We are using thorough analyses of the consumer journey to plan and design the scope of the consumer facing-experience.
In our previous posts in this series 'Why digital?' & 'Defining Digital Retail', we covered the reasons and expectations brands have to create retail experiences of the future and we defined what digital and physical components make up this type of environment.
In the most recent post 'Approaching Digital Spaces', we began to look at the phases, activities and outcomes needed in order to guide the introduction and implementation of a new retail concept. The discovery phase is a crucial moment to define and agree on experience and technology guardrails, before diving into the following phases.
Once these outcomes are achieved, we manage the boundaries between phases and guide our clients from the discovery phase into phase 2, planning.
Planning Phase During this stage of a project, we begin to draw up the steps and areas of our clients’ consumer journeys, their consumers’ expectations, motivations and frustrations along potential touchpoints with their brand.
What do you as the retail brand want your consumers to see, feel, hear and experience along their daily routines, in-store or any other place they could potentially interact with you? With the answer to these questions, we map out brand experiences and technologies, to identify what is most relevant and meaningful for our clients’ consumer.
This allows us to outline all relevant types of interactions and connect them back to brand channels, considering consumers’ online behavior, their incentives to visit a store, digital engagement during their visit, as well as following up with them to ensure return visits in the future.
Once all brand touchpoints and desired experiences are identified, these insights help us to define specific technology, content, and staff requirements for each type of consumer interaction, for all existing brand channels. Understanding the full consumer journey enables our clients to approach their retail concepts holistically, beyond the border of their stores.
While these requirements help us to plan and design the consumer-facing experience, a lot depends on the execution of the plan behind the scenes. Specific requirements regarding store power, internet connection, maintenance, structural and potentially even architectural dependencies need to be defined.
A lot of precision is required for this planning activity not only from a technical view, but since requirements to architects and structural engineers need to be precise and because environmental or building code restrictions need to be understood down to the last detail.
To estimate a timeline, we are working backwards from a store opening date. This allows us to create a detailed project plan based on feasible assumptions for the given timeframe. The plan determines how many prototypes and iterations we can work with in the upcoming phase, again, considering dependencies and timelines on multiple requests for proposals, orders, potentially international deliveries, preparation, and setup.
Design & Iterate Using the project plan and store opening date allows us to work out how many design iterations are possible to arrive at a validated and final consumer experience journey. Similar to the activities in the planning phase, the same design and validations iterations are necessary for the tendering process and implementation of all technical solutions.
During these holistic design iterations, we get to validate aspects like power needs per touchpoint, possible historic building restrictions, network bottlenecks throughout the day, or even heat dissipation that needs to be evaluated which could impact on in-store cooling mechanisms.
These dependencies are always unique, therefore it is highly critical to the project’s success, to take the time to consider all efforts carefully. The results of these activities are prototypes, solution design documentation, exact content requirements, the role of the brands’ staff, as well as the right channel mix to incentivize to desired consumer interactions.
They form the basis for us to create requests for proposals for partners from our, as well as our clients’ existing vendor network. We support brands with the preparation, invitations, evaluations and eventually the negotiation and contracting activities using methods and criteria proven to deliver best possible outcomes.
Digital Retail Series We will share all the details around the final phase in our approach, implementation, its activities and outcomes in the next post in our Digital Retail series. Stay tuned for more insights into our experiences around the future of retail.
In the meantime, we would love to hear about your experiences and perspectives on the matter. What aspects did you find to be critical in creating viable plans for your retail innovations? How do you typically balance design and validation in your efforts to be a consumer-centric brand?