Nearly all my blogposts to date have concerned residential interiors, so it is high time I wrote about commercial spaces as well. In the past I have advised bars on colour choices and how to achieve the look they wanted, and as a Visual Merchandiser for Habitat, and love the variety that work provides. I have always loved boutique, small shops and endeavoured to support independents over corporate chain giants. With all that in mind I tailored my design and Visual Merchandising services for indie retailers, offering both face to face and online versions in an attempt to provide more affordable options for start-ups and businesses with small budgets or slow cashflow. So to compliment those, posts on retail interiors will now become a regular feature on the blog. (To receive only the retail-related posts direct to your inbox, subscribe here.) If you are a retailer and there's a particular topic you'd like to see covered, just email to me know and I'll try to oblige.
So, for the first VM post....
The interior and exterior of your store needs to be a reflection of your brand and values. Many independent retailers don’t even have a proper logo as such, so to those businesses the world of branding might seem intimidating, unnecessary and horribly expensive. It isn’t essential to invest in contracting a design company to create a full retail interior concept and brand, unless you are really aiming for the stars with your business and want the look and feel to be in place from the start, or desperately need a major overhaul. But, whatever the budget, the store design simply must chime with the business personality and ideal customer base, in everything from the product selection, colour palette, fixtures and fittings, lighting (both source and effect), flooring and so on…. every detail really!
But don’t let that cause overwhelm. Let’s break it down into a three fundamental areas that you cannot afford to neglect, and explore each one over the next few posts. First up.....
Are products displayed in your window easy to find once customers are in through the door? If they're not, frustration and disappointment will ensue. It will have been a waste of effort having displayed those products, especially if they have actually drawn people in. I mention this because I have seen it many times. Although it is good to generate conversation with customers, it is better that the catalyst for chat is not 'where on Earth is the thing I saw in the window?’. Customers can be shy or in a rush, and don’t always want to have to ask. Make a visual connection between a window display of products and the in-store display of those same products - visually guide them on a journey through the store.
Another thing people do not want to have to ask about is prices, so it is hugely important to ensure everything is clearly marked. This is different of course in serious sartorial boutiques of West London where it is unwritten law that there are never ever any price tags, because everyone knows that if one has to ask the price one clearly cannot afford it! But this is advice for more down to earth establishments, so stick to the price-everything-clearly rule.
Customers also hate having to ask for help with reaching something placed high up on a shelf, especially if there is no one immediately available to assist. So do ensure there is always stock within reach, and that everything is marked up clearly, correctly and attractively. These are obvious points, but such commonly (and easily) made mistakes. The best news is that these Visual Merchandising errors cost nothing to rectify. Result!
The next post will be about the all important floor-plan or layout. NEVER MISS A POST, SUBSCRIBE HERE!