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, where in the customer experience it can be created and how physical stores can play their part, is the pivotal challenge for today’s brands and retailers.

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 understand how precious a commodity time has become help us manage it in the best way possible. Either saving it, with super-enhanced convenience, or spending it well, through heightened leisure experiences. As consumers, we’ve got escalating expectations of 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 shoppers’ 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, you give them some time back and, if you have the kind store experience to tempt them, they might then spend this gifted time with you. Successful experiences increase dwell time by engaging shoppers emotionally. So, the more time customers spend with you, the higher chance you have to build relationships and create conversion. Lululemon and Ikea are great at slowing down the store experience. Lululemon with a dedicated space in its flagship stores for a regular programme of yoga classes. Ikea uses different store formats strategically to deliver targeted experiences that engage shoppers with brand and product (its Dining Club pop-up, for example) and supports them with digital tools like Ikea Place, to make shopping for furniture easier. Along with Samsung 837, they’re both empowering a more considered use of time, giving shoppers better chances to connect and engage.


Hidden value.


The kind of value you create by saving customers’ time, however, will not always be visible to them. By its very nature, it’s hidden in the smart functionality of your 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. 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 other needs.


Climb the value pyramid.


What needs? Well, brands that want to create a retail experience with defining value, that gives 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 shoppers something back. 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 of 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 structured 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 Framework and start planning how your brand can deliver defining value.

Kevin Gill Retail Director, Start