The Store WPP

The WPP Global Retail Practice

Human-Centered Retail


by Gwen Morrison

This depends on what you mean by human-centred design. The majority of physical store sales start online. Much of the industry research shows that over 50% of in-store sales involve a digital device–and this will only continue to grow. In the world’s most highly developed markets, retailers across categories report experiencing 60-70% digital influence of physical stores sales. So, human-centred design needs to follow the consumer journey from search, to on-line influencers, to in-store design that becomes more intuitive and experiential as shoppers move closer to purchase. Search has to become smarter and more contextual in term of shopper intent. Bryan Gildenberg of Kantar says that he feels shopper marketing techniques are just beginning to impact search marketing campaigns so this is an area of big opportunity.

In the physical environment, everyone knows that experience is key. However, it’s hard for stores to reinvent themselves. Just one example, for years, research has told us the number one thing people look at while shopping is people. So, the social component of retail needs to be heightened. This can happen a number of ways. But the key thing we need to focus on is how brick and mortar retail environments need to be so much more than just places to get stuff (pure fulfillment should not be their forte). When the shopper visits a grocery store or department store, how can we transition them from just seeking and locating items to a discovery mode? If they are simply wading though product on shelves or hangers, they become numb. Retailers need to rethink the role of brick and mortar as part of the continuum of touch points. How can the store inspire consumers and facilitate shopping that is more rewarding?

Ideally, shoppers should be engaged in a robust discovery process, either on-line or in-store. And remember this is more and more a mobile first world. Delivering a richer experience on mobile devices is a requirement.

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