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Helping shoppers explore products through digital and in-store recommendations


To innovate around a traditional shopping experience at a department store, such as Nordstrom, by merging digital and physical experiences.

Brick and mortar retailers have been struggling to stay competitive with eCommerce retailers over the years. With more digital technologies available, retailers have been integrating new experiences into their stores to bring in foot traffic. However, one area where brick and mortar retailers have not been as successful incorporating into their stores is customer recommendations. Products are still very much experienced in a traditional way of merchandising. The objective of this project was to bring digital recommendations into the physical space to help consumers make better decisions.


Over the course of this project, I individually developed the concepts and worked on all of the final assets. 

Key Skills

Design Research, Service Design, Process Design, UX Design, Visual Design, Prototyping

Course Advisor

Aynne Valencia-Brooks (Experience Design)

Project Team

Kris Fung (Co-Design Researcher) 

Vanika Nain (Co-Design Researcher)

Project Role

UI/UX Designer

Project Length

8 weeks


Sketch, Keynote, Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and Principle


The brick and mortar stores that are successful combine digital into the in-store experience. 

For 3 weeks, my team and I did a deep dive in retail to find opportunity areas by talking to industry experts and consumers. We conducted 3 onsite company visits at, Sephora Labs, and Madison Reed. By talking to experts, we learned about the most recent technology trends in retail and how companies were implementing them. We visited 5 different retail store concepts (Bonobos Guideshop, Bloomingdale's, H&M, Sephora, and Eatsa) to compare experiences. We created a user survey and asked 16 people about their shopping habits. I also personally conducted 8 user interviews to understand how people make decisions while shopping online and in-store. 

Through synthesis, I discovered that although people love the convenience of shopping online, they still like to go into stores to feel products and try them on. Thus, in order to improve the in-store experience, I have to merge the best of both digital and physical experiences together.

Concept Ideation

People use their phones a lot while shopping in-store, the product concept needed to be mobile.

Through my research, I discovered that people use their mobile phones all the time while shopping to compare prices and look at product reviews. Thus, the concepts must integrate a mobile experience. The other consideration is that to get people more engaged in the store, I have to strategically use existing tools to push out information to the customer instead of having them search for it electronically.

Concepts included integrating a social media wall that displays products customers have bought, displaying merchandise according to best selling or highest rated by customers, iPads that can be used to look up information on products, physical color and fabric samples of items, and a mobile scanning app that pulls up product info.

I ultimately narrowed down the scope to just the mobile app experience, social feed wall, and a merchandising display.


The app experience had to serve multiple purposes such as sell products, provide recommendations, scan products, and locate products in-store and online.

When designing the app, I had to consider that the app could not just be a mobile product scanner. It had to still sell product to customers and be flexible to allow customers to shop while on the go. Additionally, product reviews must be associated with other important product information. Therefore, I had the challenge of still making the app look like a shopping app but had to integrate product scanning, product recommendations, product locations in-store, and product pairings with other items.


Thinking about the technical aspects of a shopping app, I decided to narrow the focus and pick a single department store brand, Nordstrom instead of allowing all types of stores. Massive inventory management, searches, and recommendations would slow down the experience for customers if the app included all types of stores. 

Visual System

The visuals had to align with Nordstrom's existing line of apps.

The name for PAIR was inspired by the fact that the term is used to reference pairs of shoes, but also pair things together to make outfits. PAIR would pair the digital and physical experience together in-store.

The style of the app tried to stay consistent with Nordstrom’s overall brand image, using mostly black and whites with a single color for call to actions. The inspiration for the look and feel of the app was a clean, bold, and simple feel where photos and content should be the center of attention. The only thing drawing attention are a single bright yellow pop.

Final Concept

A mobile app, a social media wall, and review based merchandising will improve the in-store shopping experience at department stores.

The final concept was built using Principle. PAIR is intended to save customers' time in finding product information and locating products, give customers a way to read customer reviews in-store and in app, and create fun ways for customers to think about products in terms of outfits.

The way PAIR works, is that if you opened up your app, you could take a picture of any product (in a store or outside) or scan a barcode to find information. The product would be searched across all of the inventory across Nordstrom and their sub brands and give you products that matched or were very close to it. Then as you look at the product information, you can see the exact location of the store that it is in and you can either purchase it instantly on your phone to be delivered or pick it up in store.

However, the experience would not be complete without the in-store component. PAIR still needed signifiers in-store to help people understand that experience was available. Concerns were consumers not knowing that an app exists, consumers who don’t have smart phones, and consumers who don't want to download another app. 

PAIR Mobile App

Login and Shop

New User and Product Scanning

A walkthrough of a user logging in, exploring products, and making a purchase through their phone.

A walkthrough of an experience for a new user who is using the scan feature to find a product and see its pairings.

Social Media Inspiration Wall

Many department stores already have digital screens that display advertisements to customers. Instead, the screens could display live Instagram feeds from shoppers that have bought products. Customers can see real-time reviews and pairing ideas to inspire their shopping experience.

Review Based Merchandising

Instead of having displays based on what retailers think people want to buy, products will be displayed based on what products are the most popularly bought or highest rated. Additionally, placing tags on products that encourage the usage of the PAIR app will invoke curiosity and awareness.

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