Telling a story that the customer can understand and perceive is one of the most common marketing resources, to which storytelling and visual merchandising give a new dimension.

Everyone is aware of the importance of storytelling in the retail sector, but how many good examples can we find today? 

We are talking about going beyond mere eye-catching design. Storytelling in retail design is the commitment to capture the consumer through a visual narrative, in which history, tradition, values and the company’s business idea are the main protagonists. 


What is storytelling?

The art of storytelling. That is, as a central idea, the concept of Storytelling. It is one of the most powerful strategies in good marketing planning: telling stories that create an impact on the consumer’s mind and connect directly with them. 

If we turn this term around and talk about visual storytelling, we come across the art of storytelling, but about a brand, through images and visual media. In other words: the search for the effectiveness of images as elements that facilitate the creation of persistent memories over time.

Nowadays, stories move the world, which is why they are a clear trend in retail marketing. Thus, the use of narratives or stories in retail marketing helps us to convince the customer to choose our product, to remain loyal to it and to feel part of something. In this way, we manage to connect people by generating emotions and experiences, capturing the consumer’s attention in an environment of intoxication and excessive media noise.



Visual storytelling in the retail sector

The retail industry has realised that knowing how to tell a good story, a story that appeals to feelings, helps to occupy the place that the whole sector is always looking for: the heart of the customers. Thanks to this technique, we can let people know what a company is like, what values it is based on and what exactly makes it different. 


It is essential to define a good creativity strategy at the commercial spaces, determining what story we will transmit and how, the channels we will use to surprise and create loyalty among our consumers…


It is important, especially at the present time, that our message is adapted to digital and traditional platforms, as well as to the point of sale itself. 

Differentiation through emotions is another crucial element; getting our identifying aspects and values right when establishing our strategy and applying it physically in shops and shop windows.





How to start storytelling in retail?

To go for storytelling in retail, the first thing to do is to identify what our story/idea is as a brand/retailer, as well as asking ourselves the following questions and answering them:

  • What message do we want to convey? 
  • What causes do we believe in and support? 
  • Is there something unique about our products? 
  • Do we have an ethical or sustainability mission? 
  • Are customers doing or achieving interesting things with our products? 
  • What extra services or experiences do we offer to customers? 
  • Do we have a long and interesting history behind us? 
  • What’s behind our shop designs and visual merchandising?


Make your customers part of your story.


Once you know what your story and idea is, you need to tell it. You need to tell people what the product or service you offer will do for them, how it will help them, how it can enable them to overcome challenges, how it can improve their lives, what it means to buy it, added benefits… In short, make your customers part of your story.


Where to use Visual Storytelling?

Logically, the retail sector should get involved in this concept by putting it into practice first in shop windows and façades, and then inside the shops.

Precisely the shop window, often being the first major point of physical connection with customers, is the perfect setting to tell a real, clear and faithful story of the brand, with which we can achieve benefits such as:


  • Create empathy 
  • Stir up emotions
  • Connect with the audience
  • Humanise the brand


This technique is a real gold mine for producing content on social networks, which are ultimately the most visual and ideal platforms for visual storytelling. Not forgetting that it is also very valuable for e-commerce when it comes to presenting the products of an online shop. 



Storytelling & storyfeeling in retailing

The fact that storytelling is a growing trend in retail is something that no one is unaware of. And so is storyfeeling, i.e. the importance of stories in order to shock, to transmit things and to generate feelings in the consumer. Without going any further, and according to an article by Wolter Loeb, a retail specialist and contributor to Forbes, “approximately 95% of purchasing decisions are guided by instinct“. In other words, it is extremely important to create a story that creates a lasting connection with the customer and paves the way for a future based on trust.

Anyway, making an emotional and unique connection with users is no easy matter. The focus must be on engaging them so that they find it easier to remember our brand. To achieve this, storytelling acts as a retail loudspeaker, and its effectiveness depends on both what is told and how it is told. 




Storytelling in retail design: differentiating from the competition

There are some key points to bear in mind when it comes to the design of storytelling spaces in retail:

  • Storytelling in retail design appeals to everything; the design, size of the building, location….
  • All the furniture in the shop is part of the story.
  • Contrast, colour and customer traffic control inside and/or outside the shop can be used to direct a person to the most important parts of the store.
  • Sometimes, it is better to hint than to overtly state, especially in product displays, promotion policy, etc.
  • Every shop tells us a story and this story does not have to be told 100%, as we perceive it through the senses: its interior design, the decoration, the materials used, the colour, the lighting, the music, the way the staff attends you…
  • Storytelling does not necessarily have to be a “visual narrative story”. Conceptually you can create it however you want, whether it is text, a focus on sensations, very or not very descriptive images…
  • Remember that the majority of brands reinforce their storytelling through their branding: logo, colours, typography, etc.


At CAAD, a commercial interior design studio in Barcelona expert in the design of commercial spaces, with 45 years dedicated to creating retail design experiences, we can help you stand out from the competition by applying the best storytelling techniques to your commercial space. For more information, do not hesitate to contact us.



Case studies of spaces/shops that are committed to storytelling


Web-3 Café – Paris (France)

The other way round. If the retail sector is transferring its design ideas from the physical world to the metaverse, ‘Web-3 Café’ comes along and turns the tables. 

This space is inspired by the world of gaming in the metaverse, but brought to physical reality, with furniture for sale both inside and outside the digital world. It is a total disruption with pixelated interior design inspired by the first video games on the market.


© Copyright. Crosby Studios



Bibu Pet Store – Guangzhou (China)

Stanley Kubrick, China and pets? Yes, this mix is more possible than you think, and we find it in the design of the Bibu Pet Store, which combines commercial and community functions.

In China, spatial design and the world of pets is gaining ground by leaps and bounds. The love that the brilliant director Stanley Kubrick had for his pets (cats and dogs) is palpable in this futuristic pet space clearly inspired by his famous film 2001 Space Odyssey. 

A science fiction establishment with an off-white, forest green and slate blue colour palette, LED lighting and retro-futuristic furniture, in which the Tulip chairs have been rescued.





Avenue & Son – Shanghai (China)

The novelties in storytelling and retail continue in China, undoubtedly the cradle of modernism and the current avant-garde as far as design is concerned. In this case, we highlight ‘Avenue & Son’, founded in 2014 by four professional skateboarders from Shanghai, which has now reached a new level with a striking independent shop that, among other things, has a mini skate park of marble in the same access. 

There is also a bar where you can have a drink while you enjoy a few good tricks on your skateboard – amazing! The same marble takes centre stage inside the shop with an imposing board display ramp and a gigantic screen where the brand’s corporate videos are shown. Skateboarders can also enter and exit the shop on their skateboards and plank on the indoor ramp.



© Copyright. SFAP



665ºF – Singapore

This restaurant in Singapore creates the illusion for its customers that they are inside a wine cellar, but 38 storeys high.

A luxurious interior design where we highlight the entrance with its triple brick arch, the vaulted ceiling of the sky blue dining room with symmetrical wooden profiles and above all the spectacular views of the city and the sea. A memorable dining experience.  


© Copyright. André Fu Studio



Newcomer Wines – London (UK)

After a successful pop-up in London’s Boxpark, Newcomer Wines opened its first permanent shop/bar in Dalston last year. 

The company specialises in Austrian wines (with the largest selection in the UK), working directly with the winemakers to offer customers the best products. 

This commitment is reflected in the bar-shop, where customers can choose from over 200 wines to drink, as well as sample food from local Austrian producers. It is more like a bar than a shop, which adds an experiential element: you can easily go to Newcomer Wines just to have a drink and then lose yourself in the history of the shop, and of course take some bottles home with you. Local products, tradition, authenticity and a full understanding of the business idea in the same space. 





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