May 12, 2021

XD + CX Design in Automotive Retail Facility Design


Shawn Houghtling

Experience Design (XD) “is the practice of designing products, processes, services, events, omnichannel journeys, and environments with a focus placed on the quality of the user experience and culturally relevant solutions.” (Wikipedia)

XD includes the design of the Customer Experience (CX). Within the retail environment, CX involves creating a narrative within a setting that offers ways for customers to come together around a brand experience, encouraging a deeper connection with the brand. Within automotive retail specifically, we use touchpoints such as the arrival/parking area, entrance elements, reception desk and/or service reception to create nodes of brand communication/interaction. How these are arranged and oriented begins to inform the path of the customer and how they interact with product or service.  

The example of how an entry element or “front door” can serve as a touchpoint within a retail environment emphasizes the idea that CX is more than just an aesthetic exercise — it is about creating moments. Of course, the entrance to a store is to be immediately recognizable upon entering the site and should be easily accessible by all. However, where and how it’s placed on the building can be an opportunity to construct an exceptional experience and can convey a brand message.  

Is the entryway centrally located or positioned off to the side? Is it a grand entrance constructed of polished stone or a much smaller human-scaled entry clad in rough-hewn wood? Does the customer walk through the door into a large beautifully well-lit double-height showroom, or is the entrance through an intimate low ceiling vestibule that funnels you in front of a reception desk? Each decision can inform the customer as to the intended brand message and begin to tell a unique story.

As we begin to create special moments within a retail space (i.e. touchpoints), we are better able to make emotional connections between the customers and the brand that will increase loyalty, dwell time and an overall positive feeling. The idea is to move from the typical product-driven model to a customer-centric experience.