Increased competition requires retail stores to increasingly focus on improving their customers' experiences (Caru & Cova, 2007; Chakravorti, 2011). As a basis, the store atmosphere and the signals the interior send are decisive for producing the right customer experience (Van Rompay, Tanja-Dijkstra, Verhoeven, & Van Es, 2012). Society, however, is always changing, so stores must constantly evolve and follow trends to attract new customers while retaining the old ones (Babin & Attaway, 2000). This also implies that retail stores need to explore more untraditional means to achieve the desired effects. In fact, there is an increasing tendency to perceive retail stores as more than a place for purchasing goods, but also a place for socializing and leisure (Hu & Jasper, 2006; Simonsen, 2014).
As customer involvement increases, there is a need for new approaches to enhance interactions with customers, as "a good understanding of the consumer and his or her requirements helps a retailer to create the right products and services and the right environment in which to sell them" (Pradhan, 2012, p. 50). Furthermore, a need exists for an approach that can combine different perspectives in order to understand both a service's demand side, that is, users' and customers' needs, and its supply side, that is, technologies and processes, so that successful retail services can be created (Steen, Manschot, & De Koning, 2011). Along this line, this article explores how the concept of co-design can be used to develop "consumer communities" as a part of a retail store concept.