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German book retailer Thalia trials new store format

Thalia, the largest chain of book stores in German speaking countries, is trialling a new store format, designed by UK agency JHP, in three branches.

The agency was briefed to reinvent every aspect of the stores, from the shopfront to the merchandising systems, while introducing improved navigation and conceptual zoning.

Freelance design project manager Katja Winterer was appointed by Thalia and worked with JHP on the design and its implementation. She says the trial format is proving popular with customers and is well-liked within the company.

A distinctive tree feature has been introduced with the new format. “It is used for merchandising presentation, as you can see around the middle area. But it’s more or less an indication of zone. So it needs to draw interest, it’s a highlight element. It describes and builds an umbrella to a zone where people are invited to sit down, to dive into their books, to also experience digital solutions that Thalia has offered,” says Winterer.

There are digital screens behind the cash desk and on the perimeter wall, with navigation screens to help shoppers find the right zone. There are also touchscreens for education and entertainment in the kids area.

The new store also allows more freedom to customers, in terms of how they complete their transactions. Option include buying from home with delivery, click & collect, conventional buying from a sales assistant, or a kiosk that allows the collection of pre-ordered books without speaking to a member of staff. It is also possible to buy a book in-store – via a tablet or from a member of staff – and have it sent directly to your home.

Thalia operates around 300 physical stores in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It also owns online bookseller Buch.de, and is part of a retailer alliance that operates the Tolino e-reader.

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