Big QuestionsOur work related to complex challenges.

The Challenge

Create a specialty store experience that inspires women to lead an even more “interesting life.”


A reimagined brand experience for guests and service model for employees in kate spade new york stores around the world.

kate spade new york has been an iconic fashion brand since the early 90s, when its handbags first stormed the Manhattan fashion scene. Since then, the company has expanded and evolved into a global lifestyle brand.

With e-commerce reshaping the retail landscape and redefining the role of brick and mortar stores in recent years, kate spade new york leadership asked: How can we make the kate spade new york specialty store experience, well, more special?

kate spade new york already held the key to a new way of thinking about a multichannel customer experience: a brand promise “to inspire her to lead an interesting life.” Hoping to bring that promise to life in store, they engaged IDEO to help make it happen. The solution was for kate spade new york to take the brand message from words to action in the form of a customized guest journey. The team created more than 100 design concepts and strategies for building a retail experience that rewards curiosity and sparks artistic and literary exploration.

“In partnership with IDEO, we spoke extensively with our customers and associates to better understand how we can provide the most engaging and fulfilling in-store experience,” said Mary Beech, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Kate Spade & Company. “The new store elements that we introduced speak to our customer’s personality and appetite for adventure while aiming to enhance engagement with new and existing customers.”

The team knew that striking the right balance of digital tools in in-store interactions was pivotal in allowing two people to have a more rich and collaborative face-to-face connection. The concepts include things like “pack a purse” to test drive how many everyday items can fit in different style handbags, cheeky “dare cards” that challenge customers to go on an exciting adventure with their new purchase, and digital moments like the “shoe selfie” platform that would allow a guest to share “I’m thinking about them” heels or just-purchased flats with her social network. IDEO live-prototyped a selection of concepts in stores around the country and saw a high correlation between customers’ positive reactions and their subsequent purchasing decisions.

“At kate spade new york, our brand promise is to inspire women to live a more interesting life,” said Jenica Myszkowski, Vice President of Stores at Kate Spade & Company. “Our new and improved guest journey experience puts our customers at the center, allowing us to more fully deliver on our brand promise in our retail stores with a stronger vision and purpose for our stores and our store teams.”

To deliver the newly envisioned guest service experience, the role of the sales associates needed to be redesigned, as well. The kate spade new york and IDEO team created a new role: the Muse, whose job is to live the brand promise of an interesting life and to inspire customers to do the same. The reimagined role ultimately shifted the focus in specialty stores from selling to inspiring and building long-lasting relationships with guests.

Retail and Hospitality
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