on March 13, 2020 Retail Insights

Experiential retail and the importance of good design.

Subscribe to Email Updates

Design is a funny word. Some people think that design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.” – Steve Jobs

This quote by the larger-than-life founder/industrial designer behind Apple sums it up perfectly. An artist's emphasis on aesthetics can be appreciated within the proper context, such as in certain pieces of fine art. Yet in the business of retail design that singular approach will fall short. To Jobs' point, a store's design and each point of contact in it should deliver more than aesthetic appeal, it should also be busy at work. To understand what truly effective retail design is in this context, we must look at what ingredients go into making it actually work well.

It's no news that we live and design in the age of experiential retail. Today it's the promise of that experience that brings shoppers out of their busy lives for a few moments and into the store. Retailers with the most proven marketing strategies are trending up in store traffic and delivering outstanding experiences for shoppers. Experiential retail or experiential commerce is a type of retail marketing whereby customers coming into a physical retail space are offered experiences beyond the traditional ones (such as in a clothing store: browsing merchandise, advice from live human salespeople, dressing rooms and cashiers). Amenities provided may include art (often interactive art), live music, virtual reality, cafés and lounges, and large video display walls.

Designing the retail experience means stripping down the full customer journey into the smallest possible components, and then “reengineering each component to look, feel and, most importantly, operate differently than before, you could say that a truly remarkable customer experience is no different than stage production where cast, crew, set design and tech come together to bring every line, scene, and act to life, where every aspect of the well-written brand script is meticulously directed, rehearsed and performed. And each day when the curtain is thrown open on your brand, the elaborate performance begins again. This is customer experience, and when it’s done well, it leaves customers craving more. 

Not too far off from that theatrical experience is the one at retail. In today's experiential environments, customers expect to feel good about having traded their time for their instore visit. Studies on the psychology behind retail demonstrate that the brands who leave an indelible mark are indeed also those experiencing an uptick in traffic and brand loyalty.

SPECTAS’ FIVE ELEMENTS OF GOOD DESIGN.

  • Color is King.
    Color is powerful, and it can make or break your visual displays. A retailer might create an erratic display, but if the colors coordinate well, the display can still be a success. Consider using contrasting colors, like black and white, and monochromatic colors - both create intriguing, eye-catching displays.
  • Use Empty Space.
    There’s a space in all retail stores that is the most underutilized. It’s the section between the displayed merchandise and the ceiling. If this space in your store is empty, you need to start using it for brand messaging and/or store directionals.

  • Expose the Maximum Amount of Merchandise.
    A well-designed, impactful display exposes the customer to as much merchandise as possible while avoiding a sloppy mess. The more products customers see, the more they buy.
  • Tell a Story.
    A display may lack a worded sign or an educational sign. That’s perfectly fine; as long as there’s still a story, the sign can speak for itself. For example, lifestyle graphics are very popular in telling the story. No words, but the image speaks volumes.

  • Create a Focal Point.
    Where does the viewer’s eye focus on your display? Do their eyes move toward a specific location on the display? Or are they confused about where to look? Create a hotspot, or focal point. Hotspots can increase sales by 229 percent.

 

SPECTAS AND JELLY BELLY

Jelly Belly was involved from Day One as various options and configurations were quickly explored and discussed via sketch concepts.  The client appreciated having "purchase" into the design from the very inception of the creative process. After a winnowing of the sketch ideas, multiple rounds of high-quality renderings were completed to allow Jelly Belly to visualize the final product, and to help our Engineering and Project Management teams speak to the various technical aspects of realizing the display.

Our Engineering team really pushed the envelope in the process of bringing the concept to life.  A wave effect was made with the addition of injection-molded parts. Lenticular graphics were then added to the dashboard to complete the branded appearance. Orchestrating the whole process, our seasoned Project Management team brought an eye-catching display with a unique shopping experience to retail.

 FULL RETAIL EXAMPLES

Sonos

The store is all about sound experience, and as such seven state-of-the-art Sonos listening rooms – they look more like cutesy cottages with pointed roofs – are at the very core of the design. each of the rooms has been acoustically designed to replicate a great home listening environment and allow the nifty Sonos electronics to sell themselves.

Upon entering the sound rooms, shoppers are welcomed with an automated greeting that introduces how the room works, followed by an invitation to take control and choose music from Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, or any other streaming partner.  Each room boasts a different design and is fitted out with different product from the current Sonos range, and obviously, the very latest is on display. the aesthetic throughout the premises is actually very much influenced by acoustics.   It incorporates contrasting textures and perforated walls not only to optimize quality, but also to extrapolate the design codes of Sonos products in a matching way. furnishings comprise of custom-made chairs, tables and sofas.

 

Warby Parker

When you walk into 121 Greene, you’ll find rolling library ladders, a photo booth, reading materials from Warby-approved independent presses, and mirrors upon mirrors, so you’ll never have to travel far to get a glance at your bespectacled self.  Warby Parker founders indicates that the store is an early testament to where the retail industry is headed in that all retail is going to have some form of combined online and offline component.

The store really pays homage to great libraries because there’s that inherent length between vision and learning and literature. Rather than keep its eyewear behind glass, the startup’s new store leaves its glasses out in the open to be taken for a test drive. - all available styles and sizes are on display. With this store Warby Parker has led the charge in creating a strong, hip brand online, generated brand recognition and revenue, got a foothold on the market, and then moved offline.

 

LEVIS

Levi’s Delivers Customization Via Times Square Tailor Shop.  Levi’s, long identified as part of the “old guard” of U.S. businesses, delivers an experience very much embedded in 21st-century retail: shoppers in this location can not only shop for their favorite denim jeans or jackets, they can customize these items via the store’s Tailor Shop. Within the shop, tailors can add custom elements to jeans including buttons, patches and chain stitch embroidery. The Tailor Shop also offers jeans repair and distressing, studding services and custom T-shirt printing, where shoppers can even draw their own design before handing it to a Master Tailor. Around the Tailor Shop is a bar with stools that swing out; mounted on that bar are iPads, where shoppers can preview how products would look with personalized touches.

 

Matt Sherman

Creative Director at Spectas