You don't need to be a rocket scientist to realize that the world of retail has changed. For sure internet has caused a stir. But things are not as drastically different as we made them out to be. We thought retail stores would not be needed anymore and will become a memory––an alienated thought with no strings attached to the future.
Companies were once expecting that they would have to move away from their brick-and-mortar storefronts. But technology is still advancing rapidly, and brick-and-mortar stores are still here and flourishing. What happened? The very social media that confined us made us realize the importance of interactions, particularly human interactions. Also, the pandemic happened. The moment it ended; we rushed outside.
Humans are social animals. We can't survive without each other. There is a hunger for good experiences whether it is offline or online. This inherent need in the human psyche is the backbone of experience center design. Also, we have the capacity for empathy, the very fundamental yet important aspect of design. One can’t build or create unless they walk into the shoes for whom it going to be built for. How something is designed tells how would be experienced. Meaning bad design, bad experience. Good design, good experience.
When we talk about experience, it is centered around its users and is the best way to create a user-centered design. Also, it is where the money is. Similarly, the retail experience would be people-centric. Because why would you bother with design let alone experience if it is for a piece of furniture.
People have feelings, thoughts, desires, needs, perceptions, and perspectives and also deserve respect and attention. When the customer walks into a store or an experience center the primary goal of the environment is to make the customer feel at home. Only after the customer has the subconscious feeling that this is where I belong will they stay to truly engage with the brand and not just buy and bail.
There is a mountain of factors that work together, on different levels from something as simple as the archway at the entrance. That enhances the subtle ambient sound. All these things could be put together in design which also makes a good design into a great one. The same goes for experience since design dictates experience. Doesn’t matter if the experience is online and offline. They both tend to different needs and are more important than before.
As for the retail experience, it is become the mix of design, experience, and technology. All three of them need to be in harmony with each other to work well. Some things are not going to change irrespective of where the technology is because it is hard to believe that a robot can more helpful than a human when you are in distress. Also, design, a well-thought design centered around the users are going to become better with technology integration. But, if your design sucks, no technology can make it better.
That brings us to the cyber-centric view, there is so much hype around data. While how it is being used and where it should be used is, have to be the focus. It also makes us question if everything is meant to be measured. If learning about customer behavior and their psyche takes you as far as shifting the product to a lower shelf, and does not encourage you to build something transformative –– more human and relevant then you need to rethink how you see technology. We understand how small changes can make a shift, but it is time to go beyond that and use this tool to make better things happen.
While we think we are shifting from old-school thinking, it is not the entire truth. With automation, if you think that everything can be automated, you are missing the mark. Technology is a force that should be reckoned with–– to build better, and understand better. Consider this –– when was the last time, chatbots gave a good enough answer to your question? They seem nothing but a bunch of if statements.