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5 Trends in Retail Construction That Require Construction Technology [ebook]

Retail construction is currently in a state of flux. On the one hand, appetite for physical locations has been decreasing due to competition of e-commerce outlets. In the other direction, there is an increased emphasis for better use of high-demand space in prime retail locations. While retail construction firms may not have to deal with all of these issues, they’re still affected by the general trends shaping demand for new buildings and renovations for older structures.

While it may be a volatile time for the retail construction industry, firms also have more tools at their disposal for staying on top of these challenges than ever before. Below, we dive into six leading trends currently shaping the industry are all much easier to handle with the right construction technology.

Before diving in, don’t forget to download our ebook titled “The Top 12 Reasons to Use Construction Technology for Retail Construction.” It’s a guide to making the most of retail construction projects through the smart use of construction technology.


1. Smart Buildings

Just like residential and commercial construction, the retail industry wants smart building technology to adapt brick and mortar stores to the needs of consumers used to shopping online. Smart building technology has some of the greatest potential in the retail environment since traditional systems are often wasteful and slow to react.

For example, the Internet of Things (IoT) can be used to reduce unnecessary energy use, detect security and safety problems, improve targeted marketing opportunities and much more. One only has to look to the Amazon Go store as an example of what’s possible, which is designed to allow customers to grab their items and stroll out thanks to sensors that track purchases and automatically deduct the cost from the customer’s account. Every new sensor, tracking system and other IoT unit drastically increases the complexity of the retail construction process. More specialized subcontractors are also needed to complete the installations of complex IoT systems. Construction planning and tracking apps become increasingly more important with each new layer of technological complexity applied to an otherwise standard retail project.

2. LEED Certification

Going hand-in-hand with the demand for smarter stores is the trend of sustainable and green building in the retail environment. A smaller environmental impact and long-term energy use reduction don’t just save money for the retail property owner, these kinds of improvements are also rapidly becoming mandated by many local and federal governments across the globe.

China has led the way in mandates for green building, but many municipal areas in the US, UK, Canada and other countries are joining in on the trend. Whether a retail client is looking for certification through LEED, BREEAM or one of the many other standards, hundreds of new details will be added to the project. Every element of the design may be affected by a green building standard, so only the right construction technology can help a team stay on top of all the various requirements.

3. Adaptive Reuse

While many firms are only interested in taking new construction projects–renovations and refreshes of existing retail structures make up a significant portion of the market. With many big-box retailers shrinking or going out of business entirely, each year brings an increasing amount of empty square footage in need of reuse.

Adaptive reuse is a great way to keep useful space from simply being demolished, but it’s also quite challenging for both developers and the construction companies who must follow their plans. Preparing empty big-box stores for use as housing, smaller retail units or other alternative uses often requires alteration to the structure and major demolition work. 3D modeling is a particularly useful form of construction technology for this kind of retail renovation work. Contractors can scan the entire existing structure with lasers and other tools, modify the model in various ways to see what would work best and then use the finished models to create accurate and highly detailed plans and drawings.

4. Combined Fulfillment (Shipping and Shopping)

As e-commerce sales continue to swallow more of the retail market, companies are getting creative to stay relevant to consumers. Ship-to-store services for local pickup were the first wave of innovation, but now ship-from-store additions are the next goal of many of the world’s biggest brands.

Shipping products out from local stores instead of centralized fulfillment centers can dramatically reduce shipping costs since all of the major parcel carriers determine cost based on the distance traveled and not just weight. But squeezing more warehouse and packaging room into a footprint that is already taken up with essential store functions is trickier than many retail construction firms realize. For some retailers, it’s not enough to just expand the back-of-store space and add in a few counters for packing—they’re moving enough orders on a daily basis to require a loading dock and other industrial warehouse features. Construction technology helps to join together both retail and commercial storage space seamlessly with minimal interruptions to the workflow.

5. Labor Struggles

Finally, global skilled labor shortages in the construction industry continue to interfere with retail building growth. In countries like the US, construction firms are still feeling the effects of the 2008 recession that caused many former or future construction workers to choose other fields. In other parts of the world, such as China, an aging labor force isn’t being replaced by younger individuals due to perceptions of the work. Regardless of the cause, labor shortages make it very hard to complete retail construction both on time and under budget. Even if the project does manage to stay on track, there’s a high potential for expensive rework requests if the laborers lack essential skills.

Construction technology has the potential to help firms attract new talent, train them in necessary skills and double-checks their work all at once without the need to hire dozens of new project and site managers.

Get Ahead on Retail Construction and Download Our Ebook

Don’t let retail construction obstacles stand in your way. Prepare for the challenges of building retail stores and centers by downloading our ebook, “The Top 12 Reasons to Use Construction Technology for Retail Construction.” It covers all of the major issues that


Eric Thomas

Eric Thomas is a Content Marketing Manager at PlanGrid. He develops PlanGrid’s content strategy and creates assets to educate their customers based on his experience working at Gilbane Building Co. and Truebeck Construction. He has more than six years of marketing experience and a Bachelor's Degree in Scientific and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University.

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