Design Guides | It’s The Customer, Stupid… By RHDC - November 5, 2019 Feeling helpless in the face of eCommerce’s critical mass and an ever-more-demanding consumer? A decades-old political adage, with a little RHDC-supplied “tweaking,” could hold the key to your brand’s offline success. After doing a hefty binge of Documentary Now on Netflix over the weekend, your humble author ran across an episode that parodied the 1992 political documentary tour de force The War Room, prompting a subsequent “YouTubeing” of that very film. In it, James “The Ragin’ Cajun’” Carville delivers a line that summed up the focus of the first Clinton campaign and inspired the title of this post – “It’s the economy, Stupid!” Just like a political campaign, a lot of factors are at play when developing a successful commercial environment, however your chances of success increase drastically if you remember one simple thing – all decisions should be focused on delighting the end user of the space. The importance of making customer-centered design decisions cannot be overstated since effectively captivating customers is more important than ever in our attention-deficit culture. “The harder you work, the luckier you are…” Although online shopping is often touted for its convenience, it’s a bit like watching fireworks on TV: the same multi-sensory impact and emotional stimulation just isn’t there. But it’s not as easy as throwing stuff on shelves and expecting customers to show up. To attract an ideal clientele, every business must create their version of a “wow factor” for their target customer. For example, incorporating concierge-level amenities such as complimentary wine or beer, a selfie station photo booth or a TV-equipped waiting area can have a huge impact on a customer’s experience with your physical brand. Businesses should also consider the potential for hosting on-site events and collaborations to increase their foot traffic, brand awareness and engagement with the local community (think cooking classes, fashion shows or co-branded pop-up shops). Creating an environment that’s both visually and experientially stimulating while also accounting for customers’ tastes is extremely important—especially with e-commerce as a major competitor. Keep in mind that the design should have a major influence on each of the customer’s senses, both consciously and subconsciously. Adding a layer of music, scent or digital messaging can go a long way to creating a complete sensory experience for patrons. To better understand and anticipate customer behaviors, many of our clients incorporate radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology into their design. The technology provides data on how customers move around the store, which in turn allows retailers to reference concrete metrics when making business decisions. Businesses can use this data to identify patterns and traffic flow and tweak their merchandising and store layout accordingly. This strategic practice is known to increase profits and enhance the customer experience, but for smaller businesses that may not be able to utilize RFID, conducting market research and demographics studies can still provide effective insight and is still preferable to “flying blind” when making updates to your space. To fully understand a new Client’s industry and potential competitors, we conduct a thorough competitive analysis that tells us what’s already being done, what NOT to do and how we can raise the industry bar. Completing a discovery exercise with Clients helps us learn as much as possible about their target audience so we can tailor a design to fit their precise needs. Periodically conducting your own “mini-discovery” can help achieve similiar results and ensures you’re evolving with your customers. With an ever-expanding portfolio of clients across diverse industries, Retail Habitats Design + Consulting partners with like-minded businesses to create those precious “ah-ha!” moments that ultimately lay the groundwork for a successful design. Click here to view our full portfolio and learn more about what it’s like to work with us.