Stationery and Record Store in a Bookstore

Hottracks is a store selling CDs and DVDs, stationery, and digital devices. It is now an independent brand, but it started as special sections in Kyobo Book Centre – “Work & Life” for stationery and “Hottracks” for music records – and many people still think that Hottracks is a part of Kyobo Book Centre. The memberships of Kyobo Book Centre and Hottracks are managed together in an integrated system, allowing customers to pay and save membership points anywhere in the bookstore.

Special Significance of a Bookstore

In Korea, there is an old saying that “a book thief is not a thief.” It means Korean people had a tradition of treasuring books and recommended reading habit. Of course, theft should be accused, however, this saying indicates that stealing books was somewhat acceptable especially back in old days, when books were not very affordable and people had difficulties in getting books they wanted to study. A book has a significant value, different from any other consumer products, and people would have a special feeling at a bookstore, unlike in any other places such as a supermarket and a department store. Shin Yong-ho, the founder of Kyobo Group, also regarded books in a similar way. He believed that men of talent were the only resources Korea had, and those great men can be produced by reading books. He established Kyobo Book Centre in 1980, saying that “people make books, but books also make people.” Kyobo Books Centre held the largest number of books in Korea, even providing many foreign publications as well, and soon became the center of public knowledge in Seoul.


Customers of Hottracks

A store packed with numerous book-filled shelves is a place of knowledge and inspiration. Then, what is the best appearance for a store selling stationery, CDs, and digital devices in this meaningful place? It was the first question we, sampartners, had when we started to develop new brand experience elements for Kyobo Book Centre and Hottracks in D-Cube City. What kind of expectations do customers have for Kyobo Book Centre and Hottracks? What do they buy here? How do they think about these places? In order to find answers to the questions, we went out to the field. We shadowed our customers, held interviews with them, and conducted a service safari experiment to find out things to improve.


From a Mere Product Supplier to a Great Experience Provider

Based on several surveys and data analysis, we found a fundamental problem of Hottracks – the Hottracks store was designed only for the seller’s convenience and interests. As too many products were heavily displayed to promote sales, customers had to move between the narrow passages between the stands and easily felt fatigue while searching for what they wanted.

Discovering Service Opportunities Based on Customers’ Shopping Tendency

After observing customers at Hottracks and conducting interviews with them, we categorized the customers’ behavior patterns into four types according to their engagement and range for shopping. The first type is “Self Analysts,” who carefully examine products they need, the second is “Heavy Hikers,” who carefully examine various products, the third is “Short Trackers,” who promptly purchased products they have in mind, and the last is “Small Hands Explorers,” who browse through a wide range of products in the store.
The customer categorization enabled us to establish a target strategy, which attracts possible defected customers and potential customers and improves shopping experience for regular customers and potential loyal customers, in order to strengthen the customer loyalty to the brand.


We set up a customer persona for each type, and figured out what they would expect while shopping in Hottracks. For example, “Self Analysts” want to get clear, specific information on the products they buy, and “Heavy Hikers” need both psychological and spatial comfort to minimize tiredness during their deliberate shopping process. “Short trackers” prefer fast and convenient shopping, while “Small Hands Explorers” enjoy shopping as a play and look for funny, exciting experiences to satisfy their interests. To meet these diverse needs, we set up a higher level concept of “affinity” and described service opportunity elements to satisfy customers with four aspects of clarity, consideration, convenience, and interest.


Experiencing the Brand Value in the Store

Spatial design was an important point in the Hottracks project, and it was critical to effectively show the development concepts in the store. Based on the practical purpose of each space in the store, service opportunity elements were arranged to express clarity, consideration, convenience, and interest. Also, we had close consultations with interior designers and Hottracks staff to fully realize our service goals.


Previous analysis on the customers of Kyobo Book Centre


Moving tray and promotion zone showing the value of interest and clarity


Color system and interior materials


Information system and signage showing the value of convenience and clarity


BIBLIOTHÈQUE library delivers consideration for customers

A New Brand Experience Created by Improving Customer Touchpoints

We closely examined customers’ behaviors from beginning to the end – how they find the Hottracks store after coming into a huge shopping mall of D-Cube City, how they search for products in the store, how they decide on purchase, and what kind of inconvenience they have in the process. For a better shopping experience, we believed that a new brand experience should be provided to customers so that they can feel affinity to the brands, Kyobo Book Centre and Hottracks. We created new signboards showing the way to Hottracks in D-Cube City and information system, as well as various services including “kind shopping bag” and Café Zal.



Hottracks’ Kind shopping bag. Jute is the world’s second most-widely used fabric after cotton. It is made from fibers in the stems of the jute plant grown in the tropical regions like India. A jute shopping bag can be used for 3-4 years, and is an environmentally-friendly product that saves 600 plastic bags.




Café Zal is a coffee place in Hottracks, and it serves fair trade coffee at a reasonable price. The café was created as part of the efforts to change Hottracks from a place where customers pass by to a place where they can stay.



    Kyobo Hottracks


    BX Strategy - sampartners
    BX Design - sampartners
    Space Programming - sampartners & Lee Woo Jin Associates






    Concept & Design Development - Lee Woo Jin Associates
    Photograph - Lee Woo Jin Associates





  • TEAM of ©sampartners

    Executive Director - Chang Lee
    Creative Director - Van B Chung
    Designer - Jina Kim, Jeehoon Bae, Soojung Lee, Gibaek Ryi, Seunghee Hyun
    Project management - Sanghyun Hong


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