Improving the retail experience. Could plants save our high streets

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24/07/2020 - Interior Design

There’s no doubt about it. Consumer behaviour is changing. They’re leaving the high street and buying online instead. Could the trend be reversed with the use of a few plants?
I’m a busy person and I love it. I love my job, I like meeting customers and I even like driving around the country to meet new people. I also like to relax on days off. COVID-19 has temporarily changed the way I shop but it's always been the case that to me, relaxing means getting away from the home office and heading off to see what’s happening outside of the world of work.

Sometimes that means a nice long walk with the dogs, I have always worked outdoors under the sky and surrounded by soil and plants. It’s where I’m at home. However, dog walking is a solitary sport so sometimes it’s good to nip into town and have mooch around the shops.

Or rather it used to be nice to mooch around the shops. Once I could pretty much guarantee I’d bump into an old school friend or a neighbour and have a impromptu chat. Nowadays not so much. The High Street has changed, it no longer has a community feel. It’s all glass and paving stones and it’s lost some of its soul. Even before social distancing, folks were always in a hurry, walking with heads down. COVID-19 has changed our view of shopping even more. The joy of browsing is dying and of course that makes merchandising, upselling and cross selling all the more difficult for retailers.

Plants change people’s moods and perceptions

One thing I have noticed about my days off is the way people behave differently on dog walks to in the high street. Dog walking, surrounded by greenery and fresh air, folks tend to stroll. Taking in their surroundings and perhaps stopping to take in the view, touch that plant, talk to other walkers (from a distance of course!) or stroke the ponies in the field. On the high street, it’s all about getting the job done – it’s almost like work!

What if the high street looked a little more like the countryside? People are intrinsically drawn to the colour green and to plants and flowers. It relaxes us, it helps us to think clearly and feel more sociable. Hence the current trend for biophilic design in offices.
If the high street – and the shops in it – were to make better use of plants, would more people stop, browse and buy that little bit more than they first planned? Would they linger longer over their coffee break? Sit down for lunch instead of grabbing a fast food meal and eating it on the run? I think they would.

shop interior benefiting from biophilic design

Using plants to improve the retail experience

The Green Envee team have been privileged to work on several projects in the retail environment. A recent collaboration with Scotscape produced this beautiful Café in the White City branch of H&M. It's a rather lovely place to hang out and share a meal with a friend, read a book or indulge in some people watching.

Pre-Covid, the restaurant has turned its host H&M store from a shop into a venue.

Could the biophilic concept be applied to the high street? Absolutely it could.

Stores today tend to have an open plan help staff to spot shoplifters but maybe instead – CCTV cameras could be disguised by planted arrangements. That creates a feeling of intimacy without compromising security.

Artificial plants and green wall panels could certainly assist with social distancing too. Use them to guide people around an in-store one way system or divide off sections of the store so that you can monitor the number of people in an area.

A beautiful flower arrangement or green wall in the fitting rooms is about self-indulgence and luxury. If people, especially ladies, feel pampered are they or are they not a) more likely to buy and b) more likely to become a repeat customer? Plus, a comfortable fitting room negates the need for clothes to be returned because they don’t fit.

Greenery in the staff room and around the tills could improve staff productivity too. 

Set the scene in window displays with trees, shrubs and plants.

In the precinct encourage people to slow their steps and maybe talk a while with green seating areas, stunning planters and mini gardens.

Keeping plants in good condition

Here’s the problem. Plants don’t necessarily love the harshly lit, air conditioned, heated conditions in the retail environment. Some species will enjoy it – but they still need to be cared for and watered. Unless of course….they are replica plants.
21st century Faux plants are incredibly realistic. They offer the same visual benefits of living plants, have a positive effect on mood but don’t need special conditions and they definitely don’t need watering.
Consumers are changing and the High Street needs to adapt to survive. Green Envee can help you to bring more plants into your retail area or restaurant. We collaborate with top designers and source beautifully crafted trees plants and planters for our teams to install. We can help you to make your high street a better place to shop and to socialise.

Want to know more?

Contact our team                            
Book one of our lunch and learn sessions
Browse some of our previous projects for inspiration