Creating Meaningful Customer Experiences in a Digital, Always-On World

As an architect and now retail guru and author of the new book RETAIL (r)EVOLUTION, David Kepron says his job has always been about creating meaningful places that foster relationships between people and brands. Says Kepron, “Architects have been the creators of places for a long time – they’re where people gather.” So it makes sense that Kepron is now helping retailers design better places for people to shop, and recently spoke at the #conext The Connected Commerce Show in Lille, France about the evolution of today’s retail place.


David Kepron (on left) with shoe designer Rudy Houque at the recent #conext The Connected Commerce Show in Lille, France.

Kepron says retail today is all about connected commerce and using technology to enhance the shopping experience. For Kepron, a key driver of relevant customer experiences in a digital world is using “technempathy”– a term he coined to describe the use of technology in the service of empathic extension. At the Lille show, he said he met with a young designer who creates shoes that change color. “Now you can use your smartphone to scan anything in your environment o sample the color, and digitally apply it to the straps on a pair of shoes.”

He explains that in today’s always-on world, our brains adjust to constant stimulation and interruptions. But, he says, “This presents both a challenge and an enormous opportunity for retailers and brands. There’s never been a more important time to create places that are meaningful in the midst of this proliferation of noise: visual, digital and so many places we go to shop.”






Kepron at a Creative SpaceLab in Paris (in photo – Agnes Latreille de Lavarde)

As more consumers choose to go online to shop, Kepron says many retail brands are turning to AR (Augmented Reality) and 3D to create a more meaningful in-store experience. He says in Lille, French company Creative Space Lab demonstrated AR and real–time 3D modeling software that allows you to look at what appears to be a simple rectangle, but by wearing AR glasses, you see specific information about it being a sink or a couch or some other object. The image of what you are looking at is composed in a virtual representation of the space. Says Kepron, “Often our biggest problem as designers of places is getting our clients to imagine what we are trying to explain to them. They aren’t as capable of visualizing in their head what we are using words, pictures and renderings to explain.”


Author Brian Solis’ new book “X: The Experience Where Business Meets Design,” recently released.

Brian Solis, the author of X: The Experience When Business Meets Design. HOW TO DESIGN A MEANINGFUL CUSTOMER EXPRERIENCE IN EVERY MOMENT OF TRUTH, explains the title of his new book: “Companies got too use to structuring business around touch points and transactions without realizing the importance of the experience.” He points to Apple as a brand who offers a great experience. “When you come to Apple, you’re already enamored by the brand, and the new signage is the iPad. They’ve competed for your attention long before you walk into the store. So the function of the store is to make it easier to funnel the product into your hand.”

He says in place of counters, lines and registers, we now see things in stores like something called the “Sandbox” at Telstra’s flagship store in Sydney, Australia.


The ‘sandbox’ at Telstra’s Sydney flagship store (photo by Solis)

Solis says the table is a like a giant iPad that features avibrant and interactive service, where customers can compare handsets and other products by placing them on a digital display to access information such as price and reviews. “This is when technology becomes an enabler. Sometimes, people don’t want to talk to a salesperson but an app.”

Laura Davis-Taylor is Executive VP of Experience at MaxMedia, a retail experience design firm in Atlanta, and says there are so many new ways today for retailers to engage with consumers, and says 3D and AR are becoming two of the most popular. For example, Davis-Taylor says Lowe’s Holoroom is a “home improvement simulator” that uses augmented reality to help customers visualize what a renovated space might look like before they ever start a remodeling project. And Tommy Hillfiger offers technology to shoppers who otherwise might never attend a runway show a chance to view close-up and personal the Fall runway show of the Hilfiger Collection.

Says Davis-Taylor, “Ninety-five percent of purchase decisions aren’t rational. A lot of that happens in the unconscious world. Soretailers have to light up the brain in the right ways for something to matter. Things happen when we stop people and delight them in unexpected ways.”

For more information on how Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE platform can help retailers forge new relationships with their customers in the age of experience, visit our Consumer Goods & Retail knowledge center.


Mary Gorges

Technology Writer
Mary Gorges is a former TV and print journalist with her work having appeared on CNN, in The Huffington Post and in TechCrunch. She lives in Silicon Valley and enjoys writing stories about technology that are fun to read, visual and – when she can – filled with humor. Before becoming her own boss, she worked in PR at Intel and led communications for five SVPs at Cisco. She has her MBA from Northwestern University.