What is 'Experience Design': The Future of Retail

What is 'Experience Design': The Future of Retail | FENIX

Experience design is about putting your customers at the heart of any design. Learn how to use customer experience design for retail with FENIX.

What is Experience Design? The Future of Retail

Experience design is about putting your customers at the heart of your retail store or hospitality venue design. Whether you run a big department store, or small town boutique, eliciting an emotional response from your customers is the future of retail, and is proving to drive sales. 

We’ve worked with retail brands who have designed their dream stores using FENIX innovative materials, so we’ve created a guide to using experience design when building your store or venue to help maximize sales in your retail space, just like those we’ve worked with.

What is Experience Design?

Experience design helps drive the design of a space and the products or services you’re looking to promote. It helps to create experiences for people by looking to:

  • Solve a problem
  • Encourage a positive emotional response
  • Promote sales, usage or behavior

Experience design can be used for everything, whether that’s designing a product itself, the workplace in which it’s designed and made, or the actual store it’ll be sold in. The experiences your customers will go through depend on your business;, are they looking to purchase a product? Do they need custom service support? Is your service interactive?

Each experience needs individual thought to make sure you’re getting the most out of each element of your store or venue.

three people planning experience design


Why is Experience Design so Important?

You should remember that experience design is about the end-user to understand how important it is. It’s much more than making the customer journey easier and nicer, it’s about shaping the way the user/customer feels throughout.

Your customer will always have an experience with your business, whether it’s the product or service, as it will have a lasting impression on them. And it’s up to you whether that’s a positive or negative impression.

When planning your store or venue, you want to consider every single interaction the customer will face, and think strategically about each of them individually, and all them as a whole.

How to do the Experience Design Process

It can be hard to think about every element of your store or venue when it comes to experience design, and luckily the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford proposed a five-stage thinking process that should help you understand how to place experience design at the heart of your work.

  • Empathize- research your users needs, beliefs, interests, emotions
  • Define- state your users needs and wants clearly
  • Ideate- challenge any assumptions made on how to solve the problem and create new and innovative ideas that you think will
  • Prototype- implement your new ideas through concepts e.g. pop up stores, 3D models, in existing venues
  • Test- try your solutions out, this is most beneficial when conducted on customers and not your employees

You can, of course, switch up this process depending on what you’re using experience design for. For example, between stages three and four you could ask a focus group about the different ideas you have before creating a prototype so that you can eliminate any that people aren’t interested in. Similarly, you may test your ideas and find they don’t work, and then you’re back to the drawing board.

But the important thing to keep in mind throughout are stages one and two, what is it your users need and want? What matters most to them and are you using that to drive your ideas or are you simply producing ideas that you love.

Tools and Techniques to Use in Each Experience Design Stages


  1. Desk research- understand your customer through online research and data
  2. Interviews- ask your target audience directly what it is they need, want and feel
  3. Surveys- an easy way to ask all of those important questions


  1. Personas- create a ‘fictional’ character that defines everything you learnt from your research
  2. Experience Map- this maps out your fictional characters journey once they step into your store or venue


  1. Mind-mapping- a visual technique that establishes relationships between the problem your team is trying to solve and potential solutions. 
  2. Storyboarding- create a visual story that presents their ideas and the possible outcomes of those ideas, to help understand what works and what needs improvement
  3. Crazy eights- get your team to create eight ideas in eight minutes, this should really push your team to create ideas outside those initial ones they had


  1. Pop-up stores- instead of changing an entire store, why not try a temporary pop up store that uses your idea and tests it out?
  2. 3D models- create a model version of what your experience would look like, and analyze it to see if it would actually work, or ask a sample of customers what they think
  3. Existing stores- if you’re making simple changes, or are just happy to change an entire store, then using your existing space as a prototype can help you picture your idea in reality


  1. Consumers- if you’re testing a physical space or product, then try it out on consumers and ask for feedback afterwards
  2. Focus groups- if you’re just wanting to test an idea, or a 3D model, then work with a focus group to gather opinions
  3. Test, and test again- Experience design is an ongoing process that should be tested time and time again as consumer behavior changes


Experience Design Will Develop and is the Future of Retail

Experience design is something you should revisit time and time again. It’s a relatively new design concept, and with consumer wants and needs changing all the time, it will only change and develop in the future.

That’s why experience design is the future of retail, as online shopping is now the most popular way of shopping. When consumers do choose to go out and shop in retail stores, they want to make a day of it, they want to feel something when doing so, meaning experience design plays a huge role in encouraging consumers to actually shop in-store.

retail shop layout

We hope you found this guide on experience design helpful. As with any big design project, we always recommend speaking to a professional first. For more information about FENIX innovative materials and how you can use them in your retail space or hospitality venue, check out our about page and order your free sample today.

You're using an unsupported browser and some features may not work properly. Please upgrade to a modern browser, such as Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or Safari.