BEYOND THE SHORES

Achieving success through sales

When it comes to retail, one examines it with certain degree of benevolent indifference and asks the question "What’s the big idea?" After cutting through all the  glamour, glitz, and hoopla, one realises the basic goal of a retail venture is to SELL! Making the sale creates jobs, opportunities and profits that make the effort worthwhile. This is the real common denominator motive of everyone working in the retailing industry. Making the sale is the retailer's truest and accurate measurement of success.

When all the players associated with the retail venture clearly understand that their job is to maximise the sales numbers the process becomes very simple and exciting. The only question that needs to be asked is what is the best action to facilitate sales? Well, from an architectural point of view, I will give you all the key points you should keep in mind to make sure that you have done your bit to help the retailer.

From the perspective of finding a suitable location of a store, one may investigate if there is sufficient foot traffic; is the demographic of the area conducive to products and is the cost structure outlined in business plan? If it is a street location one has to see if there is enough parking in the vicinity, the availability of passenger drop areas and if there are any well-known estinations which bring a constant stream of people to the area.

If the location is inside an enclosed mall it is important to ensure the location is around well travelled corridors of the mall. If it is an existing location then it is necessary to evaluate the impact of the adjoining retail business.

One may ask what all of this has to do with the process of selling. Worder for the sale to take place the potential customer has to enter the shop. One can be selling the greatest products, have the best sales people, even the best prices but if the customer walks right by the store nothing can happen.

  One can be selling the greatest products, have the best sales people, even the best prices but if the customer walks right by the store nothing can happen   BEYOND THE SHORES  

 

In order to compete with all of this it becomes essential that some aspect of presentation helps overcome this distraction and communicate to the customer quickly and clearly what the business is all about. This is the first step for a retail store to get noticed and has the potential of leading one to the ultimate aim of retailing, a customer proceeding with merchandise to the cash register.

One can say that the process of getting noticed involves transferring a perception or a feeling from sub-conscious to the conscious mind. When one is in a shopping  environment one is aware of one's environment consisting of shapes, forms, colours etc. in what appears to be a vague dream like environment. Then suddenly something stands out which draws one's attention. This is the time a window-shopper becomes a customer. That is what determines if the cash register is going to ring or not.

A designer should be aware of the following most common elements of a retail store and skillfully integrate them in the design which creates a homogenous image of the store that customers find irresistible to stay away from.

  BEYOND THE SHORES   The perfect store front architecture utilises components such as entry doors, display windows and signs and finishes and sometimes a unique design element masterfully integrated to translate and project the vision that started out as a fleeting thought which was cognised by the conscious  


The store front is the portal to the store. It is the "best foot forward" for the world. It is the letter of introduction, the first impression and a billboard that works 24x7 or as long as the business operates. The perfect store front architecture utilises the essential components such as entry doors, display windows and signs and finishes and sometimes a unique design element masterfully integrated to translate and project the vision that started out as a fleeting thought which was cognised by the conscious.

The store front design zone area is usually defined as the first six to eight feet from the entry area. The other elements of a typical retail store besides store front are signs, graphics, window display areas, store interiors, floor and wall finishes, ceilings, lighting, wall merchandising system, floor fixtures, cash wrap station and point of sales areas, fitting rooms and waiting areas, back room and storage areas. All of these elements are crucial in helping propel sales for the retailer as the decisions made for each element affect the way a customer looks at a store and how the store functions.

  While designing a store front we ask what product is going to be displayed in the window and how. Do the finishes and general ambience created for the project assist the price point perception of the product sold and so on   BEYOND THE SHORES  


As architects and designers we are trained to design beautiful environments. I have seen many beautiful stores which are worthy of filling magazine pages only to notice that after a few months the store was closed because the sales did not materialise. While designing a store front we ask what product is going to be displayed in the window and how. Do the finishes and general ambience created for the project assist the price point perception of the product sold? Does the layout of the store expose the customer to the maximum amount of merchandising in the store? Is there a contrast between general and ambient light level enabling the special displays and leaving the customer with the thought that they can't leave the store without that one outfit.

The process is simple and fun. The key is never forget it is all about assisting the sales rest of it will flow on its own.
(The writer is the Founder & President, DRV Design, San Diego, USA. He earned his B Arch from Sir J J College of Architecture, Mumbai, and moved to the US in 1974. He can be contacted at serena.vora@gmail.com)