Back to Top

THE NEW RULES OF RETAIL DESIGN - PART 1
14 October 2015

Scotch and Soda StorefrontYellow Earth Store Front - Rope SculptureApple Tables - Simple and AdaptableGreat Dane In Store Lighting

THE NEW RULES OF RETAIL DESIGN - PART 1

The days of retailers being in control are over. Thanks to innovations in technology- in particular social media- it’s now the customers who have taken control. They are rewriting the conventional rules of retail design. Customers are better informed than they used to be- they expect service, competitive pricing and above all an experience. We need to change our conventional rules to accommodate theirs. In addition to this, the way we do business and transact with our customers has evolved, and technology is allowing us to do things that were previously too hard, too expensive or just impossible. Here are five ways- the first of ten- in which we can challenge the norms.

1 - WHO SAYS YOU NEED A STOREFRONT?

OK there is an argument for storefronts on high streets. In a shopping mall, you really don’t need one, not in the conventional sense of having glass shop windows with displays in them. It’s not like you need to keep the weather out. Storefronts in malls have no other purpose but to attract and engage customers. Hype DC’s storefront at Miranda is a row of giant vertical timber louvres. From certain angles you can’t even see in. And there’s no display. What an engaging storefront though. Scotch and Soda has thrown away the entire notion of a storefront and literally built a tent, which opens out into the mall. Yellow Earth has created a rope sculpture, which creates a spectacular call to attention an intriguing view of the store interior.

2 - DITCH THE COUNTERS

We don’t need counters any more, that’s not the way stores should work. All counters do is to take up space and give staff something to hide behind. Technology now permits us to make transactions on a hand held device. Forget Apple, the car rental companies have been doing it for years. Even a small specialty store wastes upwards of five square metres of space housing CPU’s, printers, cash drawers, sound systems and anything else the IT guys care to cram in. Not to mention the disruption to customer flow. We have the technology, let’s make it work for us. From a customer point of view, a transaction conducted face to face or side by side without a counter or screen in the way is a more pleasant and intimate experience. Or even if there is no physical transaction- think Uber!

3 - ADAPTABILITY IS THE NEW FLEXIBILITY

Flexibility is expensive and not always desirable. Putting all your fixtures on castors, for example, adds cost but you have to think about whether or not they will actually be moved, or if they might “drift off” over time into undesirable positions. Flexible shopfitting systems add a lot of choice for the store staff, and there are infinite ways to configure them- but do you really want to put that kind of pressure on staff when they should be spending their time selling to customers?

Adaptability is the key- creating simple but well thought out systems that are adaptable to future situations. That way the system disappears and the product is king. Think Apple tables.

4 - YOU DON'T NEED ALL THAT LIGHT

Most retail stores in Australia are over-lit. We may be increasingly using energy efficient LED light fixtures to save long term running costs but we could be making even bigger savings- and benefitting the environment- by simply using less light. It may sound counter intuitive but using less light generally creates a better-lit environment. Light is one of those things we only see by comparison. We can only perceive brightness in relation to darkness. So lighting is at its most effective when used with shadows. Once we have determined the right amount of light to shed on the merchandise (that’s the important thing, remember?) the rest of the store can light itself on the overspill. We don’t need to light circulation spaces or the floors between the aisles. The result is a store that looks dramatic and atmospheric, as opposed to blinding. One that attracts and entices customers and that they feel (and look) good in.

5 - TECHNOLOGY IS BYO

The most sophisticated piece of technology in any store is most likely in your customer’s pocket. They use it to take selfies in dressing rooms, send pictures of merchandise to friends for approval, give instant feedback to the rest of the world on your retail experience, and compare your prices. They may even use it to shop your competitors- from your store! You can’t control this; you need to work with it. What you need to do is provide a retail experience so compelling and immersive that it builds its own social network. Provide selfie points for customers. Merchandise beautifully so that it gets shared and blogged. Provide extra touch points of design and service that get mentioned. And maintain and manage expectations so you can exceed them. Initiatives like “smart” change rooms can be gimmicks- there is no longevity, maintenance is an issue, and they fall into disrepair very quickly. By far the most useful aspect of technology as far as the customer is concerned would be a merchandise planning software that can tell them what’s in stock at what store at any given time, before they visit. That’s not glamorous but it’s service. It’s a perfect end-to-end connection of supply chain and social media technology.

Food for thought?
Tune in next time for the next five rules.

 

Gary McCartney is the owner of McCartney Design and can be reached on newbusiness@mccartneydesign.com.au

14 October 2015
Article Archive
Connect with us

Employment Opportunities

 
 
Suite 502, The Bayer Building, 275 Alfred St North, North Sydney NSW 2060

We turn complex problems into
beautifully simple solutions

SITE DESIGN BY McCARTNEY DESIGN
SITE BUILD BY TEAPOT Digital