Why is retail design important?
We recently explored the importance of retail design. Click here to revisit our thoughts on the importance of “brand fit,” the crucial nature of customer experience and why your shoppers need information in the store environment.
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 implementation of anything without first going through some type of “retail design” process.
Here are the final three of six problems that are solved with the right retail design. Check out part one here.
Breakdown in omnichannel strategy/delivery
“Omnichannel” is an essential part of the retail ecosystem. What once was cutting edge is now table stakes for most retailers who operate at scale.
Customers assume they can buy online or via an app. Or buy online and pick up in-store. Or use an app to improve their in-store experience. Boundaries have blurred, so a seamless shopping experience means meeting your customers wherever they are.
Nonetheless, breakdowns in omnichannel strategy are common. This can happen when there’s poor alignment between teams, such as digital developers failing to consistently communicate with store operations or supply chain. Or when flash outweighs purpose and value, and expensive new digital initiatives are ignored by both customers and associates.
The starting point is always value – how does this omnichannel initiative improve the shopping experience? Then it grows with the personalizing and localizing of specific experiences that provide assistance where shoppers need it most.
As the interaction and integration advance, the experience can become more communal and immersive, depending on the brand goals.
Ultimately, great omnichannel solutions emerge from a holistic approach that is precisely integrated within your branded environment so they support your goals and overall strategy.
Design that doesn’t also focus on associate experience
The associate experience is a critical part of the design of branded environments. It supports and augments the customer experience and bolsters employee retention.
Consider some recent and significant evolutions in branded environments.
The rise of BOPIS during the pandemic showed that parking lots are no longer design and planning afterthoughts. Further, store interiors also are evolving to serve not only multiple paths to purchase but also to facilitate returns, problem resolution, delivery and regional inventory management.
That not only means shopper journeys are evolving but also associate duties and customer interactions. Your associates need the training and tools to feel comfortable with customers and to consistently provide informed help and support. While this starts with knowing where products are and what they do, it now leans heavily toward digital interfaces, such as employee mobile apps and tools, inventory management, help desk support, wait time/queue management and engagement analytics.
So when planning a design for your branded environment, ask yourself what associate pain points will be solved, what digital tools will improve the associate experience and how will you train them to use your new digital solutions.
Design that can’t be scaled
Great retail design based upon solid strategic research along with consumer insights is a critical starting point for developing branded environments. But it’s only a starting point.
Developing, manufacturing, procuring, managing and executing the rollout at scale – and don’t overlook installation for a variety of store footprints – is a complex process that includes innumerable opportunities for inefficiencies and unexpected costs to arise.
Too often, retailers fall in love with designs or materials or technology that works well for a single prototype or flagship store but is impractical – or prohibitively expensive – at scale. Or execution goes off the rails during vendor-to-vendor handoffs as the program progresses.
That’s why a partner that offers end-to-end services is ideal for complex rollouts to several hundred – or thousands of – stores. When designers communicate with print, manufacturing, digital and procurement experts under one roof, it ensures that value engineering is written into the development process.
As for overseeing the campaign, great project management offers a single point of contact during the rollout process, ensuring that communication is ongoing and transparent between retailer and vendor(s).
Further, an intuitive, customizable web-based technology platform that allows you to manage all aspects of your rollouts – and even make last-minute changes – not only makes the process more efficient, it also provides peace of mind.
A store refresh and rollout are about optimizing the retailer’s store environments and celebrating its brand. But this ultimate purpose is only achieved if the campaign provides ROI.