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The Top 6 Problems You Can Solve with the Right Retail Design (Part 1)

By Miller Zell
  • Retail
  • The Top 6 Problems You Can Solve with the Right Retail Design (Part 1)

Why is Retail Design Important?

Retail design establishes the two critical components of a shopper’s visit:

  1. It creates the overall ambience and experience for the brand in the physical space.
  2. It guides, engages and informs busy shoppers on a variety of trip missions who are following diverse paths to purchase.

Retail design paired with strong retail strategy and insights create the core foundation for the development of optimized branded environments. There should be no downstream engineering, production and/or implementation of anything without first going through some type of “retail design” process.

Here are the first three of six problems that are solved with the right retail design. Click here to read Part 2 .

Lack of Loyalty

Just as store design must ease the path to purchase and minimize shopper pain points, so must it celebrate and differentiate your brand from its competition. This is the path to brand loyalty. 

Shoppers have both conscious and unconscious responses to branded environments, and design starts by strategically researching both brand and customer, knowing in advance that every detail and subtle stimuli influence buying behavior.  

This is a triangulation of aspirational brand identity, shopper wants and needs and the environment that best brings them together. In-store communication must be purposeful, serving the shopper while also telling the brand’s story in a consistent and compelling way. 

Brand identity can start with luxury or lead with convenience, or it can touch many bases in between. Knowing the brand and its customers, both present and potential, provides the best path forward toward brand-right, differentiated design. 

Poor Shopper Experience

“Customer Experience” – or CX – has become almost a cliché when evaluating and developing branded environments, but it became a cliché because it defines the core need.

Not to be reductive, but too many customers checking the “bad shopping experience” box means a brand is in trouble. The good news is the opposite is also true.

There are two paths here. First, and most obvious, do everything you can within your environment to create a great shopping experience, whether that’s about store design, omnichannel efficiency or associate training.

Second, when customers complain about poor shopping experiences, despite your best efforts to avoid them, create processes to respond quickly and effectively and make sure they are not just understood but fully addressed by relevant associates.

If this is a design/layout issue, such as wayfinding, merchandising or aesthetics, explore corrective measures, both immediate and long term. Further, nurturing seamless omnichannel integration requires being agile in response to inefficiencies and customer complaints.

Oftentimes, a poor shopper experience becomes constructive criticism that provides an effective, customer-focused solution.

Lack of information/guidance in your store

Customer expectations continue to rise every year. They want what they want, delivered their way on demand and they still want a great shopping experience.

If they are buying online, they want their purchases with five-star reviews delivered yesterday. If they are in-store, they want to go directly to the correct aisle, view many choices (but not too many), quickly grab their very specific favorite and then immediately check out with no waiting in line.

If they use BOPIS, they want their purchases immediately delivered to an area that is clearly defined and easy to enter and then exit. 

And, if any friction is created by an inefficiency along their path to purchase, customers immediately voice their complaints on various social media channels, where retweets, likes and comments go viral.

Sigh. Yep, customer complaints are part of the game, always have been and always will be.

Two routes exist to combat customer inconvenience and its ramifications: 1. Minimize it with great store and omnichannel design; 2. Create detailed processes to manage and correct it.

Strategically and thoroughly reviewing customer data and feedback helps, particularly when there’s a clear path toward pursuing solutions. 

There also is good news. A consistent, honest and effective pursuit of minimizing customer inconvenience can become part of a brand’s identity, one that is celebrated by customers and nurtures loyalty.      


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