Retail as media: designing the internet of things for retail

Retail as media

Designing the internet of things for retail

Graduation thesis by Jules Holleboom at labs

Traditionally, retail has focused on the physical distribution of products. However, the rise of the internet and e-commerce forced retailers to focus on the exchange of information.
As a consequence, retail should become media.


Given the pace of developments in the field of information technologies, it is important to research these technologies and their impact on both retail and (consumer) society.

In this thesis, the impact of the internet of things on retail as media was researched. Based on literature research, observation, two focus groups and the attendance of several conferences, answer was given to the primary research question: ‘ How to design the internet of things for retail?

During this research, the Vision in Product Design method was applied to get a better understanding of the raison d’être, the reason for existence, of the current retail landscape both online and offline.


The transparency, overload and democratization of information on the internet created a need for personal, authentic and hedonic experiences.

To an increasing extent, these experiences can be found in physical experience stores offering one-of-a-kind artisan products.

People become self-organizing

The changing aspects of information led to the groundswell, a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need (information and products) from each other. Consumers become prosumers; everyone becomes a store. Slowly, the capitalist economy is transforming into a collaborative economy in which individuals rule instead of traditional institutes (like corporate chain stores). The economic value created in this economy therefore increasingly represents a social value.

Collaborative Services around products emerge

The internet of things is an important catalyst of the transformation into the collaborative economy. Connecting products to the internet offers new possibilities for both consumers and retailers. The role of the retailer changes, as physical products become ubiquitous touchpoints through which consumers and retailers (should) connect. This ultimately causes the store to appear everywhere.

Concept: the future interior store is everywhere
Retail as media

Retail as media is about communities and platforms that enable consumers to connect and collaborate with each other through products. These platforms should facilitate communication and thus form a connecting point of reference in a complex environment where economic value is increasingly created socially.

© 2014 Jules Holleboom for