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Published 23 Sep 2016

Principles of pervasive retail application design

By Jonathan Morgan

Principles that guide designers in creating applications for use in smart retail environments. The principles are the product of a structured review and analysis of more than 200 research studies, papers, and journal articles.

Be sure to check out for in-depth explanations, guidelines and references to all these principles.

Source: The Principles of Pervasive Retail Application Design

  1. Define the Actionable Context

    When designing applications for use in a ‘smart’ retail environment, it’s especially important to identify and prioritize the information that defines a shoppers’ “context”. Take time to understand the full breadth of contextual information available to you and you’re far more likely to find opportunities to support the shoppers’ need at a particular moment in time.

  2. Earn Their Trust

    Earning trust is difficult. It’s a long-term relationship nurtured by persistent and consistent good experiences. Lose a customers' trust in pervasive, beacon-powered applications, and they will be afraid to walk in (or near) your store. You thought building trust in eCommerce was tough, you haven't seen anything yet.

  3. Give them what the real world can't

    Provide personalized tools and features that reduce the amount of thought and effort it takes to budget, plan and shop. Adapt interfaces to fit mental models of physical shopping -- borrow from what we have learned from eCommerce but execute specifically to support in-store, customer centric experiences.

  4. Reduce complexity of the physical environment

    Pervasive applications should simplify complex environments, much like subway maps simplify the view of a city. Complexity increases frustration, which diminishes the perceived value and loyalty to the brand. Brands benefit by helping shoppers focus on what's important to the shopper.

  5. Let them focus on the real-world

    Don't unnecessarily distract shoppers from natural interactions with the environment. Shoppers' primary focus is on their physical surroundings - work in the background and be there when they need you most. Design for contextually relevant attention through visual, auditory and haptic feedback.

  6. Emulate & augment the direct product experience

    Create a robust sensory experience with virtual products to allow self-guided exploration of the elements of the product that the shopper needs to make confident purchases.

  7. Keep the shopper moving

    Minimize distractions inherent to the environment and keep them moving to allow them to find essential products quickly. When we keep them moving towards their goal, we free their time to explore.

  8. Put the shoppers in control

    Accept the fact that pervasive applications can't be accurate 100% of the time. Allow shoppers to step in, turn off auto-pilot, and take control for themselves.

  9. Design for hyper-relevant experiences

    As our knowledge of our individual customers matures, we have the opportunity to shape hyper-relevant, deeply personal experiences -- ones that demonstrate that we “get them” and will give them what they need. We must provide value greater than the perceived risk of giving up information about themselves.

  10. Be fun, smart, attentive and efficient

    Design truly unique, useful and rewarding experiences. Make them fun, do some of the thinking for them, and most importantly, assume the shopper has better things to with their time than look at a screen.

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