Redesign the small mammal aisle to improve shopper experience and increase sales.
The current "small mammals" aisle is uninviting and functionally flawed.
Lack of connection in between pets and customers in the store results in negative pet experiences at home.
Foster connection between pets and their owners by addressing three design areas: access, aesthetics and education.
In-store shopper observations
In-home family interviews
Pet owner interviews
In the aisle itself, we found some major problem areas:
Employees can't easily reach into the cages to retrieve animals and children can't see into the cages
Small mammals like to run around, even in tiny hands, and the possibility of one ending up the floor makes parents (and children) nervous.
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 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?
Redesigning the Aisle
The issues fell into three main categories to address in our redesign.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
(Current box design)
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.
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.
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.
Qualitative research, in-home interviews, experience strategy, aisle design, presentation design