Future of Retail

Project Brief

Space Doctors, in the UK, uses semiotics and cultural insight to solve problems for brands and businesses. They collaborated with Quicksand on a project for a global consumer good company to understand patterns and formats for the future of shopping. The goal was to identify interesting stories in Delhi and Bangalore of diverse shopping environments, especially with innovations that attempted to frame a new experience for the shopper.


Our research context ranged from old-school neighbourhood coffeeshops and street vendors to more modern niche brands that were creating a larger experience for their shoppers, beyond goods. We also covered new and emerging formats like online shops that provided specialised services. It was also interesting to document both old and new formats that built on ideas of sustainability and local community. What emerged was the extremely diverse nature of the retail ecosystem in Indian cities- the same consumer could be shopping in a high-end luxury brand flagship store as well as a hole-in-the-wall neighbourhood store that provides a knowledgeable local customised service. Across these formats, the need for understanding their customers and offering an experience that served their needs, irrespective of the nature of goods. There seemed to be ample space for all kinds of formats, as long as they were able to provide an authentic, intimate experience that made sense to customers.

The Quicksand team also documented personal stories of inspiration around shopping via Space Doctors' custom app, called Cymbol and participated in discussions around emerging patterns of retail encounters.

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