First hand research about the world of retail.
I felt it was essential to conduct lots of primary research before starting any designing in this project. I visited many department stores, spent a lot of time in John Lewis looking at the current experience and looking for errors when the experience could be improved and enhanced, and also conducted surveys and interviews with shoppers and retail employees.
When visiting John Lewis I noticed that the store had lots of bare walls, everything was white from the side of the atrium to the escalators. Unlike Harrods or Selfridges where gold, marble and metallic tones are used around escalators, John Lewis had matte white painted surfaces. This could be to make the store for more relatable and accessible to a wide range of shoppers, instead of just high-end customers or tourists. Looking at Selfridges, I found a lot of interesting and unique visual merchandising Solutions that made the store feel much more like a curated experience. Shelving and the way products were displayed made products feel like artefacts that I wanted to pick up and touch. Due to the nature of department store layouts, many department stores have large central walkways with tables in the centre that have clusters of products on. Different department stores did things differently; while some had a strong emphasis on creating a nicely designed arrangement, others try to stack in his many of the product as they could fit. The art direction of these central walkway tables depended on the store and product it was carrying. John Lewis had a lot of stands and poster racks With the graphics promoting current events in the store, current offers and promotions. This meant there was a lot of graphic design situated throughout the store and opportunity in the project to take advantage of these areas to design.
I created a survey that I sent out to get a variety of opinions on department stores in general and John Lewis specifically. The survey asked questions such as ‘ what is your favourite department store and why?’ this allowed me to get a good understanding of what people like in department stores and what possible features John Lewis should be taking advantage of. I also asked a lot of questions about John Lewis and the John Lewis brand in general to get a good understanding of how people felt about it. I asked if people knew about their price guarantee and how often they visit the store. This was useful in understanding how John Lewis shoppers behave as this would be a key demographic that the project needs to appeal to. I also spent a lot of the survey asking people about specific product categories to see which products or sections of the store could be significantly enhanced.
The responses were very interesting as some of the questions received answers that I was expecting, many questions received entirely different responses to my own which created some useful insights that I could latch onto for my response to the brief. As a lot of the people who responded to my survey were people on my course, the majority of age ranges that filled out the survey were 22-25 meaning I had to be careful with how I interpreted responses as they may not be representative of all John Lewis shoppers