3 steps towards a Customer Journey Map and what it can do for Retail Design (or Restaurant Design):

Every retail design project and every good retail designer that strives to involve the customer should include a customer map. The map will help define precisely what you as a retailer want the customer to see, do, and feel at a given time. It also helps you fully understand the customers’ needs as they move through the buying process. This process also puts you fully in the mindset of your customer base and may unveil underlying traits that your retail design project should entail.

To start this you will need a developed floor plan (as that will come later) but for now, just as a place to take notes. If you have an existing location it also helps to sit and observe how your customers currently interact with your store.

Step 1. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What drives them to your store? Is it out of need for a commodity or is it an impulse as they walk by. Make that your first note. If they arrive at the storefront what will they be looking for? Is it a brand logo that they understand to be you? Is it the smell of a fragrance? Lighting? Define and note this. Once your new customer enters the space how will they be greeted or awarded for taking the plunge? If you think they will need time or direction to orient themselves to the new surroundings make a note of it and continue. You will need to work through this process throughout your store, thinking of the retail customer from the entrance, to the check out and all the way to stepping out of the store.

Step 2. Once you have a completed list of notes defining the customers’ needs within the retail design, develop the list further by inserting potential, helpful, or experiential interaction points that you would want to employ. Perhaps there is a heritage story that helps explore your products quality over another’s. Is there a new product that they must see? Interject these into the stream of the journey so that the customer will have a rich experience for the length of their stay.

Step 3. This is where the retail designer will lay all of the above needs, experiences and touch points out on a floor plan within the space. Intersperse the textual journey on the plan, thinking or sightlines, know obstructions and the natural flow that a person wants to take until you have thoughtfully employed (or rejected) your entire list within the space.

Congratulations! Now you have a great starting point to design a fantastic look that strategically considers YOUR customer!

The Customer Journey, successfully implemented, will be able to step your customer through the store, confident in the shopping experience, engaged with your product and much more likely to make a purchase.