You are here
Fashionably lost: The importance of good wayfinding in department stores


Fashionably lost: The importance of good wayfinding in department stores

It’s fair to say that the past decade has seen the most seismic shift in the history of modern retail. Information, technology and rapidly changing lifestyles have all played their part in shaping the way we shop and what we expect from a retail experience.

They have been the catalysts for innovative new store formats and visual environments that delight and entertain us, and yet one guiding principle of retail has remained the same – if customers cannot find what they are looking for, they will not come back.

Department stores have perhaps been one of the biggest winners of the retail sector during this period of evolution. Their ability to provide a depth of experience as well as a breadth of options has struck a chord with the digitally savvy consumers who expect everything in one compelling destination.

By understanding and adapting to changing consumer behaviour, department stores have been able to create more than just a destination to shop. They have created an experiential venue where customers can immerse themselves in a brand, a theme, or a promise. It’s a centre that stimulates each of our senses and fulfils all of our pleasures.

But the beautifully designed pop-up shops or the innovative themed rooms and visual displays all fail in their aim if the customer cannot navigate their way around or if they cannot experience the store in the way that they desire.

In retail, wayfinding is the silent salesman, effortlessly and subtly guiding customers to the checkouts, the toilets or the different concessions. Yet it does so in a way that enables the customer to experience the store how they want. It helps to create an environment where the customer is ‘fashionably lost’ in the moment – a state of retail wonderment where they can stumble upon new and exciting things. It’s this sense of discovery and personalisation combined with the functional aspects of retail that truly creates an aspirational-shopping destination.

Visual merchandise, themed environments and point-of-sale displays are but a few elements of the customer journey. They should work alongside and complement a well thought out wayfinding system that considers all the complexities of the customer decision-making process. Only when these elements are fused with an effective wayfinding strategy does a retail environment come to life.

Endpoint has a wealth of experience guiding customers through department stores. We have designed wayfinding systems for some of the world’s most iconic retailers in some of the most unique buildings. Our wayfinding designs help to create the luxury retail experience that customers so desire, in a way that complements the context of the surroundings. They are the glue that quietly holds the store's identity, personality and values together. Good wayfinding should not be underestimated!

Contact Alison Richings, Wayfinding Design Director on or 0207 089 2670 for more information on our approach to wayfinding in department stores and the retail sector.

Enjoyed this? Read our article on 'Retail Wayfinding'

Enjoying the content?

Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest news and thought leadership articles direct to your inbox.

We promise not to share your details with anyone.