Four key principles for successful retail planning and design

store window design

Posted on 13 January 2018 in

The one thing we know is that there are many different approaches when it comes to retail design and setting up your store layout. However, there are also some common design principles that all retailers can employ to increase sales.
There is more demand now than ever before for the virtual world of convenience to be complemented in store by an interactive and engaging experience to build brand engagement, boost customer loyalty and of course maximise sales and profitability.
Shopworks provides the answer to this challenge by utilising the functional retail principles completed to perfection by the emotional customer journey. Both elements are underpinned by detailed analysis and research – understanding your customer to create an environment that answers their needs and encourages multiple transactions.
We start with the space – regardless of whether you’re dealing with a stand alone architecturally designed building or a small unit in an out of town retail centre – we start with the space. And to optimise the value of that space; to create a positive shopping experience for the customer and maximise your return; there are four key principles of design that must be right.

1. Equalise retail space

This is the overarching principle. Every square metre of the store needs to work as hard for you as the next. If you visualise your space as equal zones – every one has to have an equally valuable selling potential, each exposing goods to the danger of being sold. Dead areas are a waste of space and potential profits. However, don’t make the mistake of believing that optimising space is about cramming in as much as possible – it is essential to take into account the customer’s need for a sense of openness.

The next three steps of our design principles ensure your space gives you that balance between profit and a happy customer.

2. Direct through store space

This is about creating a deliberate pathway through the store so that shoppers have an easy journey from the threshold to their chosen category, and in the process can view as much of your other merchandise as possible.  Clever use of flooring, the position and orientation of gondolas and even lighting are all effective ways of creating a flow and directing people through the space. The design and layout needs to result in your products being 1.2m away from your customers throughout their journey and within a 45-degree turn to maximise the purchasing potential.

3. Retail sightlines and access

Customers need to have good sightlines and easy access to every area of the store.  They need to be able to identify where to browse, where to interact and where to transact whilst still standing on the threshold.  They need to remain in control of their journey and using lower units towards the front of the store ensures that areas and products towards the back remain visible and gives them an informed choice.

Sightlines were paramount in the design of Global paint manufacturer, AkzoNobel’s Pan European retail proposition for their Sikkens paint brand. If you stand at the door of these business-to-business retail environments the striking element is the painter’s colour table. The innovative design provides an eye-catching focal point within store. The re-design of this brand resulted in double-digit sales growth in relation to its paints.

4. Categories and adjacencies

This is all about the right product in the right place at the right time with the right quality at the right price. It’s that simple. Good category management and use of adjacencies helps a customer understand where to locate merchandise; appeals to the time-limited and again perpetuates the impression of taking control.  So, place related categories together, such as belts next to jeans, and display your best seller in a prime location.

A good example of successful adjacencies is in petrol station outlets. How often have you picked up a bar of chocolate placed conveniently in the section at the till – alongside you as you wait to pay? Optimising category space allocation and adjacencies promotes cross-selling and up-selling and better sales.

When applying the four principles, it’s also worth bearing in mind that classic Paco Underhill phrase; “the “butt-brush factor” – if a person in an aisle is squeezed past a few times they will leave immediately without purchase. (Why we buy: the science of shopping) So, think beyond the floors area and make creative use of wall space.

Power walls, for example, can be used to great effect for displaying accessories, leaving the rest of the store for central products and making the segmentation of the store easy for the customer to understand. When using gondolas, keep as much space as possible between each one and consider using the top of the gondola for the display of key accessories, which work with the products beneath.  It’s an excellent opportunity for cross selling, which works for both the customer and you.

The customer journey

The concept behind the store has to match the customer’s expectation of the brand – it’s the ‘ownership experience’ that differentiates your product from the next. This starts some distance from your selling space. Bold branding and architecture will draw the customer to the threshold – Swarovski in Ginza Japan is the ideal example of this. Their shop’s frontage uses layered metal to recreate the feel and look of a crystal. It’s a breath taking visual statement attracting shoppers closer to the space.

Once there, the job of the shop window is to intrigue, arouse the curiosity and encourage interaction with potential customers.

Which brings you to the threshold. This is the opportunity to make impact with visual displays showing the breadth of product range and possibilities for the shopper within. Again, physical interaction – whether it’s a multi-functioning technical display or a simple gondola with products to hand will draw customers over the threshold. Once here, guidance is essential; the layout, the signage and category placement creates an immediately positive experience.

From the moment someone steps into your store to the time they decide to check out, smart design decisions make a significant difference as to whether you make a sale or not.

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