A retail store’s front is the first impression that consumer has for a store. Three components make up retail store’s front namely, front configurations, window displays and store’s entrances.
1. The Store-front Configuration
There are three possible front configurations namely, Straight front Angled front and Arcade front. The “straight front” is a store configuration that runs parallel to the side-walk, street, mall or a parking lot. Usually the only break in the front is a small recess for an entrance. This store front design is operationally efficient because it does not reduce the interior selling space. However, it lacks consumer appeal because it is monotonous and less attractive than either of the other configurations. Window shoppers can inspect only a small part of any display from anyone position when retailers use the straight configuration. Another limitation is that reflective glare from windows can inhibit window-shopping, while heavy foot traffic and little privacy deter in store shopping. The “angled-front” configuration overcomes the monotony of the straight front by positioning the store’s front at a slight-angle to the traffic arteries. To create a more attractive and interesting front, retailers that use the angled front approach place windows and entrances off center or at one end of the store’s front. Angled fronts also give the window-shopper a better viewing angle of the merchandise is the window and reduce the possible window glare. The entrance in an angled front is usually located at the most recessed part, to funnel and direct consumers into the store. It provides more protection for the window-shoppers than straight-front. The major limitation of the angled front is that it reduces the interior space. the retailer otherwise could use for selling operations. The “arcade front” is characterized by several recessed windows and entrances. The main merits are : (1) It increases the store’s frontage exposure and display areas; (2) It provides the shopper with several protected areas for window-shopping; (3) It increases the privacy under which the shopper can inspect window displays; (4) It creates an attractive, relaxing atmosphere for the shopper and (5) It reduces glare for major part of the store front. The demerits are: (1) It reduces substantially the interior space for selling and displaying merchandise; (2) It calls for huge investment in construction and construction materials and (3) It requires a professional display staff to make full use of the arcade concept of window settings.
2. Window Displays
The number, the size and the type of windows of a store has sure to alter beyond one’s imagination its exterior appearance and the general impression it produces on consumers. There are different types of window display patterns and retailer can choose anyone or combination to his advantage to maximize exposure and sales.
Windows are the ‘face’ of the store. They are of great importance since they constitute the first impression that the store makes on the customers. They have two major objectives namely: (1) The prestige of the store may be enhanced by imaginative special event windows such as novelty Christmas or Easter Windows, or Valentine windows; (2) The merchandise featured in regular window displays may generate large business much as an advertisement does. One can think of at least four types of window displays namely, Elevated, Ramped shadow-box and Island windows. ‘Elevated windows, are the display windows with floors of varying heights. The floor is elevated in the range of 12 to 36 inches above side-walk-level. The choice of the floor height depends on the kind of merchandise and the elevation necessary to place, the display at the typical shopper’s eye level. Elevated windows give consumers an excellent visual perspective of the retailer’s merchandise and also protect the glass from damage that might otherwise occur at side-walk levels. The retailer can use one of the three backings for elevated windows namely, open backed, closed back and partial back. “Open- backed” window is on which permits the consumer to view the store’s interior. “Closed-back” windows prevent that view and “partial-back” windows allows the consumer to see only a part of the store’s interior. “Ramped windows” are the standard display windows having a display floor higher in back than in front. The floor ramp either is a wedge or is tiered, while backing may be either open, partially opened or closed. The basic advantage of the ramped display window is the greater visual impact of merchandise displayed in the rear. “Shadow-box windows” are small, box-like display windows set at eye level heights. They are usually completely enclosed and focus the shopper’s attention on a selected line of merchandise. Mostly jewellery stores use this type. “Island windows” are four-sided display windows, isolated from the rest of the store. Used in conjunction with arched store front configuration, the island windows can be effectively used to highlight the retailer’s merchandise line from all angles. However, this display merit might turn to be a demerit in case retailer fails to select and position the merchandise carefully.
3. Store Entrance
One can not forget the entrance of the store which is so vital for operational and success reasons including convenience and security aspects. Retailers should design the store entrances for the customer’s safety, comfort and convenience, as well as for guiding the customer into the store. The design considerations for store’s entrance include: (1) Easy to-open doors, (2) Good lighting, (3) Flat entry surfaces having no steps, (4) Use of non-skid materials, (5) Little or no entrance cluster such as merchandise tables and (6) Wider doors to allow easy carrying of large parcels. In addition the store entrances must meet all the access regulations for the handicapped customers.