Designing the Next Generation of Retail Places (Part 5 of 5)

5 Checkpoints for Next-Gen Wireless Retail Places

The retail industry is morphing incredibly fast.

Consider for a moment how quickly video rental stores and bookstores have disappeared. A reason that brick-and-mortar wireless retailers have yet to feel the full impact of this tectonic shift is not only because people still like to try smartphones and mobile devices hands-on, but because the market being served is still growing (even if it’s growing slower than it used to).

By the end of 2012, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth, and by 2016 there will be 1.4 mobile devices per capita. Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2011 – 2016

But the market itself might soon realize that it doesn’t really need small stores to get the gadgets it wants -- simple transactions can be made online. The devices can be felt and tried at Apple or Best Buy (see Showrooming)… heck, even supermarkets now include mobile departments.

Consumers still need the whole experience, an experience provided by the retail ecosystem: inspiration, relationship, advice, education, community… (see Omnichannel).

At iQmetrix, our goal is to provide the technology that can assist retailers with all the existing tasks required in the new retail ecosystem. If the following checkpoints are created within the store, both retailers and customers will benefit greatly from the next generation of wireless retail places. 


Bringing online information and cost transparency back to the stores.


Allowing transaction part to efficiently take place anywhere in-store or out-of-store.


Recreating staff credibility, with the use of information transparency and contextual activities, which to build solid staff-customer relationships.


Providing entertaining, educational and contextual content in innovative and engaging forms.


Creating various opportunities for social participation and community creation.

Below is an easy-to-follow infographic that summarizes these 5 elements and illustrates potential scenarios.

The reality of this this industry is that retailers are very dependent on their respective carrier(s) -- their products, branding, store layouts and design specifications. However, there are quite a few steps retailers can make to improve the customer experience within the carrier framework. The goal of this 5-part article series and the suggested reading below is to provide a basic conceptual understanding of how things can be improved and what technical tools, behaviors and layouts can help.

On the other hand, retailers can ask carriers for changes, upgrades, modifications of their stores, if they feel confident the changes will enhance the business and the customer experience. 

In an analogy to Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs Pyramid, the next generation of wireless stores must have a reliable retail management platform and digital signage at the base (physiological needs; need for safety), interactive retail and omnichannel technology in the middle (need for belonging, confidence and relationships), and contextual in-store edutainment (problem solving and self-actualization) at the top of the pyramid.

In essence, wireless retail places could and should become places of communication, where customers would not only come when they are in need of a device or a service, but in need of inspiration, activities and a community. Realization of this whole model would ultimately elevate the store to Third Place status.

And at that point, the store is no longer just a store. It’s a place that people are drawn to -- not just to buy, but also -- for reasons entirely their own. This is a next-generation retail place.

Want to learn more?

Alen Puaca is creative director at iQmetrix. Over the past 18 years, Alen has worked on media and experience designs for virtual and physical spaces, merging the two in seamless experiences. He was part of design teams that delivered a number of themed attractions and exhibits around the world, including Canadian Pavilion at EXPO 2005, BC Canada House at the Torino Olympics, and Al Khobar, the biggest science center in the Middle East. Prior to joining iQmetrix, Alen worked with DAE-VANOC core design team on the design of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Ceremonies.

Previous articles in this series:
Part 1 of 5 - Introduction to Next Generation Retail Places
Part 2 of 5 - Qualities of Successful Public Places
Part 3 of 5 - Guiding Principles for Place Design
Part 4 of 5 - The Basic Areas of the Retail Environment