Walmart Holds #1 Position on the U.S. List; Biggest Risers Macy’s and Amazon.com Demonstrate the
Need to Compete at the Speed of Retail
Walmart Holds #1 Position on the U.S. List; Biggest Risers Macy’s and Amazon.com Demonstrate the
When branding a space, many facets need to be considered. There are the organizational components: how big; how much space to dedicate to the functions of the space; dimensional code issues-that is, how much space is needed to provide an intuitive flow from one thing to another; how and where to display the products themselves.
There are the communicative aspects that need to be considered: what to tell your shoppers about your brand; how to introduce them to your promotions; ways to guide them so they find what they are looking for easily.
There are the atmospheric components: the correct color with the correct amount of illumination; the visual and physical textures that create personality; an overall brand vibe.
And way back in the corner of the brand toolbox, next to the duct tape and the extra peg hooks, there are the often-misunderstood and under-leveraged sensory aspects of branding.
Matching sounds, music or otherwise, to an evolving product mix is an art. The right music can attract the consumers you feel are best suited for your products. It can help create a branded space that goes the extra mile to communicate what your brand stands for. Does your brand stand for elevator music? Maybe. However, a well thought out assembly of musical tracks (think soundtrack for a film) that help spin your story in a subtle way sounds better, doesn’t it? Even the volume can make a difference.
“A feast for all your senses!” We all know the phrase. We’ve likely used it ourselves when an experience has truly delighted us. These types of rich, textured experiences take many forms: A bustling street fair alive with passionate conversation, dancing light, smells of familiar and unfamiliar dishes, the feel of fabrics, and the sights of arts. A memorable hike through the woods as birds call, sunlight plays through the trees, the feel of rough bark, leaves crunching beneath your feet, and the changing smells as you get deeper down the trail.
Multi-sensory experiences occupy a special place in our memories, a place that connects emotionally to positive feelings of enjoyment. The memories tied to the experiences cause us to seek them out once again. We want to think about them, share them with others, and recreate them whenever possible. And some retail experiences can impart this type of multi-faceted experience.
The best sensory-enlivening experiences celebrate an idea that is unique to the core of a brand and its organization. The first steps into the Nescafe flagship in Manhattan are characterized by the warm, familiar embrace of coffee’s scent. As a shopper moves deeper into the experience, they discover layers of coffee-centric design in every detail. The roasts each have a different shade, indicating a different brewing and taste adventure. The shapes and textures of furniture and materials celebrate the unique, natural features of the coffee bean in artistic form. The hum of the grinder and the bubbling of steamers convey sensory cues, celebrating the culture of coffee. Of course, the Nescafe brand is so intimately tied to a sensorial experience in its products, creating a multi-layered retail experience is straightforward and simple.
Interbrand Design Forum Partners with La-Z-Boy on New Concept Store Design Highlighting Style, Design and InspirationIN: Blog| Brand Updates| Experience Design| In Store Communication| Press Releases| Retail Brands| Retail Design Solutions| Retail Store Design| Retail Store Merchandising| Store Layout Design
Award-winning new look aligns with “Live Life Comfortably” campaign
Latin chicken chain’s new restaurants designed for American consumer
As someone who keeps his finger on the pulse of the QSR industry, I feel like the “breaking news” of McDonalds spending US $1 billion dollars to renovate its restaurants is so “2000-and -late!” Design and experience is something McDonald’s has been paying close attention to for some time. Way back in 2008, while doing global tours of QSR concepts, it was clear that McDonald’s had discovered that investing in the brand experience would pay off.
A visit to its freestanding prototype in Munich proved to engage customers of all ages with an innovative and comprehensive collection of experiences under one roof. The MacCafé space had a modern but friendly vibe with comfy seating, dramatic lighting, and even highly productive working space for those Wi-Fi squatters. A kids zone, with its whimsical décor and private party rooms created a place just for youngsters. Finally, the over-the-top play area appealed to kids and teens with a climbing structure, basketball hoop, and rideable video games.
In fairness to all the “other guys” McDonald’s has triple the locations of the number two burger chain and boatloads of cash. And these Taj Mahals are lab restaurants where many of the innovations will not be rolled out. What is impressive to me is that for an industry where speed of service and operations are such a laser focus, it is still willing to think creatively about the “front of the house” – in other words, what matters to the customer. Over the years it has been methodically exploring through prototype after prototype: What will make customers pass up Panera and the other fast growing fast casual players, in favor of a burger joint. Well, in case you haven’t noticed, McDonald’s is not a burger joint any more.
Great consumer insights, experience design, product innovation, brilliant marketing, all continue to evolve the McDonald’s brand. This is what keeps it on the right path and my guess is that it will pay for itself faster than the Wall Street pundits think.
There’s a LOT of talk under our roof here at Interbrand about the digital aspects of retail branding. Many brands are busy developing or executing digital strategies, some a little further along than others. If you don’t have a strategy for how digital serves your brand, you need to start. Because it isn’t a fad and it isn’t going to go away anytime soon. A recent experience illuminated a key differentiator in experience between the digital and the tangible: the mess.
A recent trip to a common mall brand illustrates why many of your customers would rather go online than come into the store. My shopping trip yielded a table of jeans that looked like someone had slept in the middle of them. Sizes everywhere. This wash here, that wash there. Little if any organization around style and fit, the two things I need to select a purchase. Not simple. Definitely not clean. A complete and absolute mess. The product, not necessarily inexpensive, certainly wasn’t being treated well and in a manner which would actually help me buy it. If anything, it was a huge turnoff and the haphazard display made it frustrating to shop. (You don’t want your store looking like my kid’s bedroom. It isn’t pretty.) It may not have been the company’s intent to drive people out of the store to their website, but that was the outcome.
When I log onto a retail site, the cheerful models peer back at me and give me a bit of the vibe of what to expect from the brand. If I need a size, no problem, I click to see if they have what I need in stock. A simple, clean, no-mess experience. Product looks great on or off a model. No stock, no problem, I know quickly and can move on. This isn’t to say that the digital realm is mess-proof. Certainly, all web experiences are not created equal and some end up being hard to use.
Even while a company may be lax tidying up after the chaos we shoppers leave in our wake, the tangible world still has its advantages. Try as they might, online experience can’t let me feel something.
During a recent business trip to London I had two very memorable dining experiences that shared an uncommon element—experiencing the kitchen before experiencing the restaurant!
The first restaurant, Belgo, was a mussels place that sat in the basement of an old stone building. You enter from street level into a small dimly lit room where you are greeted by a hostess who leads you down a long dark stairwell that take you straight to an expansive view of the kitchen. You see many chefs busily preparing mussel creations and get the sense that this is a place that takes food seriously and wants you to know it! The end feeling is that you are like a rock star who has some exclusive back door access from the proprietor that the rest of the world isn’t privileged enough to experience. The décor was authentic and utilitarian, the food was outstanding and the wait staff was knowledgeable and friendly, but that entry experience was the pièce de résistance!
Zizzi, the second restaurant, had a similar experience, except that you entered onto a mezzanine that allowed you to look down over the entire kitchen and restaurant. From above you could feel the bustling energy of the busy kitchen with its bright colors of food and flashes of fire that really opens your eyes wide and has you leaning over the railing to see more. The mezzanine was such that you had to walk twenty feet out over the restaurant then switch back to get to the metal curving staircase that leads you right to the hostess podium. Again, a total rock star feeling as the hostess is looking at you the whole time you are descending the stairs as though you are the only guest of the evening!
Any given Saturday you can find me at the local Sam’s Club browsing the latest flat screen televisions or swooping down on the scratch and dent section like a turkey vulture. But what really keeps me coming back is not a deal on patio furniture or playground equipment. It’s the samples. One can enjoy a veritable feast, albeit in tiny portions, by browsing the bazaar of sample carts with friendly senior citizens pitching the latest dinner party delights and easy lunch solutions.
Sam’s customers, especially my children, know and love a trip to Sam’s for this experience. It certainly keeps me coming back and I even find myself thinking, “Can I get that at Sam’s?” just so I can hit the samples. Why does it work?
Multi-Sensory: Seeing is believing, but touching, smelling, tasting and enjoying are exponentially more powerful.
Value: Everyone loves something for nothing. The free stuff is only the surface level benefit. The bonus to the Sam’s brand is that customers give them credit for adding value to the time they spend in the store.
On-trend: Customers love brands that bring them the latest greatest products.
Anticipation: Any experience that customers look forward to and plan around is sure to build loyalty.
Other successful brands have leveraged the sampling model. iTunes provides a sample of every song it sells and retailers like Zappos have effectively enabled sampling through free shipping in both directions. However, poor strategy and execution can take a sampling program from a brand builder to a liability.
Do you remember your first iPod? I bet you do. I bet you remember the feel of the box in your hand. How it looked. I bet you remember cracking it open Like a book! I bet the minimalist feel, crisp white look, and flawless shiny iPod was an experience burnt into your brain. That is power of delivering big in the opening ceremony. In fact if you had trouble connecting it to your computer I bet you never think about that. You only remember that first moment of joy.
The opening ceremony is one of the most under-utilized opportunities to delight your customer. Whether you’re talking about packaging, retail, or online, brands that make a memorable impact in the up-front can disproportionately win emotional attachment from their customers.
Target is a great example of how simple things executed well can create an exciting “opening ceremony” experience. Who doesn’t look forward to walking into Target to see what the new promotional theme is? It’s never just a sign hanging. It’s a fleet of visual eye-candy that tells a story and creates a sense of energy and change.
Our work as consultants who delve into the inner workings of brands and businesses allows us insight into many different organizations. Despite our diverse clients, their varied industries and the unique customer groups that they serve, we’re frequently asked the same question: how can we improve the overall customer experience so that we satisfy the customers we have and can confidently go get new ones?
For most clients, the definition of customer experience has included everything from retail interactions and call center activities, to social media and internal corporate culture initiatives. The concept is a broad one that touches many disciplines and departments within an organization. But, it leaves organizations ultimately asking who, ultimately, is responsible for the customer experience?
The most likely place to assign responsibility is at the highest level, the chief executive officer. CEOs define the vision, lead those responsible for functional areas, identify strategies to grow, and make the tough decisions that directly impact the organization and the customers it serves. While a CEO answers to a Board of Directors, the definitive stakeholder of interest is the customer. In a world where putting customers first is becoming the expectation, does the CEO need to deliver a higher level of advocacy and experience creation to truly deliver a delightful experience?
Because of our increasingly complicated lives, our access to technology, more choices, and less time, we as customers are choosing the brands that strive to deliver a great experience. Across industries and categories, I believe the CEO should be the strongest advocate for bringing this notion to life.
Using digital media in retail really isn’t a new concept, the idea has been around for years. Recently though, “going digital” has gotten a lot easier, cheaper and more meaningful to both companies and customers. It’s easy to caught up in the new digital revolution and want to implement this “cool factor” into your brands retail experience in every possible way, however, be smart about it.
The next time you’re in Best Buy, stand in front of the TV department and look at all those screens. Hard to focus, isn’t it. Now imagine those same screens each playing different content and messages simultaneously. My brain shuts down just thinking about that! The point here is that when it comes to integrating digital signage or interactivity into your retail experience, don’t overdo it.
The focus is always about your brand, not how digital you are.
The best way to approach any digital integration in retail is as an enhancing element, not a distracting one. Consumers are already bombarded with messages from different angles. You can inadvertantly add too much digital content and end up with “noise” when you are merely trying to help with a purchase decision.
The central question here is: how much digital is too much? While digital is appropriate for many aspects of the shopping journey, there are moments when it isn’t. Also, and to my earlier point, too much digital content can become very overwhelming and even detract from the real focus of the experience (your brand, services and products).
Confession time: I find myself fascinated by the recent trend of social shopping websites, in particular Gilt Groupe, an “invitation only” online retailer that offers daily sales on limited quantities of high end fashion items at deeply discounted prices.
When the clock strikes noon, shoppers can put an item in their carts (if they are lucky enough to get it before selling out—a common occurrence by 12:05PM). Once in the cart, the item is reserved for 10 minutes. If the item is not purchased within that time frame, it goes back into the general market to be snatched up by a more determined buyer.
There is no time for “do I really need this?” contemplation—the goal first and foremost is to get the item in the cart, hoping that the 10 minute hold time is enough to make an informed decision. Gilt even encourages multiple transactions by waiving the shipping charge for additional items purchased within the hour.
I have gotten caught up in the hype. I’d like to think that knowing what levers a retailer is pulling to get me to buy (scarcity, immediacy, peer pressure, etc.) makes me savvier and therefore less inclined to make an impulse purchase. But in this case evidence has not borne that out.
Though I do not own one, my feelings toward the iPad are bordering on covetousness. And while there are myriad uses for an iPad, I primarily want one to replace the 6 short boxes of comics that I have in storage.
I’ve recently been testing out a few comic book apps from the app store. My favorite, as far as user experience goes, is the PanelFly app. Lately, however, I find myself primarily using the Marvel Comics app because of the titles available and ease of access to the free downloads section. I think comics are perfect for this new form factor. The size is right. The colors are vivid. The potential for enhanced content is through the roof.
Also, the target demographic is primarily older adult males, the kind of consumer that generally has no problem rationalizing half a grand or more for a slab of sexy tech ware.
However, many comic retailers are already gathering their pitchforks and torches and assembling at the village square to put an end to this perceived strange, new threat.
Their main argument against the iPad and comic apps? “Why should customers come to my store to purchase their funny books on dying trees when they can have it zipped to their iPad in seconds?”
This question has gained increased urgency since publishers have recently been testing same-day digital and print releases.
My answer to this perplexing question is: Yes, why should they?
CNN.com recently ran an article in their tech section on this very subject. They quoted publishers and retailers and while everyone is quick to praise the iPad experience, they fail to mention what is fundamentally wrong with the retail experience that has driven customers away in the first place.
While our annual 2010 State of the Retail Industry report delineates the challenge for retail brought about by consumer behavior changes in reaction to the great recession and the rapid adaption of mobile technology—many of those challenges will take several years to address. To find seven things that retailers can do right now, we asked our experts.
Push for differentiation. There is no time to rest on your laurels. Realize that innovation isn’t a stage, it’s an ingrained brand behavior. In fact, stop thinking of innovation as a “next step” all together–”step” as in a phase of something that stops and starts, or merely cycles through.
My ideal retail brand would be one that never completes a store design prototype. The “never done” mentality is always asking, “What else? What else can we do to make it better?” That type of thinking requires courage. Belief in the importance of change. Granted, not every one of your new ideas will be a game changer, but once you entertain doubt and back off, you pretty much lose momentum. Particularly now, when the customer expectations are so far ahead of what most retailers are delivering in terms of the brand experience.
The minute you rest on your laurels and let your brand and your stores get outdated, you have a really big, hardest-to-do maneuver on your hands: a turnaround. If you have a fleet of any size, you’re in danger of being too big and too rigid to manage a turnaround. But if you’re a constant seeker, a brand that remains loose and nimble, the maneuvers are much smaller and easier to manage. Your creative adjustments and transitions will be happening all the time. Knock down any silos in your way and get to that mindset as soon as you can.
Consumers’ rapid adoption of the smartphone means it’s time to start thinking about connecting and communicating through that little screen. To make the most of the opportunity to drive demand, mobile optimization should be a top priority for your brand. It’s all about being in the game. Don’t try to justify mobile initiatives with ROI. Move forward with a reasonable hypothesis and prepare to learn and adapt.
Consider doing a site survey. Do your shoppers expect to share their shopping experience instantly? Do you plan to make fast calls to action in the store? Your building needs a wireless-based backbone to support that, with wireless connectivity that allows for transitions. This goes even beyond the creation of mobile hot-spots. Buildings must have a distributed, robust and flexible IT infrastructure which will allow technical access to all spaces. It helps if you’re working with architects who are aware there is such a thing as a path to purchase so they can help create a store that increases productivity and doesn’t skimp on the brand experience.
It’s vital to map the “customer journey” to understand where best to make the wireless investments, as well as other investments that help your brand drive choice. Mapping will provide the insights that will help you gain advantage and protect sales by offering shoppers what they want in the modes they desire. Not every retailer will need a full-blown program, but each must understand the needs of its customers, what information and access they are looking for and where or how they want to access it. Once these insights are known, the appropriate level of investment and how to spend it will become much clearer.
The multi-channel ideal is a seamless transition from the physical shopping experience to the virtual experience through every digital touchpoint–one that’s painless for the shopper and profitable for the retailer. However, for most retailers that’s not the first thing you can do. There will be silos to take down, brand strategy work and brand engagement initiatives to adopt before that nirvana is reachable. I’d like to elucidate further on what Bill says (above)—“Get in the game.”
Companies that spend too much time planning their next technology steps will find themselves playing catch up to those that are already moving. One of the main benefits of digital is the ability to deploy it quickly and then modify or adapt the solution depending on the performance metrics for success. In that respect, adopting new digital platforms into your channel strategy is less expensive and presents less risk than physical channels. The time is now to leverage digital technologies for increasing revenue, efficiency and customer loyalty.
Get to know your shoppers again. Segmentation that is a few years old is downright archaic so make sure your insights are recent and actionable. Who are your shoppers—both those in your store today and those you want in the future? What’s important to them from a digital perspective, and how can you use digital help to make your brand be more relevant to their lifestyle?
The physical store needs to evolve from its position as the “jewel in the crown” to a “tool in the arsenal.” For retailers, the most important thing that can be done right now is to (re)examine the relationship between the physical brand experience and all of the other expressions of the brand. Brand experiences are inter-connected organisms that create an overall customer feeling about the brand. By understanding the role that retail plays in the context of the other touchpoints that are, or can be, deployed, retailers can drive loyalty, reputation, efficiency and value across their organizations.
My kid will tell you that I make a mean chocolate chip pancake, but that’s only due to my ability to follow the directions on the box. I’m not much of a cook, I’m afraid. I think the most difficult part of cooking a meal is the timing. I admire the planning that goes into starting one thing while thawing another all the while mixing something else and like magic, they all come to the table at the same time. I tried baking a layer cake once and didn’t make it out of the frosting phase unscathed. I ended up with a sticky mess and a birthday promise that went unfulfilled. Thankfully, the local bakery bailed me out.
Evolving a brand into a new, more engaging incarnation can be just as magic, or if improperly handled, just as messy, resulting in a brand promise that goes unfulfilled. Expectations are always high when we embark on the path that leads to transforming a brand, from both our friends on the client side as well as ourselves. Designers inherently embrace a challenge, and we see every project as an opportunity to make a brand all and the very best that it can be. A lot of teamwork goes into executing a brand—that is, following the recipe we’ve created for an engaging shopping experience. If the recipe isn’t followed, your outcome can suffer.
Curious. In a world where we can create our own unique looks by shopping anywhere we want, or by building our own virtual worlds, we still desire the approval of others and want resassurance that we fit in.
If you want to make sure you are being noticed by the right people, check out your recent witty status post on Facebook to see how many “Likes” you got from friends.
Wondering which outfit to wear tonight? Check with the masses via Go Try It On. Post photos of your look(s) and get fast feedback on which outfit makes you look cool and confident—most like the type of person who doesn’t need approval. There’s been a significant rise in the number of mobile instant fashion advice sites that play into this need.
It seems we are constantly looking for peoples’ opinions of where to shop or how we look. When it comes to apparel, of course, some of that need for approval stems from the fact that today’s fashion trends are very tricky to make work in a flattering way, especially for women. Seeking honest feedback can keep you from spending unwisely. So we are using technology to get advice quickly, right outside our closets, or often at the very point of purchase.
So it’s that time of year again. Over the next three months, you can find me at my kid’s high school athletic field, watching his soccer team practice four nights a week. I rather enjoy those days. They’re a combination of fresh air and pride watching my kid trying to be the next great Springboro High goalkeeper.
As I sit here this evening, there is a slight wind that keeps the flag flying, pulling its cable against the flagpole, creating that hollow metal pinging sound. At the far end of the bleachers, a runner is doing some stair work. Her shoes make a sharp pop, I can feel the vibrations down my row as she hustles up and back down again. The evening sun is warm and the smell of freshly cut grass fills the stadium. Based on these sensations, you could blindfold me and I’d still know where I was.
A few retail brands stand out when I think of sensorial experiences. How many times have you smelled a Cinnabon before you saw it? You can smell and usually hear an Abercrombie before you come across one in the local mall. A similar volume of music (not to mention the genre) somehow seems very out of place in an Orvis store. Bath and Body Shop does a nice job of seasonal scents to grab your attention.
As retail designers, we rely a lot on the visual sense to communicate to consumers. But let’s not forget that those brands that engage all of the senses create the most memorable experiences.
Amazing things are happening in China. I recently traveled to Shanghai to witness the 2010 World Expo first hand. It was nothing less than astonishing. I managed to see pavilions from North Korea (an altogether unique experience as it was their first appearance on the world stage), Iran, Belgium, the United Kingdom and India just to name a few.
Disney World for adults
The best way to describe the World Expo is that it’s a temporary and ambitious way to put the world on display, country by country. Imagine a place that takes in on average 344,000 people per day, every day, for six months. When I arrived on my second day around noon, the count had clocked 460,000 attendees. Queue lines were outrageous, lasting up to five or sixhours for the bigger pavilions. Some parts of the park were so crowded that I had to literally fight my way through masses of people. Sticky humidity and sweltering heat made for a very exhausting experience. However, when I passed the grey wall shrouding the UK pavilion and the iconic Seed Cathedral, all of those negative elements faded away.
Having seen a lot of great design around the world, the UK’s Seed Cathedral has to be one of the most incredible pieces of architecture I have ever seen. The concept is elegant and awe-inspiring.
When people ask me what I do, somewhere in the description I inevitably use the “S” word: signs. However, in today’s experience-based socially driven marketplace, brands, retail brands especially, need to move beyond signs and think about wayfinding in terms of the whole experience of the built environment, and how every element in a space can play a role in defining what we like to think of as intuitive wayfinding.
Intuitive wayfinding, means a customer or staff member is able to navigate a space without stopping to think about it, and does not need to consciously keep track of where they are in the space. If a customer needs to look at a directional sign to figure out where to go, you’ve already lost the battle for an intuitive wayfinding experience. The intuitive wayfinding experience relies on a system of well organized, strategically placed visual cues to guide the consumer to their destination.
Space planning plays a key role in maintaining an intuitive navigational experience. In the planning stages, if your plan looks like a lab rat’s maze then there is a pretty good chance it will feel like that when it’s built. However, a layout with the proper adjacencies, strategic departmental hierarchy, and ample common navigational walkways is well on its way to achieving intuitive wayfinding right from the start.
Having read the article about the half-mile-long beaver dam in Alberta, Canada, it occurred to me that those beavers exemplify something frequently overlooked in the retail design business, the idea that it’s okay to fail.
You would have to imagine that over the reported 2800 linear feet of dam in what is basically a flat terrain, there’s the likelihood that sometimes it just doesn’t work the way they intended. The colony has to react quickly to failure to ensure the safety of their habitat. If any of you beavers are reading this post and would like to broaden your portfolio, by all means, give us a call. Failure is an option in design as long as it’s smart failure and failing for the right reason. If it helps the idea move forward, then it might just net out the absolute best result.
In today’s market, retail brands developing a new design concept rarely have the luxury of time. Business pressure demands short design-and-build timeframes, followed by testing and refining.
Recently, I had the opportunity to spend some time in our Madrid office collaborating with a cross disciplinary team to brainstorm and develop a cultural food destination concept that would be a reference point for the city of Madrid. So far project and our ideas are having great success with the client and we are really excited about the potential of the concept.
The experience of working abroad, for however long a period of time, in another office is fantastic! If you ever get the chance to work in another office, especially globally, drop what you are doing and go! It’s a great way to get a fresh perspective on what we do by seeing how other offices/cultures work and engage with each other and their clients. Anytime you can get exposed to new people and fresh processes and ideas it’s really energizing! This is true from both parties perspectives as well. The creative tools I brought were greatly appreciated by everyone, since it was a fresh way of working for them. So, the door swings both ways. I conducted a brainstorming/ideation session with the internal team only, and it was great to see everyone get excited by this “new” way of digging through ideas to discover the concept. By the end, our brains hurt, we were a little sweaty and tired, so we went off to the bar to refresh our creative minds.
Stay ahead of rapid expansion
Singapore, Seoul, and Mumbai are cutting edge markets and this means high expectations. Going into a project as a designer in these cities is intimidating. Shoppers live in aesthetic cultures where every imaginable design has been popularized. These cities are changing organically. It almost seems instantaneous. Within 3 months of being away from Singapore three new malls have opened. It’s all about knowing past/ present memes and looking toward ways of either (1) creating a new twist or (2) breaking the boundaries all together.
In most cases Western design tends to fit in with its surroundings. Success in Asia is all about being bold. Whether it be a silly chewing gum commercial or neon signage that puts Times Square to shame, there is always something screaming for your attention. When you consider how busy people are in cities like Beijing and Tokyo, getting someone’s attention takes a strong effort. In my opinion, the solution to this is a simple design that allows for a detox from all the noise.
There has been a tidal wave of automotive advertising flooding the airwaves the past few months with claims and promises of improved product quality, safety, style, gas mileage. Media spending is way up, with every manufacturer trying to entice customers back into the showrooms.
But to what end?
Consumers hate car shopping and they don’t want to go back into the dealership. Big surprise—the shopping experience there is still one of the most frustrating, untrustworthy, and manipulative games you can be subjected to.
Add to that the fact that the recession has also caused most dealers to suspend investment in their facilities, and you understand why the thought of venturing into a dealership is bleak. Promising better on TV only to deliver the same old retail experience only fuels consumer frustration and mistrust.
Instead, consumers do everything they can to stay out of the dealership, with online research and shopping being the preferred norm. Now even purchasing online has gained popularity.
Successful brands like Apple, Whole Foods, IKEA, even Walmart, understand how to leverage the power of shopper insights to deliver game changing customer experiences that build brand excitement, loyalty and bottom line results.
Auto companies must do more to improve the customer experience in showrooms! And there couldn’t be a better time. With the recent upheaval in the industry, the marketplace is ripe for someone with the courage to innovate and completely reinvent the paradigm. Success will come to those who differentiate.
The upcoming flood of hybrid and electric car provides an excellent opportunity for change.
Once. Twice. Yes, starting very soon, Apple will have done it for a third time: changed the way we buy and listen to music. Apple acquired digital music startup Lala in December and shut the site down in May, leading tech pundits to speculate on the coming of “an iTunes in the cloud,” once the streaming music service is incorporated into Apple’s business model.
Although Apple won’t comment on its plans, as a loyal Lala.com user and Apple fan, I’m fully expecting to enjoy a cloud-based iTunes experience in the near future, and I think it’s great that Apple continues to advance their retail strategy and break paradigms of the industry by sourcing great ideas, making them profitable and bringing them to a larger audience.
While I was listening to WNYC Radiolab the other day I came across an interesting episode centered on choice and decision making influencers. Being a designer, I am always searching for new ideas and concepts to weave into my work, so I clicked on the link. In an hour the host took me through a whirlwind of studies examining the variations of why we choose the way we do and what factors can influence our decisions. And what does it all boil down too?
Stress has a tremendous affect on our ability to make appropriate selection.
To quote my mother, this over-simplified answer is an “astute observation of the obvious.” However, when broken apart, the program’s individual experiments struck me as simple learning blocks that could easily be applied to a retail environment.
Basically, if a person is over-stimulated in an environment a simple decision of what apple to buy can become ridiculously hard because there is too much information for them to just make a choice. They start to tune out their fast moving intuition to make a more educated selection on an item that they could really care less about. In the end, those who were over-stimulated tend to be disappointed.
I’ve been fascinated with the concepts of “augmented reality” as it is currently being used by Legos.
What’s so amazing is the ability to integrate a 3D digital element directly into a live video feed with complete real time interaction. I understand the automotive industry is jumping all over this technology with upcoming concept vehicles that can have on-screen (windshield) feed for enhancing road contours, signage, lighting, etc. —which could completely change the way we think of driving.
So with much fanfare, and at least as much controversy, Apple’s iPad has been released to the masses. Okay, I admit it, I ran out and bought one the day the 3G model was available and I also admit that I’m a bit smitten with it. I have no doubt that it will change my behavior in much the same way my iPhone did. But as much as the general public was anticipating the launch, I wonder if retail wasn’t equally as excited about it as part of the digital retail experience of the future.
From what I’ve seen so far, I can use it as a creative tool (no more losing my pen cap thanks to the sketch app). And I’ll be more efficient with my time away from home. I can imagine that, put to the right use, a device like this has the ability to bring a different set of efficiencies to retail.
Maybe the iPad and the inevitable wave of competitors will have the ability to transform my experience at checkout. Maybe checking in at a hotel will be easier.