By Massimo Scattarreggia
By Massimo Scattarreggia
What are the major developments in retail design?
In the 1990s Retail Design was largely a traditional discipline implemented primarily by interior designers and architects. Designers of commercial spaces left the university mainly as artists, with the mission of creating “works of art”, at best keeping in mind the importance of the functionality of the spaces. His impulses, methodology and approach were “inspiration”, “solitary work” and orientation to “creation”.
In the digital age, the School of Design Thinking turned designers from “artists” to “scientists” and transformed a culture focused on creating “masterpieces” into a culture oriented towards “problem solving”. The designers’ mission became to identify solutions to the “sufferings”, needs and desires of users and consumers. His working method became “analytical”, his focus “holistic”. Keywords, such as “aesthetics”, gave way to new concepts such as “empathy”, “relevance” and “co-creation”. The creative impulse no longer came “from within” but from “without.” Social and human studies entered the curriculum studiorum of designers and architects. The “creativity” was no longer related exclusively to the “content”, but mainly to the “context” of creation.
I joined the Design Thinking movement around the year 2000, but with time and practice I saw the need to radicalize the approach; With this mission in mind, I founded the INDESIGN company and design agency in 2004. I identified two problems at the heart of Design Thinking that were affecting its “efficiency”: the “doctor syndrome” and the “mono-approach”. The first expression refers to the attitude of designers who carry out their tasks in a similar way to that of doctors, formulating a diagnosis and recommending a prescription without going any further. The second definition refers to a fanatical “customer-centric” approach that, in the development of a project, requires considering only the “user” without taking into account additional key factors such as the “environment”, the “market”, the “Trends” and “competition”.
For this reason, I began to shape a new school of Radical Design Thinking, based on a culture “oriented to results” and I focused – in the development of projects – in generating “positive changes”, rather than simply providing recipes for solve problems. In my Radical Design Thinking, the process is more “pragmatic”, the more “context-oriented” approach. I introduced new concepts like “eclecticism”, “effectiveness” and gave new meaning to “intelligence gathering” in pre-design research. I encouraged my designers to “capture” reality, and introduced them to new disciplines such as neuroscience, neurolinguistic programming, business intelligence, positive psychology, technology, as sources of inspiration and “lateral” thinking.
In my Radical Design Thinking, “creativity” is related to “change” and design is not a doctrine; it is a way of positively changing reality.
What should designers consider when planning a commercial space?
Designers cannot look at a space and start designing.
The first thing to understand is whether or not the business model works. Once, a Mexican group, which owns a chain of butcher shops, hired me to improve the appearance of their stores. The real goal, of course, was to increase sales. In our research, we found that the traditional carnage model was not attractive to the middle class and the millennial generation. Therefore, improving the appearance without having evolved the business model would have been a waste of money. Without understanding the cause of the “suffering” of customers in the purchasing process, strategic solutions cannot be formulated.
The second relevant element for a designer is positioning, the way in which we want our brand and / or space to be perceived by its target audience. Part of this element is the personality that the brand wants to project, that is, the values that the design must communicate. Only once the business model and positioning have been defined, can we begin to work on the general image of a brand and its visual identity (branding).
After completing the branding phase, the designer is ready to conceptualize the space, which means planning the processes, scenery, rituals, and interactions that the store must accommodate. How can you start designing a space before you have planned the experiential initiatives and the engagement tools part of the modus operandi that will characterize the brand and its new concept?
After completing the conceptualization task, the designer can finally begin the space design phase, which requires creativity and functionality. The aim is to create a unique place that connects with the customer on an emotional level, and at the same time offers a smart and playful shopping experience.
This objective is the reason why the focus returns to innovation, experience and engagement modalities, now developing the details of the implementation.
The designer must subsequently focus on the portfolio of categories and products, analyzing the best solutions at the level of zoning and merchandising.
Finally, you must take into account what value-added services can reinforce the concept and what type of human resources is necessary for its effective implementation.
Considering all these tasks, which are my daily challenges, I define myself as an “innovation leader working at the intersection of multiple domains”: social sciences, to generate desirable and relevant products and / or services; business strategies, to validate the viability and profitability of the projects; design methodologies, to create attraction and emotional connection; technology integration, to generate experience and engagement.
What is the influence of digital solutions on Retail Design?
The integration of technology is a critical element in our digital society to improve the shopping experience and generate engagement. However, technology tools cannot be purchased from a catalog; they must be part of a solution that solves specific “sufferings”, problems, needs and wishes of the users or clients.
Brands and retailers need to improve the image of the brand and the narrative associated with it, decorate the space in a dynamic way, highlight the products in an unconventional way, offer experience, generate engagement and execute operations quickly and efficiently through processes smart. Positive responses to these six families of needs depend largely on technology integration.
Today, the technology that can be applied to retail is driven by mobile applications, internet of things (IOT), wearable devices, facial recognition, haptic technology, artificial intelligence and big data. Each one influences the purchase intention during the process of purchasing a product or service. Wearables, for example, promise a reduction in the time that elapses between intention and action, consequently minimizing the time between “wanting” and “having”.
In my most common projects, the type of technological solutions that I most frequently integrate in the design are: adaptive dynamic lighting, digital signage, e-becons for geomarketing, devices for analytics, stock control cameras and planograms, touch screens and videowalls. , holograms, smart mirrors and shelves, scent dispensers and sensory activated music.
What is the influence of psychology and neuroscience on Retail Design?
Psychology and neuroscience also play an important role in contemporary Retail Design. Every element of a built environment has a considerable positive or negative impact on our mental state and emotional well-being.
Evidence-based design (EBD) and cognitive design (Cognitive Design CD) are results of the Design Thinking process and are based on research on the psychological and neurological impact of design elements, impact that is power constantly. CD is an emerging design system based on cognitive neuroscience, which studies motivation, decision-making, and emotional responses. In addition, it analyzes the activation of brain centers based on memory and response patterns to apply them in creating an environment that attracts buyers. EBD uses scientific evidence as the knowledge base on which to make design decisions and define metrics to validate the effectiveness of the implemented solutions.
EDB was initially experienced in the field of healthcare. Psychological and neurological research has shown that the physical and multisensory environment in hospitals influences the recovery time of the patient. EDB in the healthcare field has also helped caregivers perform better, reducing stress, frustration and dissatisfaction. Similar findings now emerge from research in commercial spaces, where the EDB, in addition to boosting visits and purchases, helps sellers’ moods, improves their focus and their efficiency. Even fast food chains, such as McDonalds, have altered their environment to influence the customer’s mood, even playing classical music during the last hours of the night, when boisterous behavior occurs most; This initiative has led to substantial improvements.
The neuroscientific dimension is very relevant. It drives the necessary shift between divergent and convergent thinking, between using the potential of the amygdala and the limbic system to emotionally address the research phase or harnessing the prefrontal cortex and striatal system to cognitively approach the conceptualization and design phase.
Today’s designers must understand the importance of the neurology of pleasure and needs such as stress reduction, which affect the satisfaction of a customer’s visit and purchase process. Neuroscience teaches us which environmental elements help us promote the release of pleasure-inducing dopamine and which ones to suppress the release of stress hormones. Understanding neuronal and hormonal activation patterns is necessary to decide what to look and style to give the commercial space in terms of colors, textures, shapes, images, etc.
The retail design of the present and the future is created on innovation, experience and engagement; on transitional relationships; on the construction of “places” rather than simple spaces; about storytelling, rituals, scenery and interactions. Creativity, of course, will remain the key ingredient in realizing all of these critical success factors.
Article originally published in “DIE WELT”