A good store design does it all!

Can the design of a retail store affect sales? It is a question worth asking and the answer to which is affirmative. This is how a store owner can employ a good retail design to improve sales.

There are many factors that add up to the success of a retail store. Location, the management, merchandise, store ambience, sales staff and the store layout or the design of the retail store tally up to write the triumph of a store. Organised retailers have come to realise the value of a good store lay-out with merchandise easily accessible and a friendly and modern atmosphere as the key elements to a good design store.  

Its not only about popularity
Agreed, that most retailers look to designers to design their store in order to attract more footfall. But to assume that popularity is the only intention at the base of a store design is incorrect. Attraction maybe the first step, but a truly successful retail store design is one that profits the sales of the store. Yuri Bolotin MD, Design Portfolio, Australia says, “A successful retail design is that which increases the client’s sales and profits.” Design firms always insist on creating an ‘atmosphere’ in the store which contributes to the sales along with the over all popularity of the store.  

Its about the ‘experience’
That retail design helps sales, is an implicit fact now. But, it is not the store lay-out alone that does it. The entire ‘shopping experience’ afforded by the retail deign is what makes the difference. The USP of a store should be the experience felt by the shopper when (s) he comes shopping. From the moment the customer walks in, how (s) he is greeted, what the store looks like, how accessible is the merchandise, is the lighting good, what kind of music is playing and so on are all the ingredients of the customers’ shopping experience. Enhancing this experience is the job of retail design.  

There are a few design techniques that a design firm keeps in mind when planning the design of a retail store. It is crucial to consider these because if reports are to be believed then, 70 per cent of purchase decisions are made in-store and are largely pivoted on what the consumer sees, how (s) he feels about the store and its merchandise and how well the store design conveys all this to the consumer. Manu Neelakandhan, Design Director, Idiom says, “A retail store is the last point of contact between a customer and a product, where the final purchase decision is taken. The job of retail design is to aid this decision making. This is why retail design involves as much science of design as art.” Design techniques considered for a store design are: 

Product presentation
An important task at the hand of the visual merchandiser and the store designer is how the merchandise is placed. Is it easily accessible to the shopper, are the products placed keeping colour codes in mind, is there a barrier between the shopper and the products etc are some of the aspects that the designers need to be keyed in to. 

Space optimisation
Making the store look well-stocked yet clutter-free can take a good effort. But it is imperative because apart from how the merchandise is placed, space is an important consideration for a retail designer. Not all stores have sprawling sq. mts to their disposal and therefore keeping in mind the available store space, the retailer should ensure maximum space optimisation so that most of her/his sq. mts are commercially productive (even if (s) he does not have a large retail space) 

Unique concept/branding
The concept of a brand is its backbone, the base on which the entire brand philosophy is built, the essence of the business. A retailer, through her/his store tells the consumer this concept, and the store design is the medium (s) he uses. “Retail design is about story telling and creating a brand experience, which is definitely not just about brand colours and logos. It is as much about the shopping experience – the culture, the mood, the activities, the materials, the small rituals and the service – as it is about the logo and colour.” adds Neelakandhan.  

One never gets a second chance to make a first impression. And making sure that the ambience of the store with respect to its retail design is consumer-friendly is a sure-short step to leave permanently a good impression. An obvious outcome, of course will be profit and a good turn over. 


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