Retail is Dead

June 21, 2017

Warren and Mahoney has been leading customer experience and user-centred design projects for forward-thinking institutional and government organisations throughout Australasia.

Drawing on the expertise of our staff across all our six Australasian offices, we share our insights on how to create successful architectural, social and business outcomes within this changing retail environment.

How can design transform retail?
Nicole Stock, editor, in conversation with Gareth Huston.
Retail isn’t really about the transaction. It’s more about the interaction.
Retailers are looking at their network footprint and re-configuring their physical environments to match what’s happening online.

NS How do service retail spaces – like banks and government agencies – differ from the mall consumer shop?

GH One is about buying a physical product, while the other is a service – it’s a non tangible sell. It’s interesting because historically, service retailers have designed the customer experience around business needs. That’s been evolving and now they’re in shopping malls and located wherever a retail precinct is. They are competing for customers’ time, as much as a fashion store next door.

In banking it’s been a very closed environment. Breaking down barriers was key to the success of enabling staff to actually have more conversations with their customers. Everyone thinks retail is all about sales, it is, but it’s also about relationships. If the business can form a relationship with a customer and the customer relies on them for their expertise, then you form a longer term relationship and a better understanding of your customers' needs.

NS How do you measure success?

GH To make success real, there needs to be a pre-occupancy evaluation. You have to really understand how people are working, what it is going to change and how that change gets managed when they go into their new environment. Understanding the business analytics pre and post the design enables us to measure the success.

The post-occupancy review has to evaluate the design and the change that has come from it. There are a series of interviews and discussions around making the design better for them. It is a changing world in the way staff and customers interact so those environments need to change too.

The measures need to be tangible for the business so that as well as the gains they understand the pains. They can then ensure their change management people are involved to facilitate that new environment and the evolution of the experience principles.

Everyone thinks retail is about sales - it is, but it’s also about relationships.