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Design, Technology and Experience – The Holy Trinity of Retail

For years, the retail industry has been trying to formulate a structure of how the consumer behaves. But, with high permeability of technology in our lives along with the changing mindset of the consumer, zeroing in on a stable structure does not seem probable. A new set of rules need to be formed to create that perfect retail experience for a modern customer, that factor in the evolution of the customer along with the advent of technology. Innovating constantly and crafting something different is of utmost importance when it comes to creating something memorable. An experiential approach towards retailing than sales based formulas works better when a customer is always looking for something new. Building a great brand experience should be the primary focus of retailers. There are three major stages in a consumer retail journey; before, during and after the sale. To give a multi-sensory experience in all the three chapters, let’s create some new rules of engagement. 
 
Designing the customer experience – The customer experience design needs to idiosyncratic in nature so that it becomes an unparalleled adventure. Blending all the elements of the store and creating a holistic experience will keep the customer engaged and more inclined towards buying the product. The memorability of the experience is directly proportional to the return of the customer and purchase decision. 
 
Personalise the experience – There are 2.32 billion smartphone users in the world. Leverage technology to create such experience and win that elusive loyalty of customer in this highly competitive landscape. A personalised experience germinates the seed of belonging in the customer. 
 
Smart use of technology – When done right technology is seamless and invisible. You must decide whether a certain technology is adding to the experience or taking away something from it. Sometimes excessive use of technology inside a store can be overwhelming for a customer. The right amount makes the experience ten-fold better. 
 
Merging online and offline – As the customer is evolving, so should your methods. With the digital world omnipresent, giving the ability to switch between online and offline to the customer will add to the overall retail experience. The Omnichannel experience should not be limited to just the store. For example, a user should have the option to buy from the store and return it via the web/app. 
 
Crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s - Apart from bringing new and evolving experiences into the store, key elements like guided selling, communication of special events or promotions, deep dive into product content, inventory availability, cross-sell and up-sell suggestions, mobile check-out, portable payment processing and a 360-degree view of the customer behavior need to exist in affirmative. 
 
Fragrance and Music – Often neglected, fragrance and music play an important part in enhancing the store experience. These two elements encourage the customers to stay longer in the store resulting in a purchase.
 
Consumer Intelligence – Analytics play a crucial part in providing relevant products to the consumers. Purchase patterns, consumer behavior over time, seasonal trends, halo effect and other key data points will give the brand more understanding of the consumer which will help in giving the consumer a great experience. Combining the above practices, stores can come closer to their ideal experience for the shopper. 
Create a symbiotic relationship between design and technology to give the customer a completely unforgettable experience.
 
 
( Lisa Mukhedkar is Co Founder & Director at Restore Design. She has spent the last 10 years with Restore, after having spent 15 years in Communication & Marketing.  A student of commerce, she started out in J Walter Thompson as a management trainee and left 7 years later as the head of the Asia Pacific team for Kodak.)
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