Designing For Customer Engagement
Creating retail environments that stimulate the senses and connect with the time-pressed shopper have become paramount for architects, designers and shopping center owners. Consumers today can buy anything they like on their smartphones or computers; today’s physical retail environment competes with any other destination. What the physical environment has that the virtual one does not is a sense of place that gives consumers an experience. Today, that place must go beyond commerce and venture into emotionally connecting with visitors to a center. Creating a sense of belonging, engagement or community is important to today’s consumers. When coupled with marketing and leasing, design can have an impact on the buying habits and frequency of return visits that shoppers have with a center.
“Retail projects are requiring a different approach as far as what they mean to the customer anymore,” says Sy Perkowitz, principal with KTGY in Irvine, California. “What we want is something that is an attraction; something that brings you out to the retail center as opposed to internet shopping or other activities that you may be involved in. The need to be physically present at a retail project has changed. It used to be out of necessity, and today it’s more about wanting to be there because you’re interested in communicating with other people face-to-face.”