Elements of Retail Store Interior Design

The retail store’s exterior is responsible for attracting the passers by both actual and potential customers to induce them to enter the store. The store’s interior is much more important than the exterior as it welcomes the actual consumer.

The layout and design of a retail store communicate a significant amount of information about the retailer to the consumer. The retail store’s interior must contribute to the retailer’s fundamental objectives of minimizing operational expenses and maximize sales and consumer satisfaction, therefore, profits. To attain these goals, the store’s interior not only must be inviting, comfortable and convenient for the consumer. It must also permit the retailer to use the interior space efficiency and effectively.  Let us try to touch up on the basic elements of the retail store interior design.

1. Fixtures

A major consideration in developing an appropriate store design involves the use of fixtures. They are used to display merchandise, to help sell it, to guard it, and to provide a storage space for it. They should be attractive and focus customer’s attention and interest on the merchandise.

One way to bring the cost of fixtures down is standardization; customization is expensive, and construction budgets today allow this luxury only where speciality departments can justify the cost. Some stores are trying to keep a lid on fixture costs with walls that don’t reach the ceiling but instead begin two feet down. Besides being cheaper and faster to put up, they don’t affect sprinklers, lighting, heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC),and other ceiling ducts.

Most stores are moving toward smaller and less dense fixtures than what they previously used, which is another way to control costs. But even more significantly, the trend reflects the reduction in many stores inventory levels. Glass cubes that once consisted of sixteen inch and eighteen-inch high bins may now be housed in twelve-inch bins. This way, although there are fewer items in each unit, it still looks full. Another trend is a renewed demand for wood and glass, which in recent years were demand for wood and glass, which in recent years were over shadowed by the more affordable clear plastic.

2. Displays

Display an important role in a retail store. An attractive and informative display can help sell gods. Poorly designed displays can ruin the store’s atmosphere and center an uncomfortable setting. Since displays often take up premium space with in the store, they carry a heavy burden of productivity in terms of creating sales. There are several principals of rules of displays that help ensure their effectiveness :

  • Balance. In building a display, it is important to make sure that it appears balanced to the viewer. This is achieved by arranging products in a symmetric manner. Displays may have formal or informal balance. Formal balance is achieved by placing similar items equal distance from the center. Informal balance is achieved by placing different sized goods or objects away from the center based on their relative size.
  • Dominance. All displays should have a central point that will attract the viewer’s eye. The point may be achieved by using prominent piece of merchandise, such as a diamond pendant, using dramatic colors, such as a bright scarf, or using streamers arranged toward the center of the display.
  • Eye Movement. Displays should direct the eyes away from the point of dominance in a systematic fashion, instead of encouraging them to jump from one end to the other. If the viewer’s eyes move indiscriminately around the display, the shopper will miss some of the merchandise and will not get the full message intended.
  • Gradation. The gradation is the sequence in which items are arranged. For example, small items are usually placed at the front of the display, medium items father back, and large items at the rear. The creates harmony and an appealing illusion.
  • Height of Merchandise. Merchandise that has the greatest effect should be placed at the eye level of the customer. Because viewers tend to look straight ahead, merchandise placed at eyes level is most likely to be seen.
  • Grouping Merchandise. Too many retailers place one item after another in a long row. Shoe stores, jewellery stores, and mass merchandisers tend to do this. Stores with large amounts of one item or with one line of goods are likely to build longer displays. Instead of creating long displays where the customer has problems picking out merchandise, retailers should group items so that the customer’s eyes cannot travel from group to group but stop and focus on particular products.
  • Sales appeal. Displays should always show the best merchandise that the retailer has to offer.
  • Keeping it Simple. Since displays take up a great deal valuable space, there is a tendency to get as much into them as possible. While the idea of more is better may be true for chocolate, it is not true for displays. Too many items in a display district and confuse the consumer, and they tend to create an atmosphere of chaos or congestion.

As discussed above, displays take up some of the most valuable space in the store. Using show-moving items for display is a waste. One way to generate sales appeal is to choose the most important feature of the merchandise being displayed and focus on it. Another way is create a theme that already exists within the customer’s mind, such as Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or Back to School. Customers relate best when they can grasp the total picture.

3. Color

The psychological effect of color continues to be important to retailers. Color is also important in ware house type stores because of the vast open area of the interior. Bold colors are frequently used to highlight merchandise sections or departments and to reduce attention to what is typically an open–girder ceiling. Clearly, intelligent use of color is important in store design. Since people are drawn to warm colors, yellow and red can help draw customers into the store through the entrance. Cool colors such as blues and greens tend to calm people and are useful in areas where customers need time to deliberate over the purchase decision.

4. Lighting

Proper lighting is one of the most important considerations in retail design. At one point in time the function of lighting was to provide customers with a means of finding their way through the store. Today, lighting has become a display medium. It is an integral part of the store’s interior and exterior design. Lighting should match the mood retailer is attempting to create with the rest of the store decor and should complement, rather than detract from, the merchandise.

General illumination is needed throughout the store. However, most stores need additional localized lighting to highlight special displays and showcases, help bring out colors  and relieve the monotony of even, overall light. Too much or too little lighting, or even the wrong type of lighting, can create false impressions about the merchandise on display. Incandescent lighting used alone, for example, accents yellow and red. Fluorescent lights frequently build up blues and purple. Therefore, retailers must use a lighting combination that gives a correct impression of the merchandise while de-emphasizing the source of the light itself.

5. Ceilings

Ceilings represent a potentially important element interior design. In older stores, ceilings of twelve to sixteen feet are still common, but most department store ceilings are now in the nine-to-ten foot range. Remember, the higher the ceiling, the more space to heat and cool at increasing energy rates. Ceiling heights are becoming much less standardized within stores. Designers are making use of varied ceiling drops to create distinct for different departments within a store.

6. Flooring

Retailers are taking a sophisticated “return investment” approach to flooring decisions. Firms are willing to pay higher-up-front installation costs for more expensive materials if they see a return in greater durability and reduced maintenance expenses. Flooring choices are important because the coverings can be used to separate departments, muffle noise in high – traffic areas, and strengthen the store image. The range of choices for floor coverings is endless: Carpeting, wood, terrazzo, quarry tile, and vinyl composition all have applications in different settings.

7. Shelving

The material used for shelving as well as its design must be compatible with the merchandising strategy and the over all image desired. Stainless steel shelving creates an entirely different effect than the painted wood cubes in the Country Seat or the typical metal shaving seen in a general merchandise store, Glass shelving, framed in the woods, creates an element of elegance difficult to achieve otherwise. General shelving considerations and merchandise display are discussed in the next selection.

8. Plano Grams and Shelf Layout Design

One of the key tools of modern shelf and layout planning is the Plano gram. This is a graphical representation that visually shows the space to be allocated by describing where every stock keeping unit(SKU) within a space is physically located. Every product has its own SKU. The Plano gram produces a map for the length, height, and depth of shelves with the number and location of the SKU.

9. Other considerations

There are other considerations that can round out the image and atmosphere created by the interior design elements. For example, the type and sound level of music can be focused on a given market segment. Scents can be used to help identify with a market group or create a feeling about being in the store. The level of maintenance and cleanliness also sets a tone.

Credit: Retail Management-AU

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