre-recession is that we, as consumers, lowered the bar so low we would buy anything, from anyone, in environments that brought little value to our lives. Experiential retail is what any form of retail should be. It is the marketplace and platform that bring a brand, product, adviser and customer together in a multi-sensory moment. Retail should always be about change, about advice and testing, about emotion and creativity.

Now that we, as consumers, have choices of making purchases anytime and anywhere, our expectations for the brick-and-mortar experience are higher. The experience must be worth our time and effort, with a clear value proposition for the expenditure of time and money.

MG2 principal MJ Munsell. Photo by Magda Biernat Photography.

Bisnow: What is the next thing on the horizon?

Munsell: We can expect to see the following in the retail landscape:

  • Short-term leases: Enabling retailers to be flexible in locations and formats. This does present new challenges for the management and leasing of retail developments.
  • Continued store closures: Retailers are becoming more selective about locations. Underperforming stores will continue to close, and the massive store openings seen by retail brands will slow … This will continue to be a challenge for malls.
  • Multiple formats and more selective retailers: Retailers will test new formats (express, urban, full-service and specific location assortments) to reach customers in a variety of ways. Retailers who are expanding are more discerning — more demanding of landlords, quality of the mall experience and distribution of stores.
  • Flexible formats: To meet the changing needs of today’s consumer and marketplace, retail environments need to be flexible, [such as] being adaptable to…

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