How changes in trade are affecting shopfitting

8 min.

How must stationary shops change to remain competitive in the face of online trade? And what does this mean for design concepts and materials in shopfitting? Managing Director of the Institut für Handelsforschung (IFH Köln), Dr. Kai Hudetz, describes two possible scenarios.

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products

Those developing contemporary design concepts and materials for shopfitting should prepare for two contrasting trends in stationary trade that are being accelerated by the coronavirus crisis: Enjoying the experience versus completing shopping quickly.

Why do we even still need shops? While stationary retail was forced to close during the coronavirus lockdown in spring 2020 and winter 2020/2021, we were able to purchase almost everything online and have it delivered to our doors: from toilet paper, to a new office chair to make working from home more comfortable. And once stores reopened, economic uncertainty, an obligation to wear masks and distancing rules suppressed the desire to buy. In addition to this, the desertion of city centers has been progressing for years, while online shopping is booming. Stationary retail needs new approaches, this is certain!

Changes in shopfitting

Managing Director of the IFH Köln, Dr. Kai Hudetz, described and classed two possible situations for the future of stationary trade exclusively for PLEXIGLAS®. This will also result in changes to shopfitting, along with new requirements for the materials used.

PLEXIGLAS® has diverse properties which contribute to shopfittings that entice people to buy in shops.


The Institut für Handelsforschung is an internationally renowned market research and consulting firm for the retail sector. As an interface between economy and science, the IFH KÖLN provides substantiated market analyses and provides consultation on contemporary business models.

Scenario 1: Stationary trade needs showrooms

The theory:
Experience, advice, service – in the future, stationary trade will put the spotlight more on its advantages over online trade in order to entice customers into the shops. Alongside personal advice, shops will improve the experience through striking shopfitting changes, becoming showrooms for high-quality goods. Shops that provide an experience and services generate inspiration and expertise. Shoppers can discover attractive products here and make impulse buys. Instead of extensive online research, they can speak in person to an employee and decide between comparable products.

Typical product groups:
Clothing and shoes, books, furnishings, gifts, electronic goods

Staff is the most important unique selling point compared to online trading. “However, the role must change and move away from being a salesperson and more towards a consultant,” says Hudetz. Other benefits include the haptics, visualization and the experience: Customers can view products first hand, pick them up, touch them and try them on. The goods are also immediately available, without the stress of order processes and parcel delivery.

Stationary shops can also use the benefits of the internet as well. According to Hudetz, there is a trend of linking online and offline elements, for example, customers can try on a piece of clothing in a shop, scan a QR code, pay for the article online and have it delivered directly to their door.

Goods presentation:
“Stationary trade must invest more strongly in the experience and show the goods in a better light, for example using augmented reality,” thinks Hudetz. Higher-quality shopfitting elements are also necessary, as they create a more attractive, qualitative and functional atmosphere. Flexible elements also enable the shop design to be changed quickly. This requires movable and lightweight elements which are cleanly designed and have an appealing appearance.

PLEXIGLAS® provides shopfitters with great freedom when designing spectacular showrooms, thanks to its light weight and the fact it is very easy to process – for example for extraordinary shelves and displays with high-gloss, scratch-resistant coated surfaces, or for back-lit counter fronts. In addition, the original from POLYVANTIS is not only available in a wide range of colors, but can also be dyed in any trend color and is suitable for digital printing.

Diversity in shopfitting

PLEXIGLAS® offers numerous shapes, colors, surfaces and intelligent functions and is also easy to process. It can be used to design unique displays for effectively presenting goods.

Discover the diverse design options for shopfitting in our PLEXIGLAS® for furniture and interior fitting brochure.

Benefits of this scenario:
“People will rediscover their desire to go shopping in the city, and combine it with other activities,” forecasts Hudetz. However, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated developments which were already emerging. Even before the pandemic, many stationary shops suffered from a lack of attractiveness. “The requirements on service and experience as factors are increasing,” says Hudetz, emphasizing: “The consultation skills and the personal touch are areas of expertise that the stationary trade sector must not forfeit.”


Your opinion:

Are the experience as a whole and service in the stationary retail sector becoming more important?

Our readers' assessment:





Wow effects in shopfitting

Thanks to its diverse properties and shapes, PLEXIGLAS®, the original acrylic glass by POLYVANTIS, creates unique accents in shopfitting. Title: “instagrammable”!

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products

Designing with light

Illuminated areas with a cover made from PLEXIGLAS® LED for backlighting create a pleasant environment. For example on counters or in changing rooms.

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products

Elegant displays

Thanks to the almost unlimited design options, PLEXIGLAS® can be used to create extraordinary displays. The fantastic gloss and depth effects of PLEXIGLAS® Hi-Gloss mean this product is particularly well suited here. PLEXIGLAS® variants enhanced with scratch-resistant coatings are available for particularly high demands on the surfaces.

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products

Green trend

Depending on the light transmittance and surface structure, PLEXIGLAS® can be used to achieve different effects, for example in combination with plants, a current trend in interior design.

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products

Diversity of shapes

PLEXIGLAS® tubes and rods with different diameters are suitable for displays, goods containers or lighting elements.

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products

Scenario 2: Self-service stores are becoming increasingly popular

The theory:
Stationary retail increasingly relies on automation in order to ensure a fast and convenient availability of products: Self-service stores which can be accessed around the clock will enable contactless shopping without staff. Shoppers simply take the desired products, scan these themselves and pay without cash. A smartphone app or customer card can be used to provide access to the shop, and enable the purchasing and payment processes.

Self-service stores are great for buying supplies: Customers want to purchase the everyday things they need quickly and without having to wait in line or adhere to strict opening hours. Suitable locations for these types of shop would be areas with high foot traffic, such as city centers, train stations or airports. Self-service stores are also potentially viable in more rural areas, thereby enabling people to purchase the products that fulfill their basic needs.

Typical product groups:
Food, luxury foods, household goods, drugstore items

24/7 operation, time-saving and ease of use for customers, not including the demand for contactless shopping which became relevant during the pandemic.

Goods presentation:
Room design and goods presentation must be clear and concise. This requires simple navigation through the store, clear signage and concise displays in which the goods are well-presented. The materials installed at self-service counters must be particularly stable and robust, as well as easy to clean.

PLEXIGLAS® Optical HC is ideal for surfaces which are subject to intense stress in shopfitting. With its scratch-resistant coating, it combines an elegant look and feel with the highest degree of robustness. The material is easy to print on and can therefore be used for individual and robust designs.

Benefits of this scenario:
The hygiene measures implemented during the coronavirus crisis have resulted in greater acceptance for cashless payments, even for small amounts at a bakery, for example. This will further strengthen the willingness to use self-service stores. These stores were already becoming popular even before the pandemic came, as they extend the opening hours without additional staff costs and enable small store areas to be operated efficiently and at low cost.


What is your opinion?

Are self-service stores becoming more important in the stationary retail sector?

Our readers' assessment:





Summary from the trade expert

“Scenarios 1 and 2 do not exclude each other,” says trade expert, Dr. Hudetz. “They differ based on the context, type of customer and the factor of time.” He is convinced that traditional order processes must be replaced. “The customers see something and want to have it as quickly as possible. A combination of showroom and an easy online ordering process is conceivable.”

Hudetz refers to the new “fashion connect” concept which clothing chain bonprix is testing in Hamburg: Customers check into the store via an app and are accompanied by a digital shopping assistant. They can scan the codes of their desired clothes via the app, select the size and possibly the color, and have the articles brought to them in the changing room.

There are also concepts which combine self-service stores with analog elements. The organic supermarket chain, tegut, is currently testing “teo” in Fulda; an automated miniature supermarket with 950 articles over an area of 50 square meters. Customers can use an app or customer card to access the shop, scan products and pay.

Analog offers like a bicycle repair shop and a bookshelf for swapping books are attached to the shop. With this “stationary answer to online shopping”, tegut aims to strengthen local supply, while also promoting digital trade. The “teo” concept was awarded the Innovationspreis 2020 (Innovation Prize) by the German Retail Federation (HDE).

Link-Tip: The coronavirus and the consequences

Current figures, surveys and studies on consumer behavior during the coronavirus pandemic will be published on the IFH KÖLN homepage https://corona.­

“fashion connect”

Fashion chain bonprix is piloting its new “fashion connect” retail concept in a store in Hamburg. This approach combines the benefits of stationary trade and online shopping. Customers check into the store using an app and use the app as a digital shopping assistant.

© bonprix / M. Kielmann

“fashion connect”

Contemporary shopfitting: “Every piece of clothing and every accessory are presented in inspirational topic worlds only once. This method is known as one-item presentation and lends the store a clear and generous showroom character,” says the bonprix concept.

© bonprix / M. Kielmann

“fashion connect”

Customers use the app to scan the desired article and then select the size. The clothes are stored in a virtual shopping bag and brought directly to the pleasantly designed changing room.

© bonprix / M. Kielmann

Access supplies around the clock at teo:

tegut aims to establish automated miniature supermarkets as innovative local suppliers under the name teo.

© tegut… gute Lebensmittel GmbH & Co. KG; Björn Friedrich

We are interested in your assessment:

Which scenario will play a greater role in the future?

Our readers' assessment:

ø =

1 star: Experience and Service - 5 stars: Self-service

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