Lessons Grocers Can Learn From Department Stores: Lesson Six—Customer Journey

The customer journey is the intended story that unfolds as guests walk around and experience the store. This starts with the view from the street and the entrance, then continues with how they walk through the store, pay for their purchases and exit. It’s everything guests see and touch along the defined path, where each aisle creates vistas and focal points that draw guests to the next stage of their journey.

Grocery: An engaging journey is virtually impossible because of the walls of continuous cold cases and promotional endcaps that create vistas more than 100 feet long with few, if any, focal points. Guests shop the never-ending outside perimeter and must memorize the maze of gondolas in the center of the store. They’re left on their own to create “journeys” based merely on their shopping needs.

Department stores: Main entrances feature high volume/margin products, then guests traverse a series of rooms/departments. The rooms limit sightlines to a 30- to 40-foot vista, allowing a story to be created for each department. Aisles lead in the four compass directions from one room to the other, encouraging guests to wander, browse and discover more offerings.

Advice: Identify the intended customer journey for each guest profile and how the story of your brand should unfold. Does the aisle vista lead to a set of stock doors, or is it purposefully centered on a service offering, featured promotion or brand? Plan the cadence of messages around key moments of pause and physical touchpoints. Add surprise and delight by breaking up the long center store runs. What if the wine tasting or demo kitchen was in the center? A great story is memorable.

This is Lesson Six of “Lessons Grocers Can Learn From Department Stores.” Make sure to check out Lessons One, Two, Three, Four, and Five if you haven’t already.

Andrew McQuilkin

For over 30 years, Andrew has served in key design leadership roles in the retail industry. In his role as Retail Leader, Andrew is responsible for leading the retail design and architecture team’s expertise in branding, store planning, interior design, merchandising, building architecture and rollout for retail clients. Andrew has extensive knowledge and background in the design and implementation of department stores, vendor shops, specialty stores, large format and discount stores with award winning retail designs including Store of the Year Awards in 1995, 2000, 2001 and 2003.