Bricks and Clicks: How Instagram is Shaping Offline Retail by Raluca Gaina C'19 W'19

We live in a day and age where people can pick up their phone, go on a website, look for a shirt and purchase it—all in less than five minutes. Recent surveys show that 51% of Americans prefer to shop online rather than in store, which has proven to be a challenge for offline retailers. Stores have been trying to come up with solutions to persuade customers to visit their offline locations. They are now working with architects, interior designers and marketing teams to develop and improve their brick-and-mortar stores. It is not enough for stores to just sell merchandise – they must now also sell stories and experiences to the consumers.


Store design and personalized items have developed significantly over the years, catching the eyes of the keenest Instagrammers, who are in search for the next “hot-spots” to photograph. Stores all over Europe, Asia and US have been changing their storefronts to add more color, drawings, geometrical patterns and mirrors in order to become the perfect backgrounds for photos.


Supreme, an American skateboarding shop and clothing brand, recently installed a wooden skateboarding bowl inside their Brooklyn store, with people having to queue outside to access the space and post the moment on Instagram. This year, Gucci released its DIY (Do It Yourself) Service, where customers can personalize their jackets, bags and sneakers with initials, patterns or symbols, as a way of self-expression. Rebecca Minkoff’s SoHo showroom has an inspirational wall, where people can write their stories in celebration of the #IAmMany collection. In Yangzhou, the walls, ceiling and floors of the Zhongshuge bookshop turn into an optical illusion of a cylindrical tunnel. London’s Selfridges, a high-end department store, has become a top attraction due to the Aubaine Café, where people can take photos with the flower-covered ceiling after a long shopping day.


In the future, retailers not only have to consider the quality and price of their products; they will also create a space where design, art and creativity come together to produce the perfect Instagram post.