Consumers' Involvement on (Re)Engineering Store Design: A Cloud Approach

Consumers' Involvement on (Re)Engineering Store Design: A Cloud Approach

Gianpiero Di Blasi (Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy) and Eleonora Pantano (Middlesex University London, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8297-9.ch002


The emerging need to make more attractive physical stores for catching new clients and maintaining the existing ones pushes retailers to develop efficient practices for acquiring knowledge from consumers and involving them in the points of sales' design. The final users' needs and preferences are considered a core in design process. This chapter proposes a system for involving consumers in the store design process through an innovative cloud participatory platform. It is a low cost hardware/software architecture offering a user-friendly interface able to be adopted by audiences with different background. Results show the consumers' interest to contribute in the design by using such technologies and providing a large amount of detailed information useful for future appealing stores' development. Finally, this chapter shows how the inclusion of modern low-cost game technologies in retail industry might provide ripper effects in several disciplines such as human-computer interaction, marketing, and management.
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In recent years, marketing orientation has dramatically shifted from a product orientation to a consumer orientation (Tajeddini, 2010), by considering consumers as the core of the process. According to past studies (Wright et al., 2006), putting end-users perspective, with emphasis on their experience, as the starting point for the design represents the basic element for successful strategies. This approach is able to define new strategies that posit consumers’ needs and preferences as the fundamental for developing new successfully products and services (Tajeddini, 2010; Reychav and Weisberg, 2009), by actively involving final users into the design (Iversen et al., 2012; Bullinger et al., 2010; Nuttavuthisit, 2010; Bonner, 2010). To achieve this goal, the business activities are mainly directed to meet consumers’ expectations, by identifying, analysing, understanding and answering their needs in through understanding their preferences and expectations. In this direction, a successful strategy is devoted to identify the best practice for involving them in the service/product co-creation process. In fact, their active participation increases the acceptance of the final product (Wang et al., 2011; Lian and Lin, 2008). Hence, understanding consumers’ involvement allows marketers and developers to create new customized products and services with benefits for consumers’ acceptance (Wang et al., 2006; Edvardsson et al., 2012).

Modern technologies enhance this process by both offering novel and exciting platforms able to catch users’ attention and motivate them to be active participants in the design process, and providing more visual information and interactive tools (Kim et al., 2007). For instance, immersive technologies support designers in deeply understanding the expectations and perceptions of end-users through a realistic experience able to solicit the knowledge sharing (both from consumer to consumer and from consumer to designer), with benefits for the quality of the final outcome (Loke and Robertson, 2009).

Since previous studies outlined significant differences between retailers’ opinions and consumers’ needs regarding the elements able to improve the shopping experience (Backstrom and Johansson, 2006), identifying the best practice for integrating the two perspectives is emerging as a critical factor for the design of new efficient stores. For instance, consumers pay more attention towards layout, price, products selection, whereas retailers mainly focus on technological solutions for enhancing design elements (Backstrom and Johansson, 2006; Kourouthanassis et al., 2007). For this reason, a successful approach to design requires a strong dialog between the different perspectives coming from different backgrounds (Wright et al., 2006; Dahan and Hauser, 2002). Previous researches on improving the physical store tested the effectiveness of the new solutions by inviting consumers to physically visit it and express judgments on the aesthetic and shopping experience, thus after the effective realization (Wang et al., 2011; Vieira, 2010). This procedure is expensive in terms of cost and time. Other studies tried to test the consumers’ preferences before the effective realization, for instance in the designing of shopping centres, by exploiting the use of virtual reality tools (Borgers et al., 2010; Parker and Lehmann, 2011), and applying the subsequent results to the actual design. In this case, the developer has not a direct interaction with consumers and only take into account their final suggestions.

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