Design Thinking is a technique that focuses on understanding the end-user through methods of thinking ‘outside of the box’. This consists of five phases that can be performed in a non-linear fashion – Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test.


  1. Empathize – get to know your user(s), and step beyond your assumptions about their needs.
  2. Define – analyze the information gathered and define the main issues in a human-centered fashion.
  3. Ideate – thinking outside of the box, viewing the problem previously defined with different perspectives, and create innovative solutions to the problem.
  4. Prototype – build out the solutions to the problem, in small-scale and inexpensive ways.
  5. Test – use your prototypes to redefine the problem.

Design thinking figures out unknown problems and creates human-centric solutions. This method can be easily applied to the retail environment. When customers’ wants and feelings are understood, retailers can make improvements to experiences and services, which, in turn, increases customer loyalty and trust.


For example, the LPRC believes shoppers expect:

  • Exactly what they came to buy is on the shelf when they want it
  • A very low hassle checkout experience
  • To feel safe and secure during any store visit – even at night


How do we ensure shoppers get what they expect?

  • Empathize – The LPRC generates insights about the shopper by
    1. Asking questions – what prompts a behavior? What do people seem to care about? What is their body language saying?
    2. Stepping beyond assumptions – we gather information from people outside of the average or immerse ourselves directly into an experience.
  • Define – We analyze the insights and define the problems to be solved.
  • Ideate – The LPRC’s NextRetail Research Center, made possible by Nedap and Sensormatic, is a setting created for brainstorming innovative solutions for the problems defined. The space is designed to be fluid and can adapt to fit any need.
  • Prototype – Our Simulation Lab is one way we can create prototypes of solutions. Using virtual/augmented reality, we can quickly and cost-efficiently create and tweak a number of solutions and techniques.
  • Test – We can test the solutions in the Simulation Lab, as well as work with StoreLabs to test solutions in the field. We can also bring people into the Research Lab to test out solutions from our partners.

By applying design thinking, retailers can create more human-centric environments that allow for happy and repeat consumers, while fostering a setting that is conducive to innovative LP techniques and solutions that don’t disconcert the average shopper.