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Clicks to Bricks

Vancouver-based Shoes.com approached DIALOG with a unique challenge: help a retailer with a successful online presence enter the physical retail sphere in a movement known as “click-to-brick”.

Toronto

Virtual to Reality

The overarching challenge of transitioning an online retailer to a physical storefront prompted three questions that provoked the designers to rethink the retail space. First and foremost was the question of how to translate a brand’s virtual offering into a physical manifestation of the online experience. Second, the question of how the space could be continuously engaging, encouraging repeat visitors over time. Third, the question of how a physical location could add value for its customers that goes above and beyond the online experience.

A Solution That Fits Like a….. Shoe

These design challenges were identified, and eventually solved by working collaboratively with the retailer. The designers gained a deep understanding of how Shoes.com’s website curated the experience of shopping in a way that heightened the customer experience. Later, they would employ a UX tactic to emulate and expand upon this same experience in the physical world. The resulting bricks-and-mortar store, located on the ever trendsetting and vibrant Queen Street West, juxtaposes the modern brand identity of Shoes.com with Toronto’s heritage architecture, providing shoppers with their first-ever opportunity to touch, try, and play – to take their experience beyond online shopping.

Navigating the Shopping Experience

Paying heed to the online presence of the company, DIALOG designed Shoes.com’s first retail location as an extension of the retailer’s website. The space is divided into three distinct zones. At the front of the space the "homepage" greets shoppers. Shoes.com’s brand identity is reinforced through graphic floor applications and custom furniture upholstered in shoe materials. The mirror-clad room reflects itself and pays homage to the infinite quality of the web. The secondary space, the “dressing room”, is grounded by a hill of modular custom tables whose wireframe structures add a graphic sense to the centre of the space. Here, the perimeter is divided into nine bays which are delineated by floor-to-ceiling millwork. Each bay highlights a current brand represented by Shoes.com and is constantly changing. The returning customer’s experience is never the same, as individual brands can immediately alter the look and feel of the space. Thus, the store is continuously evolving, even as it maintains the consistent brand presence Shoes.com desires. At the rear of the store, a third space is known as the “editor’s lounge”. It houses a large turquoise bar – a nod to Shoes.com online branding. The bar acts as a centrepiece to the space; providing a POS station, a computer hub for customers to order shoes, and a coffee bar for the community. The space facilitates social interaction, where an experiential environment encourages gathering and lingering with friends. Thus, the shop becomes a destination for those wanting connect in the real world.

Project facts

Client: Shoes.com
Completion: July 2016
Size: 2400 sq. ft.
Services Provided: Interior Design, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering
Builder: Parallel General Contracting
Stone and Tile: Ciot Canada
Furniture: Hollis and Morris
Custom Furniture: Louis Interiors
Restored Lighting: SMASH Salvage

Achievements & Awards