3 ways to improve your space and store design

On June 4 we had the first edition of our Shopability Forum. A group of top-notch retailers gathered and learned about new ways to go about store and space design, customer engagement and quantifying that engagement. We want to share 3 key lessons from the Forum on how to improve space and store design.

*1. Design spaces for people

We humans live in spaces, but whereas time and money is spent on perfecting every click, hover and icon on your touch screen, little is done to optimize the user experience in real-life spaces. Even the spaces that were designed by the world’s best architects, like the High Line Park and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, are not actually designed according to human behavior.

At the High Line, the designers didn’t think about flow of people carefully enough and now the benches aren’t used. At MoMA, where you come to relax and be inspired, there are many aspects that cause friction, such as the queues and posters showing you that you can’t be with more than 154 people in a room. Using simple technology, such as a people counter could have avoided this and automatically redirect visitors to less busy spaces.


High Line


Museum of Modern Art

At the other side of the world there’s Fuji Kindergarten in Tokyo designed by Tezuka architects. Its looks are deceiving and very much unlike your typical kindergarten. It was designed based on actual behavior that the architect detected in kids. They observed kids play and manually tracked and analyzed their movement and behavior. After that they designed a space that reflected their behavior of, for instance, running in circles. Moreover, the tools on the playground are different than anywhere else, as they are built to encourage engagement and cooperation. Kids coming from this kindergarten proved to have higher cognitive skills than their peers. We believe all spaces, including retail spaces, can be designed in a human-centric way, based on behavior. In that way we can design spaces that inspire; shops should be shopable in the way the playground is playable.


Museum of Modern Art

2. Make space design an iterative process

Whereas the technology world has long moved to the ‘agile’ methodology, meaning rapid development cycles based on measurement, feedback and current needs, architects and space designers usually don’t work like that. This is a missed opportunity, as they too can make use of a model such as our ‘Shopability Circle’. It’s a constant cycle of first hypothesizing and designing and then using retail analytics and store analytics to test and optimize. Every time you learn more about your customer behavior you solved a part of the puzzle and can implement the learnings in your next design.


3. Think big, start small

While we would love to see stores being designed in the way Fuji Kindergarten was designed, this is not always possible on the short term. This doesn’t mean that you can’t start making steps in the right direction today. Using store analytics and other retail technology you can use the same thinking as the architects at Tezuka, but on a smaller scale. For instance, think of tracking how shoppers behave in front of a shoe wall, by tracking touches. Compare that to the sales data of the shoes, to optimize positioning, pricing, stock management and more. You can then create new designs based on what you learned about shopper behavior at a specific wall.

Once you get started with this process you’ll get addicted to the insights and will want to measure more and more. Real results will follow soon and it’s a matter of time before your entire team and company would want to work in this way. Then you can truly incorporate the ‘Shopability Circle’ thinking into every aspect of your store design and create shopable stores based on human behavior.