design:retail’s list of “The Hottest Stores to See in New York” highlights some of the most unique and interactive retail experiences, and Shawmut was the builder behind four of them—Forty Five Ten, Watches of Switzerland, PUMA, and Starbucks Reserve Roastery. What separates these stores from the rest is the translation of customer service into experiences. Innovative brands focus on creating environments that supply shoppers with content and moments of interaction, understanding that brick-and-mortar locations provide so much more than a place to purchase products.

World-class client service—at all stages—is intentional by design. When preparing for store construction, working together upfront as a team provides the luxury of time, which is appreciated by all. It allows the build team to vet a network of quality artisans and subcontractors, the design teams to develop and engineer the most interactive spaces, and the client to realize their vision in line with the expected aesthetic, cost, and schedule. Once the store opens, client service should be the top priority, implemented through the combination of passionate sales people and use of technology to create effortless shopping alongside “Instagrammable” moments.

Technology is only a benefit when used effectively, so retailers need to have a strategy in place to ensure content is consistently fresh and providing value. This same strategic approach should be applied in the design and construction of the store; the technology is only as effective as the store’s system allows it to be, so proper planning and installation are key.

Bringing to life an experience that provides the highest value to both the customer and the brand starts before construction even begins; it’s a mindset that needs to be brought to the table by all key project teams.