In the last two years I have seen a consistent and ever growing decadence at big box retailers in the US. Recently I found myself choosing NOT to shop at Home Depot, but instead to visit a smaller retailer further from my home cutting out an hour from my day. The reason I switched is clear. I favor a better shopping experience over convenience. So do a lot of people I know. Some are even forgoing lower prices.
Home Depot is not alone; Staples, Wal-Mart and even Target are literally a jungle. Many customers are left to fend for themselves. To get what they need they have to wrestle product information and availability out of ill-informed salespeople (if you can find one) who lack a positive attitude. Low prices have been driving the big retailer’s decisions and choices, but to some extent have sacrificed critical customer needs. And even with store "credos" and "customer service statements" posted on receipts and checkout counters, customers are less inclined to believe the store will deliver.
As a designer, I see the opportunity to bridge the gap between what retailers want and what customers need. Using design as a holistic tool, considering store design; process design; product design and graphic design, all working together to enhance customer service and create value, for the retailers and the customers.