Kyoorius Designyatra '09: Making shopping conversational

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | September 08, 2009
Design gurus shared their thoughts on how essential design is for retail

Actress, Bo Derek famously said, "Whoever said money can't buy happiness simply did not know where to shop". Truly, shopping is an experience that delights people. Experts at the Kyoorius Designyatra held in Mumbai shared their observations on 'retail yatra', design in the context of retail.

Rodney Fitch, founder and chairman, Fitch believes that shopping is the purpose of life.

Successful retailing, he said, will always mirror the society it serves. The tectonic plates of world retail are always shifting. Touting retail as an exciting sector, Fitch said that six of the fastest growing global brands are retailers, such as Amazon, Wal-mart and Tesco.

& #BANNER1 & #A peep into history suggests that retailing -- distribution of products and services -- has existed in some form or other. "Retailing has evolved from markets to specialty shops to departmental stores to supermarkets to shopping malls to e-commerce," Fitch said.

According to him, retail offers a complete design experience and can be successfully achieved by innovation, packaging, creating a distinct brand identity and ensuring consumer participation.

On a lighter note, he said that shopping is the only true democracy.

Hans Van Der Loo, social scientist and consultant, emphasized on creating a good customer experience in retail. 'Conversations' in retail, in his opinion, was gradually becoming passť. Citing the example of electronics brand, Apple, he said, "Apple addressed this problem and made stores to talk to the customer, and not just to sell."

Having salesmen talk to customers goes a long way in creating a good retail experience, rather that a one-sided conversation or a loud advertisement with information overload.

He said that Starbucks had done a great deal in this regard -- the brand built in customer engagement, for instance, by publishing books written by customers about their experiences and by making design icons like cups and bags. Shopping bags, for instance, are postcards that say where you had been and what you did there.

Michel Van Tongeren of SVT Branding and Design Group said that putting the brand in context is imperative, through factors such as service, experience, staff, in-store communication, visual merchandising, mass media communication, price, place and assortment. Creating a distinct brand image, accumulating deeper insights in the environment and formulating best practices and next practices are essential.

"Break from the pack by analyzing competition, create a differentiator and translate creative concepts into the retail formula," he said. Creating a strong internal branding by integrating business and people and creating conversation is vital, he said. "The company becomes a person and it's all about a personal relationship with the customer," he added.

The buzzword is re'tale'...not retail.