Today retail stores selling apparels, CDIT products or any kind of merchandise are not just selling products but at the same time are also a ground for promoting them. The marketing strategists have identified the stores to have the largest impact on the customer’s buying sentiments. As the retailers were evolving to give their customers an experiential shopping space, their basic purpose was to create an atmosphere which facilitates the customer in choosing the products with ease.
Designing, though started for the convenience, today, has become a way to create an identity of a brand.
Identifying the Identity
The intention behind the designing of The Body Shop stores is to achieve three key objectives. These objectives were to accelerate the revitalisation of the brand for the target audiences, encourage audiences to reconnect by providing multiple opportunities for engagement, and provide a ‘Wow’ that has given reasons to rediscover. Brands identity which revolves around nature, beauty and ethics is what the shops were proposed to portray.
Similarly, for the owners of Aston Martin, their car is not just a car, but a work of art. For this they required their retail architecture to reflect Aston Martin’s tradition.
It’s not just about Aston Martin or The Body Shop but any branded retail space which you enter speaks about its brand philosophy. As you enter the Hard Rock Cafe, you would find the old guitars from 60’s and leather jackets which transport you to that time. Even the bar counters and seating arrangements match with the most modern interiors. Music always goes well with the ambience.
Vishal Kapoor, Strategic Design Head, Future Group explained the need as, “The brands need to speak to the customers, and the store design is what speaks to them. For any customer to enjoy and return back to the shop, it is necessary for him to relate to the brand.” Steelbird store designer, Subhash Kapoor said, “When our customer enters our store, we want to make him feel like a rider who is all set to hop on his bike, the placement of bike accessories like gloves, jackets and helmets are all in order to give him a full biking experience. He comes as a customer, leaves being a rider”.
As majority of the brands have associated their customers with an identity, the need for designers and agencies was equally flourishing.
The solution providers
When the design for a retail space is being created, the designer should make it according to the particular use of that retail space. For example, the design requirements for a supermarket would differ radically from those for an art gallery. Designing requires giving attention to a number of aspects, for instance, the number and type of goods which will be on display, the level of participation by the shop staff in selling process and several other such factors. Some retail spaces only have to display some samples of goods, while, others allow trial of the items by the buyers before sale. The retail design chosen would thus differ accordingly.
Body Shop’s store design was in hands of a team from Imagination which is a global creative agency. Based on the new brand positioning statement, ‘Beauty with Heart’, Imagination created a store concept called ‘Open Kitchen.' The kitchen often regarded as the heart of the home and provides a familiar, social, versatile and vibrant space where people gather, create and share; and where effort is made to enhance our well-being. Imagination’s designs reflected the look and feel of a kitchen space, while still incorporating the qualities of the brand. Natural material with contemporary interpretations was used as the focal point of the space, providing a warm and welcoming environment yet very modern and sleek.
By creating a sense of interior and exterior space for cars and customers, Aston Martin’s designers place the car like a work of art as the distinctive centre piece of the showroom. In some instances, cars were actually “framed” by a window design. Integrating marble, glass and aluminum with classic, yet still contemporary, furniture, thus justify Aston Martin’s brand identity.
Use of software is another way how the designers try to woo the customers. Artitalia Group is a leading designer and manufacturer of custom-built display fixtures for top retailers. They recently decided to choose a 3D CAD system named Solidworks. According to Max Ferrara, engineering development manager, Artilia Group, “one important reason why Artitalia has improved its communications with customers since moving to SolidWorks is the integrated eDrawings design communications application. The software makes us finish the design process as per customer’s requirement in quick time”.
To develop a good retail design, it is essential to have a fair understanding of promotion basics, space planning and knowledge of buyers’ psychology, among other things. These aspects need to be understood both by the owner of the retail space, so that the exact requirements can be communicated properly, and by the retail designers, so that the design effectively fulfils those requirements.
Eventually store design has emerged as a field on which each and every retail space depends for bringing out its identity. The store designers have proved to have an invisible hand connecting the customers and the retailers.