The Main Principles of Retail Interior Design

Nowadays online stores are gradually forcing out the physical shopping experience. This is not good or bad but a natural process of the society development. This only means that the shop owners should be more inventive and use all their creativity to be able to provide competition to the online peers. With regard to this fact, there appeared lots of techniques and tricks that help the physical shops to stay afloat. One of them is retail interior design, which we are going to discuss in this article.

The idea of retail design goes back to the middle of the 19th century. It appeared in Paris and was quickly taken up by New York, London, and Chicago stores. However, in the recent years, when the physical shops need to battle to survive, retail interior design started playing out in fresh colors. So what is modern retail design all about? Let’s find out.

Defining Your Space

Thinking over the idea of retail shop design you need to take into consideration lots of factors. First of all, you need to consider the environment your store is located in. Is it a shopping mall? A busy street? A bedroom district? Depending on the outer environment you can start thinking about the retail interior design. The next thing to take into account is the space you have. It will influence the choice of the layout and the display of the fixtures. Then, get to know your customer. This is a number one rule in any business. Knowing your customer you will be able to predict his behavior. And this is what you can use in creating the interior space. Finally, you should not underestimate the role of shop windows design. They should tell the story that will attract the potential customers to step across your threshold.

Southbank Center Shop, London, UK. The Christmas window shop catches the eye and invites the customers in.

Positive First Impression

After your shop windows have successfully drawn the potential customer in, he steps into the world you have created. You should make sure that his first steps in your store will make him go further. This area is called threshold area or decompression zone. The customer requires these first few feet to adjust to the new space and to create the first impression of your store. At this time the customer’s mind is performing too many operations at a time and his attention is distracted. That’s why he is likely to miss most of the staff you put by the door. The best idea is to display just several key items in the threshold area. The experts also advise playing on the contrast of lighting and flooring with the outside environment.

Moorhuttli store, Wengen, Switzerland. The store of fashion and lifestyle. The owner keeps the front door open and displays some products outside to help the visitors to adjust to the atmosphere of the store even before they come in. 

The Rule of the Right Side

It is a well-known fact that finding themselves in an unfamiliar environment the majority of the people tend to turn to the right. Why not use it in your retail store design? You should apply rigor to the designing of this section. The first wall your customer sees turning to the right is called power wall and this is one of the key merchandising areas. The most common mistake is using this area for displaying of the basic products. Use your power wall to present the new items, hottest propositions, tell product stories, etc. Keep in mind that there is more than one power wall in your store. Analyze your store’s layout. You can stand in different places and look around. The walls that stand out are your power walls. Use them wisely.

Old Navy, N.Y., clothing and accessories store. The power wall with bright seasonal collection attracts the customer’s eye.

Sequential Experience

Successful retail interior design implies planning the store’s layout to optimize the customer’s experience. You need to guide your customer through your store the way you want but make it softly and smoothly, making the customer think that it is he who is choosing the pass. A well-thought layout not only increases the chances that the customer will buy something but also helps to keep control of the traffic in the store. How to achieve this?

There are three possible layouts that can be used in your retail shop design: grid layout, loop layout, and free flow layout. The grid layout is an ideal solution for grocery stores, as it provides clear visibility through the entire store. In the loop layout, there is a clearly defined main aisle that circles through the shop. It makes the customer walk through the whole store and come back to the front again. Free flow layout leaves a lot of space for your creativity. There are no fixed aisles or straight lines. This layout offers lots of opportunities and is often used by specialty retailers.

Target, one of the largest discount store retailers in the United States, utilizes loop layout.

Speed Bumps

People today are always in a hurry and do lots of things on-the-run. They read in the subway car, eat in the fast-food restaurants, take coffee-to-go and speak on the phone on the run track. And, of course, they have a tendency to shop in a hurry. Using some retail interior design ideas you can try to slow them down. You can use anything that can give the customer a visual break. Make use of merchandise outposts. These are small display fixtures in between aisles featuring new or seasonal items and inducing impulse purchases. You can use small tables for this purpose as well if the layout leaves enough space. Don’t forget about the golden rule of displaying higher-demand products at eye-level.   And, of course, don’t forget to rotate the items on your speed bumps once a week.

Lululemon Store, London, UK. An athletic apparel retailer. Using small tables and fixtures featuring new collections they make the customers slow down.

Comfort Above All

People really value their private space. They value it to such extent that they would rather opt out of buying the thing they need, than allow someone to invade it. This is what Paco Underhill, consumer behavior expert, called “butt-brush factor”. Customers would avoid going in an aisle where there is a possibility of brushing someone’s backside. To prevent such situations try to place merchandise that requires long examination and contemplation in a more remote area of the store.

Never try to save on the lighting. Customers tend to avoid poorly lit areas. If there are dark spots resulting from track lighting, you may consider the idea of installing a second level of track lights. It will throw off shadows guaranteeing better showing.

You can also provide your customers with a bit of comfort by creating resting areas with comfortable seats. This will give your customer an opportunity to rest and then continue shopping with renewed vigor. If the customer is accompanied by someone who is not interested in shopping he will also appreciate your forethought and care. A little trick of retail interior design is in keeping the seats facing the merchandise.

Mode Weber, Rorschach, Switzerland. Fashion store. The store provides small comfort zones so that the customers have an opportunity to relax and contemplate the new collection at the same time.

Checkout Counter

If the threshold area creates the first impression of your store, the checkout counter is what your client experiences last. And it can either contribute to the positive shopping experience or alloy it. First of all, you need to determine the place for your checkout counter. There are different options with their pros and cons. However, it is better to locate checkout in a natural stopping point. We have already defined that entering the store the customers would turn right. So the best choice for the checkout is on the left front side of the store. Still, other variants are also possible. You should take into consideration the size of your store, the layout you have chosen, a number of people in your staff, etc.

We have already touched upon the subject of the private space. It is also applicable to the checkout counters. You should avoid creating claustrophobic spaces. Give your customers enough room. This includes also space for the handbag and purchases. Use the time the customer spends at the checkout at a profit. Create interesting displays of products behind the counter. The checkout counter itself can be loaded with “shut-up” toys for children, some impulse items and the things that customers often need to have at hand. And, of course, be polite, smile and take interest in the shopping experience of your clients.

ENDPIECE, Seoul, Korea. A small boutique selling glasses. The checkout counter is located on the left front side of the store.

And, in conclusion, there is always room for perfection. Creating your retail interior design is a constant process. You can always add and tweak details to diversify the customers’ experience. In order to optimize the customer’s walkthrough, you can make this journey yourself. Simply imagine yourself in the customer’s shoes and try to look at your store with his eyes. Involve your colleagues, friends, and family in this experiment. Communicate with your clients and ask for their opinion. This can be real life communication, various polls or some other creative way, suitable for your store. Just be open for new ideas and they will not be long in coming.