Experience Design is about the development of immensely satisfying spaces. A term used in the IT industry, it also refers to design where user experience is kept centre stage. Experience-based retail design is as vital for businesses today as graphic design or branding.
By Heena Handa
The way the world does business has changed. The marketplace has shifted to the virtual plane – the online space where products (and now services) are sourced cheaper and delivered faster, all from the comfort of the living room! Therefore, online is also your competitor, in addition to all the others in markets around you.
So what can you do to change this competitive scenario?
The first challenge is to change your mindset. As retailers, we may believe that we have a great outlet that customers love, but that may not be so from the customer’s point of view. Acceptance is where it begins.
Understanding today’s customer and how you can convert them is the next objective. Make it easy for them to buy from you. Make sure they have a great experience when they deal with you.
Here are some thoughts on how you can make your retail outlets immersive and experiential.
Store design – Today, the customer expects visual treats. Come to think of it, haven’t you ever gone to a particular restaurant again just because you enjoyed the interiors more than the food they served?
So think outside the box for designing a store that sells even the most basic of things. Design has no relation to how expensive the products are; rather, design is meant to ensure that more business happens in a particular space. A showroom that is visually appealing, relaxing and informative will attract more valuable customers.
Lighting is an essential part of your display, and it is a technical decision which should be taken with care. How will colours look in yellow light? Will you be able to do any matching? Do your spotlights create dark areas? It is critical to understand the quality of lighting (not type of fixtures) required, for your products to be seen in the best light. Since every product behaves differently under light, it is important to select the correct colour temperature.
Also, consider the psychological impact of light. Cool light keeps you alert, so it’s suitable for checkout and admin areas. Warm light relaxes you, so it’s suitable for display and consideration areas where the customers need to spend lots of time.
Display – Looking at the products on display should always be a great experience. Therefore, products should be displayed in imaginative and creative ways, and not in the most simple and basic manner. The displays should be as close to reality as possible since that enables the looker to visual the same product in home settings.
While displaying products, think quality and value and not quantity. If your store is uncluttered and the staff well trained, customers will find what they are looking for faster, and even discover things that they were not seeking.
If you are dealing with consultants such as architects and interior designers, create a space where they can discuss technical drawings and samples with their customers without being disturbed.
Technology – Install a LED screen or projector in the store. Show digital catalogues on a large screen and then share them via phone. Create checklists and estimates on cloud for quick sharing. Make Whatsapp groups with their designers and family members for discussing ideas and easy feedback. In this way, you can remain connected with the customer even when she is not in your store.
Most companies are investing heavily in apps based on augmented reality, helping customers see their products in virtual settings on any smart device. If you are dealing with any of these companies, get them to include you in their technology-based display systems.
Brand – Your store should have a brand value that is independent of all the brands that you showcase inside. Your brand should reflect who you are and what you stand for. It should indicate your speciality, your unique identity.
When you invest in your brand, you become committed to what it promises, and that brings consistency to your approach towards business and customers. Even your staff starts believing in your vision. And your vendors would respect you all the more.
But having a brand and believing in it is not enough. Your brand needs to be communicated to your customers, passersby, vendors, etc. Besides, it needs to be integrated with your interiors. Since branding can make a big difference to a business, it should be done well with a professional approach.
The author is founding partner & creative head of EDC Space, an experiential design firm undertaking architectural & interior design projects pan-India. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.