Designing the Future Retail Experience

September 27, 2012

With the holidays approaching, it reminds us once again of the over-crowded stores and traffic that this season brings with it. Designing a convenient retail shopping experience is a large scale design challenge due to the increase in online shopping. Nowadays, some major electronic and office retail stores are suffering on their profits due to this steady increase. Most people choose online shopping because it is less stressful, allows them to avoid the crowds, and provides an overall better experience. As a designer, it may be time to think about a whole new shopping experience for retail stores. Below are a few ideas of mine to support this new experience.

1. Utilize Apps

Create a new app that features a wish list.

How it works: the app finds the nearest store around your home/work and analyzes the shopping routes (less trips to store), as well as providing a price comparison among the stores to guarantee the lowest price point.

Benefit: It provides a choice to the potential consumer that adds value through cost effectiveness and saving time.

An Explanation of the Wish List App

A second app would be one that updates you with in-store sales (that aren’t found online).

This would drive more consumers to the physical store if items were found on sale in the store, but not online.

2. Create a Pick-Up or Drive-Through Station
Creating a central pick-up or drive-through in the common mall area could make the shopping experience less stressful for users. They can order ahead of time and pick everything up in one location – saving time and adding value through convenience. Some larger retailers, such as Walmart, Macy’s, Best Buy, and Sears have already started doing this, but it would be beneficial to see even more stores offer this service. You can read an article on how these stores are encouraging this behavior here.

Photo from

3. Create a Personalized Shopping Experience in the Retail Shop
Create stress free and efficient ways to shop in the store. By displaying in-stores maps (via hard copy or Smartphone), it provides a turn-by-turn guide for the items a customer wants or needs. Much like the map shown below, but with more detail (such as aisle information) would be beneficial to have at the larger retail stores.

Target Store Map (photo from

The majority of these ideas are technology based because of the number of consumers with access to a Smartphone in today’s world. While all of these ideas would help to create a more enjoyable user experience in the retail store, it is also up to the store employees to add value to this experience and keep shoppers coming back. It will be interesting to see if and/or how the retail experience changes this coming holiday season.

Written by: Sean Kim, Manager of Industrial Design

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