Retail, as well as other situated customer experiences in the digital age are increasingly focusing on aspects around the experience beyond the act of purchasing a specific product – they might seek to entertain, educate, connect and inspire. Yet, service needs to stay seamless and impeccable. In such situated contexts, novel technologies, brand stories, people and products are united by a specific architectural setting. And all those components need to harmonise in order to create a delightful retail and service experience. In this talk, we share our experience and lessons learned on using in-situ service and digital prototypes to better understand how technology, content, job roles and space should be specified in order to deliver leading customer experiences.
In this talk we share our approach, as well as a critical reflection on how spatial in-situ prototyping can inform service design as well as influence stakeholder communication in the context of designing for future retail experiences. The base of our talk are learnings from a large multi-stakeholder project, where we were asked to understand and define the requirements for new and existing job roles, content, technology and architecture within a future global roll-out of car dealerships.
In this, as well as other situated customer experience contexts, most of the spatial design decisions are usually made already beforehand, or an existing architectural setting needs to be re-appropriated. However, there could be still many open questions remaining: What is the role of technology and content in the future retail customer experience? How will staff behave and perform under new conditions? How can the relationship with customers be strengthened through a novel setting?
Such complex questions usually involve a complex stakeholder setting – dedicated teams from Marketing, Sales, HR, Digital Retail and even Corporate Architecture think hard about current and future customer journeys, discuss novel processes and roles, remap Sales targets. Yet, while teams may have many possible answers to those questions – there is no substitute for getting real and trying things out. This is what we did. Based on input from our stakeholders, possible solutions were brought to life using role-plays and prototypes of the key components of a future retail space – both digital and physical. The presented outcomes reach beyond recommendations for staff, digital touchpoints or spatial arrangements. They point towards the benefits, but also shortcomings of such approaches to service prototyping. Our reflections aim to spur an open discussion about methods and approaches to service prototyping in retail, but also other spatial settings, where the design of hybrid interactions across digital, physical and human aspects will be gaining an increasing relevance.