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Here at Studio X we go through a highly involved and all-encompassing process of understanding the business of each and every one of our clients. That, for us, is what underpins any great retail concept. But, whilst every store has its own unique set of customers, business criteria, brand pillars, operational requirements and commercial goals, there are still some fundamental and foundational building blocks that should be observed in order to create a truly compelling retail store.
In the age of the ‘non-sale’ driven brand experience, your store should seek to educate more than ever before, and do so in an inspirational way.
Leading Chinese medicine firm Vitagreen wanted to vertically integrate their revolutionary medicinal Teapod system into a retail network of experience centers; so they came to us to help them create a future retail store concept and give them the tools to roll-it out across a 100 store network. We developed a retail strategy and created an award winning flagship that brought product, brand and customer together.
Make It sensory, tactile and interactive, and all that fun stuff. A retail store design that is abundantly engaging and can be experienced not simply as a place to buy stuff, but more ‘a playground for discovery’ will enhance loyalty, improve dwell time and build emotional bonds that draw your audience into your brand story.
Don’t make your customers have to fight their way to a product or service. Ensure sightlines are clear and purposeful. Encourage customers to pick up products and get a feel for what they might buy. Make the entire process from arrival-to-purchase-to-departure a seamless, self-explanatory and intuitive one.
In addition to creating a highly navigable store, aim to give customers the space to appreciate it. More fresh air around certain products will add to the feeling that the store design has been thoughtfully put together and curated. Where density is required, ensure it is done in a thoughtful, neat and tidy manner, then use hero products to showcase and abbreviate product collections and to avoid overwhelming the audience.
We are moving beyond the age of omni-channel and into an era where bricks and mortar and eCommerce are more seamless and more in tandem than ever before. When designing a new store, always keep the objectives of your other channels (and those of your competitors) front of mind to avoid cannibalising your own goals or by creating a retail design solution that is in some way redundant in today's ever changing commercial landscape.
Start with your window displays. They are one of the most powerful marketing tools you have and provide an opportunity to showcase your best products and services. Your window display is like a movie trailer for your store. Aim to tell a story, create a focal point so the story stands out, make it bold, keep it simple, and update them regularly.
At the shopfront, consider bus stop signage for narrow streets. In smaller stores, run prototype signage mockups to ensure the scale suits the audience and the context of the environment. Use iconography, and visual hierarchy to allow customers to simply glance and go. Consider environmental messaging to catch attention, educate or entertain like we did when we designed the award-winning kitchen showroom and experience center for Lee Yuen Housewares.
Great retail design allows customers to do what they want at their own pace, in a space that allows them to explore on their own terms. Stores should be intuitive and have no barrier to entry or barrier to engagement. Ask yourself, can the store educate the customer about this product with little to no intervention by the staff?
3D scanners, robots and QR codes are wonderful innovations and when used in smart ways, will, more often than not, enhance the store experience. But never use technology for the sake of it. Many of today’s technology will be redundant in the not too distant future and technology has a nasty habit of looking very dated, very quickly. Don’t be the ones to specify the hugely expensive holographic, selfie-taking 3D mirror that no one ever uses.
Every shopper carries with them the ability to shoot a movie, photograph a moment or share an opinion instantly to millions of other shoppers. Retail store design always needs to consider this and how to best create engaging, aesthetically pleasing elements that shoppers will want to capture and share with their friends. This is the best form of marketing available, it goes to work for you around the clock, it self perpetuates, and it’s free!
We are delighted to announce that we have been shortlisted for a prestigious Design Week Award for our work with Lee Yuen Housewares.
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