A few of the team were lucky enough to attend this year’s Retail Design Expo. After last year’s success we couldn’t wait to go back and get inspired. We've found it to be a great way to refresh our creative minds and take a moment to think about the bigger picture again.

We sat in many of the talks that were taking place in Theatres 1 and 2, and while they were all great we thought we would pick out two of the talks that really stood out for us.

Post Office

With their refreshed brand identity Post Office had an opportunity to not just update their brand throughout their estate (roughly around 11,000 units across Europe) but to dramatically improve the customer journey experience.

With the use of Go Pro cameras and heart monitors they were able to test real customers in real scenarios to see where the stress levels rose and where the customers hesitated when not knowing where to go! This gave them fantastic insights and design directions in terms of key areas where improvements could be made for their initial trial stores.

With the use of colours to segregate different zones, clear signage, and refreshed colourways throughout the store they could make a significant impact on the in-store experience. They could then test how the new stores compared to their initial results and below are some of the key stats:

  • Customers served within 5 minutes +30%
  • Ease of use scores +36%
  • Stress levels – 19%
  • Sales +8.7%

With these stats they were able to sell-in to the business that it’s worth investing in the estate!


The High Street coffee brand have recently launched their new store concept, but they began their talk with very open and honest thoughts about the look and feel of their existing estate. They spoke of the importance of always challenging how you could improve and talked about how external design consultancies had helped them with this.

Key issues were that stores were:

  • Over use of the Costa red
  • Too dark inside the store
  • Overcrowded
  • Over messaged

They soon realised that as the UK’s favourite coffee shop they should be displaying more confidence as a brand and didn’t need to fill the windows with messaging.

Three key things that they have focused on in their new concept:

  • Reduction of the Costa red across their shopfront, with the red only used at the customer entrance.
  • Glazed shop fronts left clear to allow light into store as well as giving passing customers visibility of the hustle and bustle in-store environment.
  • Strategically placed graphics for particularly stressful points or dwell points of the customer journey.
  • Interesting and engaging graphical features that informed customers of their coffee heritage.

The trial store at Wandsworth showed like for like sales had gone up, which enabled them to gain the support of the business to start rolling out the new concept.

Overall conclusions

From all the talks we attended it was clear that there is more of a focus on customer experience than ever and that whilst designers can quickly pick up on how improvements can be made the key challenge from a design point of view is being able to deomonstrate how the design changes will deliver business benefits and return on investment.

With customers subconsciously challenging and comparing services across different sectors it’s important for brands to consider every touchpoint and not just compare themselves to direct competitors but to other leading brands too.


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