Wednesday, October 12, 2011: 03:53:48 PM

Retail Guest Column

Store designing tips - Deepak Aggarwal, KAZO

The right store design can go a long way in enhancing sales for retailers

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It can take as little as 5 seconds for a customer to look around the store and make a decision either to give it a chance or turn on her heels and run. In such a highly competitive area like retail, you need to keep in mind that you get only one chance to make a great first impression on your consumer, so you have to use it well and design your store thoughtfully.

Here are a few basic but important tips to help you come up with a good store layout:
·         Make your customers comfortable. Nobody likes tiny cramped rooms, but white open spaces might provide them with an awkward feeling of being in view. It is therefore crucial to maintain a balanced décor that is neither awkwardly sprawling nor too small for comfort.
·         Adjust the spaces accordingly. For example, if you sell children’s products, your customers will probably be mothers coming to the store with their babies, so you have to make broad aisles. Identifying and provisioning for the most expected category of customer is therefore a must.
·         Engage many senses in order to deliver as pleasant and memorable experience as possible: sight (window displays and visual merchandising), smell (subtle aroma in the store), touch (feeling of the garments), hearing (music in the background). This enhances chances of converting a window shopper into a buyer.
·         Reflect the spirit of the company – use props, lightening techniques, fixtures, images and merchandising displays. Be it a multi-brand or a single brand retail store, it is important to make sure that each brand gets its unique and distinct identity. Considering the high level of competition in sectors such as FMCG, this is often a major challenge and retailers have to tread extra cautiously to make sure that each of the brands are given their due exposure.
·         Instruct your salespeople to be kind and helpful without acting pushy, as this kind of behavior is very discouraging. Customers tend to come back to a store again and again when the service is good. While it is not possible for every retailer to hire trained staff, it is important that proper training is provided to the staff after recruitment to make sure that their attitude and customer relations is at par with the industry standards and in line with the company policy.
·         Focus on keeping the store well-maintained instead of promoting it through ads and hoardings outside the mall. Make sure that the advertisement and hoardings of the store show the exact state of the store and not an exaggerated version. In certain cases customers can feel disappointed when they head to the store after seeing the images on the advertisements.
Since most of the retailers today opt for specialists when it comes to designing stores as well as hiring, store designing and staff management have emerged as critical areas in the retail sector. It is likely that store designing will emerge as an important component of retail education in the days ahead.
Deepak Aggarwal is the managing director of KAZO

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