Clients frequently approach HawkPartners with the same question: How do we build an effective and consistent customer experience across our multiple channels?

Companies with a retail presence have been evolving their store designs to create experiential shopping opportunities for customers, much like Apple or Williams Sonoma. The goal is for the retail stores to integrate their own (sometimes competitive) online channels into the overall customer experience.

Through our work with these clients, we have identified three best practices that drive a successful retail experience in an omnichannel world.

1. Both the design and sales associate mindset need to align with the customer perspective. Retailers need to think in terms of “how do you want to shop our store today?” as opposed to “what brings you in today?” Not everyone wants to shop the same way, and there are myriad approaches to shopping in many of today’s experience-driven retail environments.

A Venn diagram containing intersecting circles. The top circle says Customer: personalize the experience based on how the individual wants to shop. The left circle says Design: ensure retail elements support multiple approaches to shopping. The right circle says Sales Associate: approach customers from the perspective of how they want to shop.

2. Build experience centers and/or technology elements into an experiential store design. Design elements that are integrated with other channels generate differentiation and increase value within retail shopping environments.

Pictured: three main points with icons and text. The top point says "Clearly and visually identify experiences / technology, as they often go unnoticed." The middle point says "Offer a personalized experience via sales associates." The bottom point says "Leverage social media to extend the customer experience."

3. Deliver customization, frequently a key component in experiential retail designs. Although true customization can be hard for many retailers to effectively deliver, customization in the eye of the customer does not always have to be infinitely flexible.  For example, providing the customer with an opportunity to assemble a product from a fixed number of existing parts can create a successful “custom” experience – think Chipotle burritos or Pottery Barn furniture design.


In an omnichannel world, these key practices can differentiate a brand’s retail experience from its own online channels and those of direct competitors.