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  • #Community
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  • #Retail
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  • #WorldDevelopments

2 October 2020 By TCHAI

The retail future we envision – by Tchai

We’ve been keeping tabs on the developments in the world and have been sharing these with you, to inspire you, through our Tchai journals, seminars, magazines and website.
We’ve shared some great social distancing solutions, design themes, how being bad could be good, how to build communities, become a sanctuary store, and create lasting experiences for your customers. And we imagine even more. In short, we’re here to tell you that there is a bright retail-future ahead of us.

Stronger together
We know the world will always change, and it’s changing even faster now. Retail is quickly moving into different experiences, different services, and onto digital locations. From an increase in AI and virtual stores, the face of retail is changing swiftly. And COVID-19 has only sped things along.
But we see some beautiful opportunities arise. People coming together to regenerate real social bonds to make a positive impact on the planet is one of them. People need other people and feel the urge to connect in a purpose-driven way.

Brands have a unique power: they can help to connect people locally through purpose and then connect those local groups globally. Burberry, for example, created a strong community with, as they call it, the first social retail store which includes its own social currency plan. And in hospitality, we see with Zoku that a niche and people-centered approach is key. This brand new hotel concept offers a home-work place for the working traveler. A relaxed place to work, but above all to live, and meet like-minded people while getting to know a new city.

Source & Credits, Image: Burberry – social retail store

New opportunities for retail
You may notice a few keywords that keep popping up. It’s because we truly believe that retail should focus on being extremely local and connect to purpose-committed target groups.

We wrote before that we foresee the growth of co-living around shared purposes, for example, by embracing green-living or being completely carbon-neutral, such as these Eco-villages, repurposing old buildings. Think flats with the size of hotel rooms apartments and communal city gardens, kitchens, laundry rooms, living rooms, cars… Co-living tackles the lack of space and the housing crisis while offering a few welcome side effects: it brings people together in a positive way, perhaps even solving urban loneliness.

Source & Credits, Image: Bridge

The rise of the sharing economy could also prove a real blessing. It opens up vast tracts of land for new uses, like office building, warehouses, parks, and carparks. When we think of the possibilities for retailers in these spaces, our inspiration goes through the roof. With an advanced backbone of online shopping, sharing rides, pick-up points, and autonomous delivery, we can use urban retail space to make genuine connections and create profound brand experiences. Not just being commercially present, but adding value to inner-city life with urban farming, co-creation and services that build communities and add to well-being.

Be present
Co-living and other communities will form locally, but it is up to brands to be present and of purpose in these small local hubs and connect them globally. Retail won’t have to root in high street shopping areas, but right in the middle of society, in communal spaces. Like the Iittala & Arabia Design Center. For this project, we helped create a ​genuine connection between the brand and its community by giving them its tableware factory ​and turning it into ​a local centre for ​creativity with a ​global appeal.

Source & Credits, Image: iittala

Looking ahead with you
As you can see, we have no problem envisioning a bright future for retail brands. Let us in on the challenges you’re facing right now, and we would love to lift you up with some out of the box and on-brand solutions. Sounds good? Drop us a line at


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