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February 8, 2017

In part one of our two part blog series on design thinking, we introduced you to design thinking in retail and how it solves real-world challenges in the industry. In this part of our post, we give you our take on applying design thinking with five key strategies for retail IT solutions.

1) Fuse products to create new and better ones
Fusion will be the key to creating next generation, futuristic designs. For example, engineers and apparel designers can partner with each other to create wearable devices that can be embedded into fashionable apparel. Design thinking is essential to support such collaboration.
Take for example, The Heddeko Smartshirt that keeps information in 3D. It indicates if you are putting too much pressure on a certain part of your body. The fusion product is created with biomechanics to address this need. Hexoskin is another popular health related smartshirt that can measure your heart and breathing rate, while also collecting data on your sleep and workout patterns.
Such fusion products require an understanding of the end users expectations and design thinkers can bring in the solutions to create a friction free customer experience.

2) Provide enhanced experience during customer interactions
In the next few years drones are likely to change the way we deliver products that have been bought online. In such a scenario, how are customer interactions likely to take place? Can retailers use innovation to ensure customer delight through semi-autonomous devices? In this case, designing the right protocols and interactions will be critical to providing customers with a customized, convenient and elegant shopping experience.
Design Thinking can enable retailers to truly understand the how, when and what to provide satisfying experience during customer interactions. It could be in terms of training store managers and staff to be sensitive and alert to customer asks or simply analyzing real reasons of basket abandonment. Even small events like a reliable return policy can enrich customer experience.

3) Improve screen design
The screens customers are accustomed to today may change significantly tomorrow. So much so that we could ask if there will even be a need for a screen or if it will give way to augmented reality or a virtual screen? New concepts, navigational skills, and designs will define these virtual screens. How can retailers use the revolutionary screens to their advantage? For instance, they could project a 3D image of their product on the customers palm. Simulative design will allow customers to hold the product and evaluate its dimensions before making a purchase decision.

4) Create brand value
Retailers will compete and win based on the extent of personalization they offer to customers based on market intelligence. Companies that intuitively understand and design products and experiences that are in line with market expectations are more likely to build mind and market share and have a sustainable brand value.
Companies like Google, Apple, Facebook which are one of the topmost in brand value have been innovating and launching products, features and solutions that are immediately accepted by customers as delightful experience. For online retailers, easy return policies, blending social media with their sales sites, leveraging stores for in-store online shopping, rewarding customers in a personalized way could be some of the ways to keep the customers journey a happy one and building a sustainable brand value.
Googles diversification from its original role as an Internet Search Engine to products like Gmail, Android and Maps have enhanced its brand value and brought tremendous media attention and customer recall value.
Amazons marketing strategy of launching Amazon Prime as its loyalty program has been immensely successful. Offering faster and free shipping on selected products, offering services like cloud storage etc. have been a result of innovative and consumer centric thinking keeping the customers needs in mind.

5) Revive brick and mortar stores
Several retailers are concerned about stores losing their relevance due to the growth of online and mobile retailing. Design thinking can play an important role in reviving brick and mortar stores and retaining its relevance. Creative and immersive in-store designs and layouts can attract customers. Virtual reality experiences, innovative ways of personalizing services, and special store-driven loyalty programs are just some of the ways to make the store experience exciting and rewarding for customers through the use of design thinking.

With design thinking, retailers can evaluate and anticipate gaps in customer experience that go beyond mere technology enablement and deliver empathetic and pleasurable customer experiences.

Rina Kanchan has over 18 years of experience and is a Senior consultant with TCS. She focuses on business development for retail solutions. She works closely with sales teams and prospective customers across geographies and enables positioning TCS capabilities and solutions as game changers for global retailers aspiring to stay relevant to the connected customer. Rina is a fitness enthusiast and enjoys swimming and yoga. She is passionate about Indian classical dance form Kathak and is training for the same.


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