Finders, keepers

What is the value of a physical store?

A valuable customer experience is one that matters to consumers because it meets their needs. Finding what this value is for customers, where in the customer experience it can be created and how physical stores can play their part, is the pivotal challenge for brands and retailers today.

This is the short read. Got more time? Read more about creating valuable store experiences by downloading the full report: Finders Keepers, Find the Value in Your Customer Experience and Keep Your Customers Coming Back.

Value of time.

Brands that help us manage our time in the best way possible understand how precious a commodity it’s become. It’s about helping customers to either save it, with super-enhanced convenience, or spend it well, through heightened leisure experiences. AS consumers we have escalating expectations around how both sets of needs should be met.

Amazon Go and Samsung 837 are innovations that create value for customers in different ways, by allowing them to control how much time they spend. The first, a checkout-free convenience store, saves shopper’s time by eliminating the need to queue and pay. It’s the latest in a long line of innovations from Amazon that focus on making certain shopping tasks easier and faster, such as Amazon Dash. The second, described by Samsung as a ‘digital playground’, is a physical experience that invites visitors to spend as much time as they want, giving them a space in which to socialise, learn and engage with what’s around them.

Payback time.

Sometimes creating value is about helping customers spend as little of their precious time as possible. They shop with you and you give them some time back that they can use in a way they choose. Hopefully, if you have the store experience to tempt them, they will then spend this gift of time with you. The right experience increases dwell time by engaging shoppers emotionally, and the more time customers spend with you, the higher chance a brand will have to build relationships and create conversion. Take a look at Lululemon or Ikea for examples of brands slowing down the store experience. Lululemon has dedicated space in its flagship stores for a regular program of yoga classes. Ikea uses different store formats strategically to deliver targeted experiences that engage shoppers with brand and product (it’s Dining Club pop-up, for example) and supports this with digital tools such as Ikea Place, to make shopping for furniture easier. Along with Samsung 837, they are both empowering a more considered use of time by shoppers, giving them a better chance to connect and engage.

Hidden value.

The kind of value you create by saving customers time, however, will not always be visible to consumers. By its very nature, it’s hidden in the smart functionality of your customer experience and customers will increasingly take these tools for granted. Progressive brands will build tools that do the basics of shopping for us (watch out, Amazon Go) and what we see as exciting and innovative now, will become the norm and not something that distinguishes a brand from its competitors. The value that brands deliver for customers around convenience is crucial – the foundations of any great customer experience – but to really engage and build long-lasting relationships with them we need to add defining value with experiences that meet customers other needs.

Climb the value pyramid.

Brands that want to create a retail experience with defining value, that gives people a compelling reason to choose its products or services, must start to climb the value pyramid.

Meeting customers’ basic rational needs is the first essential step to creating value for your customers and hopefully will have saved them time. Now is the chance to persuade them to spend this less-pressured leisure time with your brand, with an experience that responds to people’s emotional and societal needs. This is where physical store experiences can play a starring role. It’s a pyramid of needs and the further you get to the top with your thinking, the more defining your experience will be.

finders keepers start design value pyramid

Eco-lux chocolatiers, Mast Brothers, has created its stores as boutique chocolate factories. Visitors can experience first-hand the ethical, craft credentials the brand is founded on by watching the whole bean-to-bar chocolate making process. It’s cause-led shopping that reinforces the brand’s purpose at every touchpoint and leaves people feeling they’ve learnt something about a product many of us eat every day.

Read more about Start’s Value Pyramid by downloading the full version of this article: Finders Keepers, Find the Value in Your Customer Experience and Keep your Customers Coming Back.


Research shows that most people want a more meaningful relationship with a brand, but very few [17%] think brands deliver it. Consumers want more from a brand and its experience in return for the significant time, data and money they give them. Experiences that meet the Value Pyramid’s hierarchy of needs – rational, emotional and societal – and help us use our time in a way that suits us, will deliver a reciprocal, flow of value between customer and brand that benefits them both.

Retail experiences that are designed to meet people’s societal needs (at the pinnacle of our pyramid) deliver an almost anti-shopping spirit. They aim to enrich our lives above and beyond a simple purchase or trip to the shops. A handful of brands are realising this value and responding, using physical, store based experiences to make deeper connections and give something back to shoppers. The right experience here increases dwell time and the more time customers spend in your store, the higher chance a brand will have to build relationships and create conversion.

US outdoor lifestyle brand, Patagonia, delivers this kind of reciprocal value, holistically, through all its touchpoints and communications. The consistent and innovative way it lives its message through the experience it delivers reflects the ethics if its supply chain and instils its ecological message.

Finders, keepers

Value, ultimately, is defined by customers. They will decide whether a customer experience delivers it or not. A physical experience that goes beyond a place for transactions (but fully supports them through other channels), that harnesses community and provides something that online can’t, will play an important role in shaping their perceptions of value. At start we take a structure approach to designing stores that’s anchored in customer experience design. A customer-first approach that finds where in the customer experience these moments of value exchange are best delivered to meet needs and expectations. Our Delivery Framework ensures that any experience design – in-store, app, web – is inextricably linked to business goals, a brand’s purpose and consumer insights.


This is the short read. The full version of this article is here, with more insights into best practice brands, such as Lululemon, Ikea and Patagonia, and how they create lasting value through their customer experiences. You can also download an example of Start’s Delivery Frameworkand start planning how your brand can deliver defining value.

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Want to talk to someone now? email or call Will Hawkins directly on +44 (0)7834620555

Kevin Gill Retail Director, Start