A fitting solution

Storefit interior – A redesign can often cut costs, for example, by cutting down on energy usage, reducing labour requirements and any costs the management feels crucial to the bottom line
Storefit interior – A redesign can often cut costs, for example, by cutting down on energy usage, reducing labour requirements and any costs the management feels crucial to the bottom line

They say first impressions last and when it comes to retail premises that can mean the difference between gaining or losing a customer for life. We look at what’s new in shop-fitting and design to catch your customer’s eye

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12 September 2008 | 0

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Storefit interior – A redesign can often cut costs, for example, by cutting down on energy usage, reducing labour requirements and any costs the management feels crucial to the bottom line

Numerous surveys indicate that over 70% of purchase decisions are made in the store while shopping, which underlines the importance of getting the customer into the premises to make that decision. By placing emphasis on design, in-store promotion and the shopping environment, it increases the influence on impulse and mood-related purchasing.

It’s safe to say that in today’s business world, the environment and design will differentiate the image and nature of the retailer and, ultimately, their overall success.

Good design can transform a store from something typical to something exceptional. Today’s progressive retailer is looking to be continually ahead of the competition. New design and state of the art equipment will enable a retailer to attract more customers while increasing turnover.

Using design to create ambience and attract attention

Ivan O’Donovan, sales manger of Shop Equipment Ltd (SEL), believes design is all about creating an ambience within the store, using various colours and graphics to help draw customers’ attention to particular areas that the retailer wants to focus on, such as special promotions, chill cabinets and so on.

O’Donovan said a lot of new trends were also being highlighted within stores, such as dairy-free, gluten-free and whole foods. Unsurprisingly, own brand goods are also frequently signposted in-store nowadays. According to O’Donovan, shops that are designed well or that get a redesign will make more money. “We have worked with stores and we’d go back some months after the work was completed just to review what was done and we’d hear remarks such as ‘the customer reaction has been great’ and ‘business has improved’.

It would not be uncommon for a 10% improvement as a baseline figure as the initial return on investment in redesign. After all, there’s no point spending the money unless you can get something back.”
The cogs of that return on investment start to turn in the community where a curiosity value can draw in the crowds. “And once they start streaming in it’s up to the shopkeeper to keep them coming back. I do believe that any design investment, on lighting, equipment and shelving, will bring a return.”

A few tricks of the trade

Entering a well designed and lit premises may seem like the shop has a perfectly natural feel to it. However, there are, according to O’Donovan, a few tricks of the trade at play, such as directing people to the left of the shop on entering (clockwise motion), and moving products around the store so customers will have to cover more ground, which ultimately drive impulse buys. “The big trick then is to get the customer out through the checkout as quickly as possible, and bear in mind it’s the last point of contact with the customer.

“One of the trends now is that stores are putting in queue management systems. And they are retailing at the checkout and counters with point of sale items such as magazines, papers, chocolate and other general foods and items. Marks & Spencer would be good example of this and do it very well.”

But what of smaller shops who might shy away from the possible or imagined costs associated with a brand new layout? “We can meet with the owners, do a drawing, come up with a proposal at no cost to them,” said O’Donovan. “If we came back with a particular budget and it was too big we could look at paring it back to suit the retailer’s needs. We would work very hard to get it done within the budget.”

Storefit solution – Maximising visual impact in-store enhances the shopping experience and impulse purchase opportunities. Furthermore, it is also important to allocate food-to-go concepts appropriately, and achieve the correct product mix and flow

Storefit solution – Maximising visual impact in-store enhances the shopping experience and impulse purchase opportunities. Furthermore, it is also important to allocate food-to-go concepts appropriately, and achieve the correct product mix and flow

Designed to make savings

Jennifer Fannin, marketing manager Martin Food Equipment, argues it is possible for a retailer to invest in a redesign and use it to cut costs, for example by cutting down on energy usage, reducing labour requirements and any costs the management feels crucial to the bottom line. It can also drive efficiencies by reducing food waste, and improving food holding and quality.

Fannin said Martin Food Equipment’s main strategy is to achieve new means of driving impulse purchases in-store by utilising each millimetre of the shop’s floorspace.

According to Fannin, maximising visual impact within a store undoubtedly enhances the shopping experience and impulse purchase opportunities. In addition, she said allocating food-to-go concepts appropriately in-store, achieving the correct product mix and having the correct flow is an important combination to get right.

Fannin believes selective investment in the replacement of older, conventional food equipment saves money and increases bottom line profit margins. An example of this, said Fannin, is the Turbochef, a rapid cook oven which can cook up to 12 times faster than conventional cooking, with no extraction, water or waste (see case study).

Built to make sales

Padraig Nolan, head of sales for Storefit said innovative practical equipment in a store is critical as it keeps the brand fresh and customers coming back. He said a modern, welcoming retail premises is crucial to attract the customer to a shop and gain advantage over the competition.

As an example of how a display can increase sales, Nolan pointed to the switch to upright stadium style confectionery units as opposed to flat counter top displays.He said once the product is in the right place, displayed correctly and free of clutter it is now “in danger of being sold”.

“We are now installing queuing systems in many convenience stores. These have the combined effect of providing more selling space whilst organising the queues to the cash counters in a more efficient manner at the busiest times of the day. This creates a win-win situation for the retailer.”

Indeed, according to anecdotal evidence, Nolan has seen up to 30% increase in sales for retailers after new installations. “This might occur in a store where there has been no gain in shop floor space so one can only conclude that any increase is down to the redesign of the premises.”

Storefit interior – Designers and shop fitters use certain tricks of the trade to encourage consumer spend. Directing people to the left of the shop on entering (clockwise motion), or moving products around the store so the customers will have to cover more of the shop results in increased impulse buys

Storefit interior – Designers and shop fitters use certain tricks of the trade to encourage consumer spend. Directing people to the left of the shop on entering (clockwise motion), or moving products around the store so the customers will have to cover more of the shop results in increased impulse buys

One of this writer’s pet peeves is the overlit, sterile, anodyne stores that have emerged in some areas of the retail sector. While few would welcome a return to the dark dingy caves of times past, is there a way to ensure a balance is struck?
“Our challenge is to tailor the design for each individual client,” said Nolan. “There is a vast difference between the brief for a large DIY retailer and a high street boutique but it’s one that we are asked to achieve on a daily basis.
“The overall design needs to have focus points and some bespoke features built in. You need to break the monotony with regards to the design and give each store its own unique signature.”

While each shop is different in what it wants and can achieve, Nolan believes there are a few ‘musts’. “The atmosphere that is created can not be imposing with the most important thing being the delivery of a unique shopping experience for the customer that is a natural extension of your brand. We achieve this for the most part by maximising the display space without compromising the customer’s comfort.”

With Ireland currently in economically stringent times is it possible or sensible for some shop owners to invest money in transforming their business? “The cost of upgrading needs to be considered but the price of doing nothing needs to be taken into account just as seriously or it is likely that the competition will drive ahead if you remain stagnant.
“We begin by discussing the specific requirements of the retailer and follow through with a proposal and budget to meet those requirements. And we are able to offer alternative solutions to meet the customer budget,” said Nolan.

 

Case Study*

Michael Scally, a Dublin city centre Mace retailer, unplugged two panini griddles in November 2006, replacing them with a Turbochef. This device not only instantly extended his ability to cook more and different foods but also reduced his business’s electricity consumption by approximately €1,400 bi-monthly.

Michael’s savings in electricity expense alone (irrespective of his increased turnover and swifter customer serving time) paid for the entire cost of the Turbochef and its electricity consumption within a year.

Another massive energy and labour saving solution for progressive retail foodservice delis is the Henny Penny Smart Combi oven. With additional cooking capacity of 60%,  this cuts cooking time and filling cabinets down substantially. Smart Combi is a boilerless oven, which is 55% more efficient that its competitor.

*Courtesy of Martin Food Equipment

 

About the suppliers

Shop Equipment Ltd

Shop Equipment Limited is based at Citywest Business Campus and has regional offices in Cork and Newry. The company is a leading supplier of equipment primarily to the retail, hospitality and health and beauty industries. Shop Equipment has established a strong reputation for innovation, sourcing of new products and maintaining a high level of customer service and satisfaction

Storefit

For over 30 years Storefit’s teams of expert designers and craftsmen have delivered complete shopfitting and refurbishment services to virtually all sectors of the retail market. Storefit is a complete design led retail projects company that has established a cornerstone of differentiation in its design and timber manufacturing facilities.

Martin Food Equipment

Martin Food Equipment fulfils the challenges of today’s retail convenience market, which not only seeks to find methods of increasing and maintaining sales but also to provide new effective cost cutting solutions which maximise retail profit margins. Through combining innovative design with Martin Food Equipment’s ability to identify where value can be added to their customer’s retail business, the company helps its clients achieve future growth.

 

10 top tips for success with a retail design project

  1. Set the project in context: Consider what your competitors are doing and define your retail strategy as part of a wider corporate strategy
  2. Balance research with intuition: Understand when and how consumer research can help and also when intuition and professional design experience must prevail
  3. Involve all parties: Get everyone to buy in to your plans and understand the goals from the outset
  4. Agree budgets at the outset: Ensure that the budget is realistic and be honest about what you can achieve and when. This will create clarity around whether retail refreshment or full refurbishment can be achieved
  5. Create a vision: Even if you can only move one step towards it today, at least all retail design will be consistent and work towards a longer-term goal
  6. Define a clear approvals process :Design by committee must be avoided at all costs. It is essential to designate one person who has final sign-off of the concept and that they are empowered to make decisions on the spot. If different parties (subcontractors) are managing different aspects of the project, it is essential that they all meet regularly to table concerns and discuss scheduling
  7. Set clear aims and objectives: Agree goals for the short, medium and long term. What do you need to achieve today? What do you hope to achieve tomorrow?
  8. Monitor the results: And remember that these can be both tangible and intangible. Results range from consumer feedback and sales figures through to more intangible results, including improved brand equity and ability to gain presence within more prestigious retail locations
  9. Prioritise good service: Always invest in staff training alongside a new concept. All good retail design depends on good service, as the environment can only set the scene and create desire
  10. Manage the roll-out or implementation: Whether you are rolling out a design concept globally, or just across two stores, ensure that you have a network of local partners to project manage the implementation of the store at local level
 

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