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Optimizing interior design

November 11, 2008 Written by Diane Chiasson
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Many people might think customers will visit a bakery simply because of the quality of its goods, but the interior design and space of a bakery are equally important in attracting new and old customers and adding to the overall shopping experience.

Making a first impression is crucial in business, and the only way to make a good first impression with your store is not through your food, but what your customers see as soon as they walk through the door.

Interior design is an integral part of the overall success of a bakery and must not be overlooked. What kind of shopping experience do you want your customers to have when they walk into your bakery? Does your interior design and layout convey that experience?

Does your bakery provide an easy flow for customer traffic and service? Are your kitchen and workstations ergonomically designed to bring out the best in your staff?

There are so many things to consider when embarking on a change in interior design that I could write 25 books on the subject. But here are a few pointers to keep in mind whether you are getting ready to build a new bakery from the ground up or just thinking about making some changes to your existing space.

Develop a vision
First and foremost, before you begin anything, you must have a goal and a plan. Factor short- and long-term goals into your decision. Your final vision must strongly convey your brand, yet must also address the needs and tastes of your customers. Don’t be afraid to appeal to your clearly identified target market. The elements of a successful bakery design that need to complement each other include the space layout and flow, theme, materials, colours, lighting, graphic design, signage and artwork, along with product menus, uniforms and serving dishes.

Tip: Always remember that electricity and plumbing should be done first!

Avoid having too many people in the decision-making process
Once you have decided to take on a renovation, you will get valuable design input from your staff, your family members and your friends. While you might get a lot of useful advice from them, it is essential that one person take the lead to create a single vision. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a mishmash of ideas, which will ultimately increase your design costs and create a space that could have been better.

Don’t fall for design fads
Fads are called fads because they come and go. Your customers may tire of them quickly. Always keep in mind that customers want to go to a bakery that is welcoming, inviting and friendly – and they want to be comfortable! This rule applies to everything, including your colour selection and furniture as well as smaller items such as cutlery and crockery. Many items may look cool, but are they practical?

Build your brand into your design
Establishing a brand is marketing’s golden rule. How does your bakery’s identity differentiate itself from your competitor’s? What do you want your customers to think of when they hear your name?
Once you have a brand, you need to incorporate your brand image into all aspects of your bakery. Keep in mind that the colours you choose for your brand must also be integrated into the interior design of your bakery. For the outside of your store, get an awning with your name and brand on it to draw your customers in.

Create a colour board
In order to bring your vision together, it’s essential to see how all the colours and textures you have chosen work with each other. Use a story/colour board to attach your tear sheets, finishes, fabric swatches, photos, design sketches, clippings, paint chips and photos. This will be your roadmap to making decisions about what to buy and use. Paint three-inch by three-inch wood panels with your colours and work around your space from dark spots to nearby windows to see how your colours work in different situations.

Pick your best colours
Colours stir our emotions, change our moods and touch our hearts. People look and feel their best when warm colours surround them. Studies have shown that warm colours such as orange, yellow and red have been known to attract attention and stimulate appetites.

Casual shops tend to use more colours and brighter hues, while upscale bakeries use fewer colours, but opt for different textures and patterns to create richness.

Pick colours that you like, but don’t work with the latest fashionable colours just because they are currently in style.

Paint your outside façade in colourful and vibrant colours; this will be an excellent way to get noticed from the street. You could hire a local artist to paint a beautiful mural.

Don’t forget about the music
Music is a subtle stimulator that adds to your customers’ shopping experience. Choose your music very carefully to add to the in-store experience. By using music creatively, you can transport your customers to the place you want to take them. Make sure that your music matches the image of your operation and your customers’ demographic profile. Proper use of volume settings is very important to allow customers to have conversations without yelling over the music.

Lighting is key
The interior and exterior lighting is the most important design feature for any interior design project. Your lighting system should be an integral part of the whole design, showcasing the best features of your bakery. Pay attention to where there is natural light at different times of the day before selecting and installing light fixtures.

Include different creative light fixtures to enhance diverse focal areas even if you have a small budget. Remember: the best lighting doesn’t call attention to itself. Your eye is drawn to the area being lit, rather than the light source.

Keep your customer service area spacious and inviting
Customers want to feel relaxed about the place in which they have chosen to spend their money. This should happen for them as soon as they walk through the doors. This means keeping the entrance roomy and free of clutter.
If you have the room, offer a space where customers can put down their other bags of heavy groceries that they may have just purchased; this will make their browsing and buying time more enjoyable and comfortable.

If your bakery is inside a building, keep your main doors open wide to offer as much of a view of the interior as possible – and also to let the aroma of freshly baked goods flow out of your store and attract attention.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for more than 25 years. She provides innovative food and retail merchandising programs, interior design, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Her website is www.chiassonconsultants.com.

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