Letting The Kids Run The Show: Retail Experience and Design)

Shopping with kids can be a challenging experience, but out of the necessity the two must co-exist. So the CX team at Optus asked themselves “what if we focus less on the process of selling and more on creating an inviting retail environment where families want to shop”?

With this in mind, they placed children at the heart of creating the experience – by engaging with kids and asking them what they want, they created a space where parents can relax, and kids can have a little fun. Utopia.

Hear about the process, what they learned, and how you can involve kids, and the not so young, in the creation of retail spaces, products and experiences.

“So what is someone who designs phsyical spaces here at a digital conference? I’m asking myself right now!”

Why provide physical spaces when you can buy things online? People still buy stuff. Why aren’t we evolving the experience in physical spaces?

Pirch is a store in NYC that lets you buy kitchen and bathroom things after using them. You can have a shower and cook things, before buying shower heads and stoves!

This is a case study… how can you change the way people operate in big corporations…?

Optus need to build an in-store space for kids. ok…

In large businesses there are ideation sessions, projects start getting some momentum as an idea, people start getting excited because something sounds interesting, you hit stakeholder input, then journey mapping starts to ensure we use up post-it notes, then the design agency gets involved and they have their own workshop………….. so a vast amount of people are already doing a bunch of work and nobody really knows what the goal is yet. People don’t have a shared understanding of scope.

Problem of doing any projects with kids: we don’t know how kids think! We haven’t been eight years old for a really long time! Nothing was digital back then, except MAYBE a watch.

So we are completely unqualified to build a kids area in a store. Nobody on the project was really qualified to do it. Everyone was just running on their creative cognitive bias. They had their own idea of the truth of the project and latched onto that.

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Teegan Lincoln @teeganlincoln

Humanity is the new luxury. Ben Hawkins #Direction16

12:46 PM – 11 Nov 2016

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So Ben brought in a new team – kids!

They asked kids what they thought about shopping. What was their least-favourite thing? Going shopping at all… Waiting for mum to finish shopping… Parents wanted the kids to be safe while they were buying things. People just didn’t really like going shopping.

Kids have totally different behaviours and dynamics. They wanted a group table, because kids will start on a separate table but almost immediately join any other kid in the vicinity – in ways adults just don’t do. Kids suggested the tablets and devices they were playing with should have been mounted under the tables, so they could hide down there while they used them.

So what’s next? People who are under 25… almost nobody in the room was in the age group. So they got people in for workshops. Three different groups said that if they could have anything at all in a store… they wanted puppies. A fourth group said a petting zoo.

Ben loves research, he loves designing physical spaces. And now… lunch!!!

 

(drum thundering) – Ben is someone who works at a very digital company as you can probably see, doing things that are decidedly analogue, and he’s a great champion of the physical world. I’m really looking forward to hearing about this project idea and some of the lessons, and I also think in any design project have a lot of value, but it is a great privieldge and a great joy to welcome to the stage my very dear friend, Ben Hawkins.

(audience applause) – Thanks very much, John, thank you.

Hey, look, thanks very much, John, that was great, thanks, and I’ve loved this mornings speakers. Let me just give you a heads up, okay.

So obviously there’s a question that you may be asking yourself right now, which is, ‘What the hell is somebody who designs physical spaces doing in Directions Conference?’ And it’s a question I’m asking myself right now (laughs). Okay, yeah, so.

Hey look, the concepts of bricks and mortar and digital have been kind of worlds apart, but the reality is that the future of successful retail is actually those worlds coming together.

It’s emerging, and for me, it’s been a huge education for me this morning to understand basically new ways of thinkin’.

This is something which I have up on my desk at the office actually.

It’s the first thing I see in the morning, which is basically, I have this kind of personal mantra, which is basically to create never been done before WTF memorable moments, because really that’s the things which mean the most to me. It’s about basically creatin’ these memorable moments for people.

This is a physical space.

Retail, as a result, hasn’t changed a huge amount, but people are changing cause they understand that you don’t need to go to retail anymore. You can get anything you want to online.

So basically people are just saying, ‘Well, what do you provide in a physical space which makes the experience different?’ Guess what, this is a store in New York called Pirch. People have been buying kitchens and stuff for their bathrooms for years, and nobody has changed the experience, and this guy said, “Well why don’t we do a store whereby you can come in and cook, cook in your own Kitchen you’re gonna buy.” And actually they bring chefs in and they actually choose these kitchens, as well, and cook in the kitchens.

And then underneath, yeah check this out, you buy your showerhead after you’ve had a shower in it. (laughter) Okay yeah. I didn’t have my swimmers on me at the time, but I was so tempted to go in naked.

Alright, okay, yeah.

But it’s a great experience.

You actually come out you feel.

You’ll probably pay the extra amount of money for the showerhead because you’ve had your shower. And what’s really interesting about this is I caught up with Jeffrey Sears, he’s the CO of this company, and he said something quite pertinent, and it’s relevant to this presentation, which is, he said, “Ben, what you have to realise is is that humanity is the new luxury.” And I didn’t think about it too much, but you’ll understand more as you go along. Come on, come on, Peeky.

Clicker’s not working, oh there we go.

Okay, so let’s understand.

What am I gonna talk about today for the next 15 minutes? You will have lunch in 15 minutes, I guarantee you. That’s my commitment to you.

Okay, yeah. (laughter)

Honestly, I just got a bit closer it’s just like this rumblin’ of stomachs.

Alright, okay, yeah.

And so this is a case study.

This is a case study to understand basically how thinking operates in large corporates, and maybe how we can change that.

Come on.

Okay, so basically, let’s understand this.

Ideas come from anywhere, and invariably in large organisations they come from basically prescribed meetings where people come in and they say, ‘Right, now we’re gonna have an ideation session. So now we have to think in it too.

And now we’re gonna do a spreadsheet, And I now we’re gonna something else.’ So people compartmentalise, and I just say, no, screw that, let’s get ideas from anywhere.

It just so happens this idea for the kids concept actually came from somebody walking down an aisle, we were just in the corridor, and this guy just said to me, “Hey, Ben, I’ve out tourin’ the mall,” for guys who know the northern beaches, “been out touring the mall there were kids and parents everywhere.

It was a friggin’ nightmare.

How do we change that experience?” and I went I don’t know, I don’t know.

So I thought well look the first thing I’ll do is, okay, yeah, is come on where am I pointin’? Oh sorry, one minute, my clicker something’s gone slow. We’ll come back to that one.

Can I come back, come back.

Sorry guys.

Right, not we got for one.

Cool.

So the first thing we do is we do all the objective research.

So we understand and this is a mandatory for any major project of this style.

And what were saying is we’ve got catchment of 296,000 customers, 10 million visits, 34% have young families in that area, 80% of children this is from last year’s data own a smartphone that’s obviously getting bigger. The average age of a smartphone ownership is 12 and getting younger.

54% of parents are actually concerned about their children just being part of that digital world.

Come on, this fricking clicker.

Oh, piss.

(laughter) Alright, anyway sorry so basically the digital guys got really excited and I work really closely with this guys and they went shit yeah we can go out and develop this great app.

And I was like yeah.

And it basically provides parents this kind of monitoring tool.

And that’s in development now.

And as a result of all of this excitement cause guess what, in a grey world of corporate worlds people are stuck on these grey, boring projects with these standard delivery time frames.

That all of a sudden you get this huge amount of enthusiasm from around the business, people saying I want to be part of that because it’s something has to do with kids and it’s much more excitin’ then the boring stuff I’m doing. And then as a result then we have to go through that classic challenge of come on baby, this is gonna work.

Stakeholder input, now obviously stakeholders in a large business they are vast so we need to be very careful about how we manage them.

So the first thing we do is is it gonna come up? Yes, okay cool.

So the first thing we do is we get the executive overview. God, that image is just (grunts) comes from a different world.

Right, yeah, okay.

So we go from the executive crew we get their input then we get the commercial guys to take a look at in strategy, they take a look at it.

I’m waiting for something to happen, okay.

Then the retail guys take a look at it and they say ‘so bacially, Ben you want to build this kids’ space in a retail store and yeah we got loads of problems out there simple idea, what do we do.’ They go out for coffee and talk about reality TV. Okay, yeah and then it’s gonna happen.

Alright, yeah then the journey mappers get involved, I love journey mappers they give me so much information and they use up 2000 post-it stickers every week, (laughter) alright, yeah. Which is their KPI, they don’t they fail miserably, yeah. (laughter) We all know that, and then we get the design agency involved and we say look we want this concept and they have their workshop.

(laughter) Alright, yeah. And they’re havin’ their workshop, and then the design agency say to me I can’t do this design work because I don’t have the journey mapping information. And I’m saying cool how ’bout you guys get together and have a great night and tell me what the outcome is. And they go cool no problem we’ll do that.

And they create their own outcome.

(laughter) Right there. So already okay, yeah we’ve got this vast amount of people in a short period of time working on something which we don’t actually know what the problem is yet. Some people have got different views on children. Some people think that children are like ewhat the left hand side is, other people think that children are like what the right hand side is.

(laughter) So how the hell do we get to this kind of classic position of basically finding out, how do we get to this spot? And the reality is this and it will work.

The reality is this, is that we were stuck in that classic fuzzy front end, now if you’re a designer you’ll take the top side, the top diagram with the fuzzy front end, if you’re actually a building or structural engineer you’ll take the bottom one cause a chance that, that one could be built.

So right, yeah. (laughter)

But the fact is that this fuzzy front end is an incredible chance, I’m looking for this synthesis so that we can actually get to that point of clarity and the reality is that we’ve got a major problem. And the problem is that this clicker’s really slow (laughs). It’s like got a huge delay.

There we go.

And this is the problem and this is actually my daughter she’s a major problem.

Alright, okay, yeah. (laughter)

Man teenagers, when she’s a teenager it’s gonna be my worst nightmare, anyway, right, but the problem is this, is that we don’t think like an eight year old, we don’t have a clue about thinking like an eight year old.

In fact we can’t even remember what it was like to be an eight year old.

In fact we’ve been outsourcing our head to our devices for the last number of years, we can’t even remember what we did last weekend.

So what are the chances of us remembering what it’s like to be an eight year old? And the reality is that come one, we’ve got a further problem and that is, when we were an eight year old, this I was an eight year old I wasn’t in the US, but when we were an eight year old life was very different. We had check and plaid and stripes, yeah.

And if somebody said digital, like one person might have had a watch.

(laughter) And everybody would crowd around looking at this bloody watch, right, yeah.

Be like wow, man.

So what the hell do we know, in fact as a result we are completely unqualified to actually do this project. Nobody in this business is actually qualified to do or build a kid’s area in store.

As a result we all suffer from this creative cognitive bias, where basically we see the world from our own eyes. We actually come up with our own truth, pretty much immediately.

And as a result we hang on to that truth if I was to say to all of you right now, okay we’re all gonna design a kids’ area, I guarantee you’ve probably already inserted a colour checked carpet in already.

(laughter) Because that’s your idea of a kids’ area and that’s cool. And that’s cool, and that’s nothing wrong with that, but the fact is that we all see the world from our own eyes. So I had to bring in a new team.

I actually got this photo from this morning from (mumbles). These kids actually were part of a research programme and I’m gonna show you this research programme now. This research programme was, I actually said to the business we don’t actually know, were not completely, were not qualified to do this job.

Let’s actually get the kids to design the space for us. We’ll just allocate a space they do it.

They actually pick the furniture, the fixtures they choose all their own tablet hardware, they choose all their own apps, they do everything. I had design agencies knockin’ on my door, saying give me invoices for $100,000, saying come one we’ll do that.

What are they qualified? – [Interviewer] What would you say if you could go into a store and have a section dedicated just for kids? – I would stay there all day.

(techno music) – [Interviewer] First ask you what your least favourite thing about going shopping, what would it be? – Going.

– Taking (laughs) the children with me (laughs). – I’m normally waiting for mom to stop shopping. – Yeah, I don’t like shopping.

(techno music) – [Man] And the store designer asked up to create a junior space in store.

(techno music) (techno music) (techno music) – [Man] Would you like to have this kind of stuff in a store, yeah? Would be cool? – It gets you distracted for awhile and gets you off your parent’s minds.

– So when we know they are like alright, I mean whatever they are looking at is appropriate to their age.

– It would allow parents to concentrate on whatever it is that we’re choosing or speaking to someone about. Because our kids would be occupied.

– It was awesome, it was futuristic, it was just bang on. – Yeah. – Right on.

Oh yeah mom, get distracted I’m just gonna go into that store for an hour.

(laughter) – So what we did is I literally handed over the reins, the sketches you saw in that piece there, were literally sketchin’ up on the night, so I actually removed all designers, everybody from the company out of the space and just said to them look, as if the information comes through we’ll start sketchin’ we’ll start moving, and actually we’ll start basically designing what they want. What’s the outcome? Well the outcome was really interesting.

Because what you do is, when we do this kind of research we find out things that we’d never believe we’d find before, so we actually thought we going in there to find out what apps the kids wanted and what hardware, in fact we actually ordered all the Apple hardware in advance and found out they actually chose Samsung on the evening. (laughter)

It was a bizarre thing, they all got like burnt fingers now. Anyway, right, but, okay. (laughter)

But the reality is that you find out okay, there was something which we never thought we’d experience, as much as we did on the evenings.

And that was, do you know when you go in for If you’ve ever had a serious, dental problem, and like you’ve got this abcess and it’s throbbing and it’s that pain and it’s horrible and it stays with you.

Well that’s the sort of feeling that families or households were getting when somebody said let’s go shopping.

(laughter) Okay, yeah. And so as a result we needed to respond to that and address that in some way and also so that’s the origin of thought process but the outcome also was that we had the kids actually chose and designed they actually designed all their own furniture. Here’s another one for you, we actually had separate tables and group tables, and the interesting thing is that when kids come together they start on separate tables and literally within a minute they join a group table. And this is complete strangers, kids didn’t know each other. It would be the equivalent of me going to a cafe sitting down at a table for two of us, my laptop and then picking up after 30 seconds walking over to you and just goin’ ‘hey do you wanna play?’ (laughter) Alright, yeah. And so but that’s what happened they actually, the group dynamic was really huge, they demanded a group table, they demanded basically this group activity, one person owned Minecraft and everybody shared it on the table, straightaway.

But also well it changed our thinking, because in retail we have this concept of return on investment per square metre.

And it’s a standard measureable of what I do as a job and that’s basically how much, retail leases are very very expensive and it’s a way of actually us saying well actually, how much money do we get per square metre in this environment? And this business case is built on it as well, and I saying well can we change the concept, can we think about this, could we think about experience per square metre? And how we value that? And the journey mappers are actually helping us understand what the emotional status is of people in each square metre of stores. So we can actually get this basically this positive kind of journey through physical spaces. Is it here it works? And this is the store, this is how it came out. Okay, now look as a store designer it’s a pretty good telco.

And I’m kind of learning my way through up to this as well. Okay, and as a.

Come on, worky.

There we go.

And obviously kids like it as well, this is quite a young kid as well and they actually selected every single app on this and told us basically exactly what they wanted and what they wanted to cast on the large screens. It’s gonna work.

There we go, the top right hand corner is how it came out. The parents actually wanted seating in a store so we started removing huge amounts of product and just putting seating in.

The actual from a designwise is it was kind of okay, but it wasn’t my design, it was the kids’ design. Yeah, I screwed up, I polluted the, I actually polluted the, the research and I did something terrible and the kids told me about this is a post-implementation review, they actually said to me they went Ben you screwed up. It’s actually those three kids, they’d come back in for a review after, I said what’d you mean I screwed up? They said you actually provided all the tablets and stuff all the hardware on tables already.

I said why was that wrong? They went cause kids don’t use that stuff like that. What you should have done was actually put a lower table on and actually inserted all the hardware underneath. Cause then we could just lie on our back and we could just play away.

(laughter) Right, yeah. And we would out of the way of the parents. So the parents can see us, cause kids want to hide. And I was like yeah I screwed up.

Cool I’ll take that.

Now are we doing that in the future? (trills lips) I don’t know yet, I still gotta work that one out myself. But it’s doable and it’s great ideas and I need to keep that information flowing to me so I’m constantly challenged to say what’s next? And yes we’re movin’ from sketch to VR, so we’re movin’ from sketch to render to VR as soon as possible so we can provide people the designs that we’re doing in near kind of as soon as possible what things are gonna look like.

And that’s our next level of research.

Now I’m just gonna finish up, for couple of other slides.

Do you know what I got so excited by the kids’ one I went back into the office and went look if we’re gonna design something for the future of this new brand we need to base it on people that are under 25. I said the same thing, hands up who’s 25? And there was literally like two or three in the area I was in.

Brilliant.

So we went off and did some more research.

No video, well there is a video but I’m not gonna show it. (signs) Right, yeah.

We did more research, and we did it with some of the hatchery guys round here.

Amazing.

Okay and it opened my eyes, to actually how a 25 year old thinks.

And what was really interesting, it’s gonna turn over what was really interested, okay, yeah, and this is probably where I come back to this first slide. Does anybody know these guys by the way? Just gotta check because I didn’t ask their permission to put it in this presentation.

(laughter) Okay, yeah. (laughs) I use these guys, and what was really interesting about the research was there was this interesting, the outcome I’m not going tell you all the details cause that’s boring, but there was this interesting dialogue between the usage of VR and technology as part of their lives and very much part of their lives, and the way that physical spaces were required by these people and what I actually found was and this is just preliminary researches is that what I’m finding is in the research that were doing is that there is an intense desire for humans to be with other humans.

There’s been this intense desire for people to seek out new ways to connect with other humans.

I’m not saying we’re at the point of digital saturation that people are actually seeking out these human contact but there’s definitely evidence of it.

And in fact I joke about this and you know I come back to this first slide about, perhaps Jeffrey Sears was right, perhaps humanity is the new luxury.

And perhaps we need to work together in this new emerging world of how digital and physical spaces, I noticed that Apple just changed the name of their stores from stores to town squares.

And it’s building on the facts that it’s a case of these physical spaces are bringing people together. But let me just final, finish on just a short story from these guys.

On night one this is how research just takes you away in a new direction, these guys just had this blank statement they could design their own store, they could have any thing in it, any technology they wanted. And on the first night someone said put up a post-it sticker and went ‘I don’t care what kind of store it is I want puppies in store.’ (laughter) It’s like oh, puppies, good, go for it.

Night two, click that.

Night two, okay, yeah, was so they come up and somebody else completely different, intelligent kids kids, granddad.

Alright, okay, yeah.

Put up puppies and on the third night, I’m was, I’m still, I went and there was this basic desire for some kind of contact with life, put up puppies.

And I was like this crazy, and I’m a bit freaked out by this now.

And on the fourth night, it was these guys actually they were doing it and all the other nights by the way they didn’t know who we were, they just thought we were an international research agency and on the fourth night somebody came out and they put up a petting zoo.

Now I said to myself look, they knew I was actually from Optus by then this group did. So I actually said to them, I said look I’m just intrigued, I said we’ve had huge amounts of technology, we’ve had huge amounts of indulgences with cronuts and stuff like this, everyone wants a cafe, just addicted to coffee and stuff, and I said but tell me what’s actually, what’s in the petting zoo and she looked at me straight faced, and just said oh, goats.

(laughter) (laughs) Like I should know better.

(laughter) So look right, so the reality is as well, just to put a summary on this presentation is okay, yeah. Is it that I love research I love research on physical spaces, but the reality is that you know for me, my emerging world in retail design is actually knowing more about your world and knowing more about how these worlds collide, emerge in a new beautiful new space for Australia. So thanks for your time guys enjoy your lunch. (audience applause)