design:retail - May/June 2020 - 22

INNOVATION

DESIGN:RETAIL

MAY/JUNE 2020

PERSPECTIVES

Everything I
Learned from
Being a Designer
at Amazon
TOBI WRAY
OWNER, PRINCIPAL
DESIGN WELL SPENT CO.

for this article, I would never
have thought we would be where we are today-a
global pandemic on our hands. Like many of you,
2020 was going to be my year. I quit my corporate
job at Amazon in December to start a business of
my own. I was full of hope and excitement. It's
not the first time I've started a new chapter with a
bleak economic outlook ahead of me. I graduated
from college in 2009 during that recession, and
guess what? We came out of it stronger than ever,
so I am hopeful for the future and confident retail
and hospitality will come back in a big way. Think
about it-everyone is self-isolating to prevent the
spread of this virus. They are yearning to get out,
to see their friends, to go out to eat, to shop and to
get back to "normal." We can't know what the new
normal will look like, but I am confident it involves
people reconnecting with a greater appreciation
for what they have.
More than ever, I am grateful for the experiences
I had at Amazon. I left feeling like I got my MBA-it
was four years of incredible growth. During my
first week, a negative New York Times article came
out. I did NOT have that negative experience. Did I
work long hours? Yes. Did I work harder than ever?
Yes. Was I pushed every single day to be better than
the day before? Absolutely. It's true-Amazon is
not for the faint of heart. It is, however, an overachiever's dream. A place where you are surrounded
by people who are smarter than you are, who are
collectively pushing to achieve the greater goal-
innovation on behalf of the customer.
For the first time, I was working in an environment where I was one of only a handful of people
who had developed physical retail before. While
I was teaching the business about design process and industry standards, they were pushing
me to think differently about everything I knew.
➞ WHEN I HAD THE IDEA

"We can't know what
the new normal will
look like, but I am
confident it involves
people reconnecting
with a greater
appreciation for
what they have."

These were brilliant people and their blank slate
perspective proved to be invaluable as we developed new concepts. Here are my key takeaways
that could be applied to any business:
* Put the customer first. Get ahead of what they
need, solve problems before they have them
and never settle.
* Data, data and more data. Gather it, analyze it,
write documents about it (a lot of documents)
and look at it objectively. Bring in outside perspectives, get feedback on it and then make a
decision. Quickly.
* Amazon is comfortable with testing in front
of their customers (within reason). Why not
get things in front of your customers quickly?
If it doesn't work, change it. This gives you
speed-to-market and, you guessed it, feedback! Amazon loves feedback and if you work
there, you get really comfortable giving it and
receiving it.
* Set aggressive goals that seem unattainable
(and probably are). If you don't hit them, figure out why you fell short, so you can be more
successful with the next goal.
* Don't make the same mistake twice. Identify
issues quickly and do whatever it takes to avoid
it from happening again.
* Do more with less. What is actually required to
create the experience you want? Good design
doesn't have to mean extravagant details. It just
has to work.
➞ BIO TOBI WRAY is the the owner of Design Well Spent Co., an interior design
firm, and teaches interior architecture at Cornish College of the Arts. She led the
store design team for Amazon Specialty Retail and played a key role in launching
physical retail for Amazon. Prior to Amazon, she led the concept design team at
Starbucks, developing new concepts, such as Tazo Tea, Teavana Tea Bars and
other new Starbucks experiences

22



design:retail - May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of design:retail - May/June 2020

design:retail - May/June 2020
Contents
From the Editor
Happenings
On Trend: Retail in the Pink
Spec Sheet: The Great Outdoors
Interactive Spaces: Razer
Pop-Ups: Backcountry
Plugged In: adidas
Perspectives: Everything I Learned from Being a Designer at Amazon
SPECIAL REPORT: POST-PANDEMIC RETAIL
CANNABIS RETAIL ROUNDUP
40 UNDER 40
Moment
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Intro
design:retail - May/June 2020 - design:retail - May/June 2020
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Cover2
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 1
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Contents
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 3
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 4
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 5
design:retail - May/June 2020 - From the Editor
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 7
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Happenings
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 9
design:retail - May/June 2020 - On Trend: Retail in the Pink
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 11
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Spec Sheet: The Great Outdoors
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 13
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 14
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 15
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Interactive Spaces: Razer
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 17
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Pop-Ups: Backcountry
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 19
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Plugged In: adidas
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 21
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Perspectives: Everything I Learned from Being a Designer at Amazon
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 23
design:retail - May/June 2020 - SPECIAL REPORT: POST-PANDEMIC RETAIL
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 25
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 26
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 27
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 28
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 29
design:retail - May/June 2020 - CANNABIS RETAIL ROUNDUP
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 31
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 32
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Trion1
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Trion2
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Trion3
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Trion4
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Trion5
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Trion6
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Trion7
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Trion8
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 33
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 34
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 35
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 40 UNDER 40
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 37
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 38
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design:retail - May/June 2020 - 45
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 46
design:retail - May/June 2020 - 47
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Moment
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Cover3
design:retail - May/June 2020 - Cover4
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