16th May 2017
Studying shoppers in a live environment has enabled the largest retail estate in Europe to transform its stores, reports Jo Roberts
Four different store designs have been tested by Post Office customers to come up with the best shopping experience, explained Sonal Vaja, the Post Office’s former senior store design and development manager, at Retail Design Expo.
Speaking at a presentation at the event in London’s Olympia, she told the audience: “We leveraged store sales date to tailor the product, the promotions, and understand exactly what our customer’s needs were, so we could promote the right product at the right place, at the right time, to deliver an optimised customer experience. Each store varied in cost, scale and ambition so we could test different elements for each store.”
The results from the study have enabled the Post Office to determine which design elements should be rolled out to its 11,500 stores across the UK.
Speaking alongside Vaja, Jonathan Rhodes, head of insight at design agency Linney, told the audience that real-time insights have helped to transform the Post Office.
One of the stores that Rhodes and his team studied was in Oxford: “The Post Office in Oxford had been there for more than 100 years but was one of the worst retail experiences, from a structural point of view, that you can imagine. We spent several weeks looking at how customers experience the brand - looking at how their customer journey manifests itself.”
Stress levels of frequent and infrequent customers were tested both before and after design changes. Rhodes said the insight-led designs, such as better signage, have resulted in a calmer shopping experience and higher sales. “They are compelling results - increased number of customers served within five minutes and increased ease-of-use scores. There has been an almost 20% reduction of aggregate stress levels with almost 9% increase in sales during the trial period,” he said.
Many of the changes made to the rest of the estate have been around clearer messaging. Some of the simplest changes have been the most effective, explained Vaja. The fascias of Post Office branches within WHSmith storeshave been changed - and customers have said that this small design change has made the Post Office a more credible brand.
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