Retail Redesign

The Ask

Redesign the small mammal aisle to improve shopper experience and increase sales.

The Situation

The current "small mammals" aisle is uninviting and functionally flawed. 

The Insight

Lack of connection in between pets and customers in the store results in negative pet experiences at home. 

The Strategy

Foster connection between pets and their owners by addressing three design areas: access, aesthetics and education.

The Process

  • Employee interviews

  • Secret shopping

  • In-store shopper observations

  • In-home family interviews

  • Pet owner interviews

gloryah chinchilla.jpg

The Findings

In the aisle itself, we found some major problem areas:

Cage height

Employees can't easily reach into the cages to retrieve animals and children can't see into the cages

Safe interaction

Small mammals like to run around, even in tiny hands, and the possibility of one ending up the floor makes parents (and children) nervous. 

Product organization

Sections are not labeled clearly or organized by animal.


We also spoke to small pet parents

“The process was scary quick. It made me question the fact that you can just go buy a life.”


-Sienna, guinea pig mom

The seriousness of owning and caring for an animal is not communicated during the shopping process.

“We had a discussion about who was supposed to take care of it, but it didn’t turn out that way.”

-Nikki, mother of teenage boy and guinea pig

Parents sometimes regret their purchase when they end up being the primary caretaker. This means they won’t be back to purchase another pet.

The Insight

The lack of connection and education in the store results in poor in-home experiences. 


We were inspired by a store with a purchase process that encourages children to feel responsible for and bonded to their new friend: Build-a-bear. Customers are led through a lengthy process that includes warming up a plush heart before placing it inside their bear.

Why do we go through such an elaborate process for a stuffed animal, but send kids home with a living creature with little to no education or bonding?

bab box.png
bab hug.png

Redesigning the Aisle

The issues fell into three main categories to address in our redesign.

guinea pig.png




Children can't easily view the pets and don't have a safe way to interact with them.


Employees struggled to properly pick up animals from the top cages.

Design Problem

Cluttered signage and poor organization make the aisle confusing to navigate.


Pamphlets are busy and hard to read.

The lack of connection in the store sometimes results in parents shouldering responsibility for care at home and ultimately regretting their purchase. 

Columns instead of typical shelves allow for 360 degree viewing and product placement directly next to the corresponding animals

Lower cages make it easier for kids to see their possible pets at eye level and employees can more easily pick up animals

Design Solution

Brighter colors and clear text are easier to read

Newly designed informational pamphlets are more kid-friendly and fun

Bonding Station provides a safe space to interact with pets

Box redesign looks and feels more like a home and encourages bonding and responsibility 

New Pledge kicks off a conversation about responsibility and care

The New Aisle

To help kids prepare for their new role as pet parents, we wanted to redesign the aisle to foster connection before they even leave the store.

We knew we needed to address these with employees, parents and children in mind.


New Layout


Lower cages allow children and handicapped individuals to view all the animals at once from different angles, and employees to reach into the cages to retrieve animals.

Products are organized by animal to help new and experienced pet parents quickly find what they need. 

guinea pig.png


petsmart new color palette.png

New Color Palette

Bright colors paired with black text on a white background make information more appealing and easier to read. 

Updated Pet Info Pamphlet

old pamphlet.png

The new pamphlets include a clear introduction to each animal, check lists for supplies, care information and any special tips for the animal

(Current pamphlet design)

New Pet Carrier

Inspired by the build-a-bear boxes, the new pet carrier feels more like a temporary home with a drawing of a window on the side and a place to write the name of the new pet.

smart old box.png

(Current box design)

petsmart box window.png

Bonding Station

Much like how you would play and bond with a puppy before taking it home, the bonding helps form connections before leaving the store. 

The bonding station creates a sense of security for customers and their parents, and allows more timid shoppers to interact with the animals without having to hold them. 


This bowl-like stand can be adjusted for height and has locking wheels for easy movement.

bonding station.png


gerbil hands.jpg

The Pledge

In addition to getting comfortable with their pets before taking them home, new pet parents are also asked to sign a care pledge included on the back of their information pamphlet. 


Similar to build-a-bear, this written promise creates a pause during which to have a conversation about responsibility, and can be used as a reminder of that conversation once the pet is at home. 

The Team

Belem Medina, Experience Designer

Gloryah Allen, Experience Designer

Kyle Stolcis, Strategist


Observing how a mother and child interact differently with the family's guinea pig in their home was hugely beneficial to this project.


Collaborating as a team allowed us to design in-store solutions that would have impact beyond the physical aisle.  

My Role

Qualitative research, in-home interviews, experience strategy, aisle design, presentation design