November 29, 2007
By Troy Schwehr
Getting the most out of your store design
Think back to the last store you visited. Did you notice how the aisles aided in the natural flow of traffic or did you notice that bright, colourful display of hot, new items by the checkouts? Chances are, unless you are a virtuoso of store design, you noticed the display. But did you know that the way the aisles and displays were laid out might just have influenced your purchases?
Store design could be considered an art form, and, much like drawing and painting, it can be difficult to create a masterpiece. As a retail consultant for a custom fixture manufacturer, I have seen many store designs. Some have been quite effective while others needed work. In both cases, I have noticed key factors that, when properly considered, help to achieve store design success.
Your store is an extension of your brand. It can be a powerful tool in creating recognition and response among customers. However, a design can just as easily cause confusion if it doesn’t agree with your image. I recently worked with a client who owned a quick-service Southern barbeque restaurant, but just by looking at the store design, one would have thought he was walking into a doctor’s office. Everything was white and had an almost sterile feel to it. (White and sterile isn’t what comes to mind when I think of barbeque.) By adding some “down home” comfort and character to the fixtures and décor, customers now have a clear idea of what the restaurant is about. It is this creativity that will not only attract a customer’s attention, but also keep him or her coming back.
In addition to being eye-catching, a design must be functional. I had another client who came to me with a store full of clutter. It was hard for customers to move around and find products. In the time-constrained world that we live in, sifting through clutter to find what a person is looking for can be a turn-off. By creating a floor plan that accommodated the natural traffic flow patterns of the store’s customers, we made the purchase process easier.
A functional store design can also aid in your selling process. As I made mention of earlier, carefully placing products in certain areas of your store can invoke a response from your customers. Grocery stores are the best example of this idea. Near every checkout a shopper can find candy, magazines and other inexpensive items that a person standing in line might impulsively buy. What you won’t find near every check out are the necessities like milk and bread. Instead, these are placed strategically around the store to draw customers in and entice them to pick up other products along the way.
Like the human brain, store design has two sides: creativity and functionality. Both are equally important in a successful design. On the one side, you want your store to stand out and further convey your brand. On the other side, you want customers to be able to easily move around and make purchases. But just like the brain, these two sides must be balanced for the design to work, as a highly functional store can be unattractive and a highly creative store can be hard to shop in. Finding that balance is the key to making your store design work for you.
So as you can see, store design is an art form, a delicate balance of creativity and functionality. It can be challenging to create a masterpiece, but it’s not impossible. Just remember to keep in mind your brand and your customers while designing. In doing so, you’re sure to create a store that compliments your image, encourages sales and leads your company to success.
Troy Schwehr is a retail consultant for F.C. Dadson, Inc., a U.S.-based fixture management company. The company offers space/floor planning and conceptual design, graphics, POP displays, trade show exhibits. turn-key fixture design and manufacturing along with nationwide installation. Find out more at: www.fcdadson.com.
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