When the store formula is being developed, the careful determination of the store layout is followed by the design of the 3-dimensional image of the store: the store design. Store design is much more than simply a matter of translating the flat store layout into a visually attractive spatial design. For this component of the toolbox, too, it is essential that your design clearly translates into the strategic positioning and market approach of the store formula. Colours, shapes and materials are therefore not only selected on the basis of the taste and vision of the designer or client, but rather on the basis of the image you wish the consumer to have of your store. The designer has to operate within this context. His or her creativity, quality and talent determine the final result.
The emotional aspect is highly important in the store design. Colours, shapes and materials, combined with the right selection of furniture and lighting, evoke a certain feeling: the visitor experiences the store emotionally. And fitting this emotion into the desired store brand perception is where the real art comes in.
Besides these emotional objectives of the store identity, the effect of the store design also has some functional aspects. These aspects have less to do with how the customer perceives the store, and more with how he moves around and finds his way. The store design can provide the customer with points of reference in the store. For instance, by painting walls in different colours or creating higher or lower rooms with a view. The excitement and surprise thus created is also important. Lighting plays an important role in this respect. The final – but not the least – important factor is that the design of the store is important for product presentations and displays. You can read more about this in the section on visual merchandising.
10 golden rules for store design
Rule 1 – The store as storyteller
The store interior should match the positioning of the store formula and is selected in such a way that the communicative aspect of the message conveyed by the design is never forgotten. This means that you need to make decisions that have been well thought out. There are a number of store design types that match certain positioning types. Store formulas are often developed on the basis of a combination of one or several types. Roughly, seven different store types can be distinguished:
The no-design store
The store has not been designed, but has been developed on the basis of sheer functionality. Straight aisles, white walls. General lighting at a high level. Hardly any emotional perception of colour, materials or spatial arrangement. Familiarity often prompted by nothing more than parts of the interior in the logo colours.
The market place
A store where product presentation and visual merchandising determine the ambiance. No advanced display formulas, but simple, product-oriented presentations. A great deal of atmosphere and warmth. Use of natural materials and colours. Often Mediterranean atmospheres. Accessible. Product-focused lighting. A high level of emotional perception. The store creates the impression that it has grown organically.
The formula store
Well-considered and well-thought out store image. Good integration of all the aspects of store design, layout and in-store graphics. Good variety of various types of lighting. Can be contemporary and modern, but also classic and traditional, depending on the position opted for. Highly recognisable for the target group. Professional. Often a little less distinctive.
The white world
Modern and contemporary store. Clear and bright interior. Sharp contrasts. Colours mainly in product and presentation, in-store graphics and some wall surfaces that determine the image. Currently very popular.
The experience store
This store formula focuses entirely on theme and experience. Recognisable environments in combination with product groups. Often very much focused on the target group. This type of formula seems to be somewhat past its peak now. The design palace Not the product presented, but rather image and design are the focus of these formulas. Distant and inhibiting. Introvert. Luxury materials. Exclusive lighting, product-oriented. Often used by brand stores in the top end segment.
The Pop-up store
Temporary store, often in a remote but eccentric location, for instance on an industrial estate. Not just intended as a sales location, but much rather as a brand statement. Attraction not only by design and product range, but also by the events around the store during its short period of existence. Much talked about and contemporary. Highly focused on target group.
Rule 2 – Combine and integrate
If you are to fit the store design into the formula in the right way, all the communicative and spatial elements need to be applied in a well-balanced manner. Nothing is in isolation. A well-balanced link is created to the other parts of the toolbox: layout graphics, shop front etc.
Rule 3 – Focus on the consumer
When developing all of the aspects within the store design you always need to take into account the consumer’s behaviours and wishes. Here, too, you should distinguish between emotional aspects (how do I reach the consumer?) and functional aspects (does the consumer know how to use it?).
Points requiring attention are: the right amount of lighting, use (or, rather, absence) of bright colours or materials, the height of displays, but also such things as the adjustable shelf for shopping bags at the cash desk. These functional details are the practical aspects of store design developments.
Rule 4 – The product is boss
At the store, everything revolves around generating sales. This means that the store design as developed should never outshine the actual product or the product presentation. Attraction and transaction are the watchwords here. Being easy to reach, accessibility and clarity are the main starting points. The design should be developed in such a way that the consumer can find his way quickly, without having to ask employees.
Rule 5 – Create excitement
A store should be exciting. Visiting a store is like a trip through various exciting countries. And in the same way that a country has various landscapes, the store should also offer change and surprise. High and low walls, clear and bright rooms, panoramas and peepholes, cool and warm environments.
Rule 6 – Dare to be different
Everything is increasingly similar and trends alternate more and more rapidly. Store design is the tool in the toolbox that can really help you to be different. Dare to use it to push back frontiers, get off the beaten track. A store is often designed to be used for a long period, and what seems too modern today, can be 'ordinary' by tomorrow.
Rule 7 – Be clear
Make sure that your concept is clear. The consumer quickly gives up trying to understand a concept that is too complicated. Consumers are often in a hurry and have little time. Therefore, a communicative message should be conveyed quickly and clearly, otherwise the consumer ignores it. The development of the concept should be based on simplicity.
Rule 8 – Use the right lighting
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of store design. It provokes a strong emotion. A store where the colour of the lighting is warm has an ambiance completely different from that found in the same store using cold lighting colours. Use of direct or indirect lighting also has a visible impact on the store. (See also the information about lighting in the frame on page [number].)
You’ll make it with lighting
In brief, the following types of lighting can be used:
> general lighting
> focused lighting
> department lighting
> special lighting
Daylight, of course, creates a natural impression, but the disadvantage is that the light intensity varies with the time of day and cannot be influenced. Many shopping centres and hypermarkets use daylight, but combine it with artificial light.
First, general lighting
The same amount of lighting throughout the store can be achieved by means of symmetrical strip lights or spotlights (high). In this type of environment the light levels are often intense and there is not much stimulation.
Adding directional lighting
When you use directional lighting for products, this influences the atmosphere and creates an emotional environment. Supermarkets often use an asymmetrical strip light for products. Other store types often use spotlights, whether or not combined with general lighting. When products are focused on, the amount of general lighting should be considerably less so that the spotlights
can have the intended effect. The consumer perception sought for can be achieved with the creative use of warm and cold light colours and wide and narrow beams of light.
Creating emotion using department lighting
To complete the ‘shopping experience’ different lighting can be used for each department. This creates ‘environments’ with a different ambiance, each with its own atmosphere. Customers will be pleasantly surprised by this. An additional advantage is that for each product the right source of light, light colour and possibly a filter can be used to display the product in the best possible way. For instance, you can use lights for the vegetable department that enhance the red colour of tomatoes.
Special lighting can be individually designed to form part of the store formula's brand identity. Special lighting also includes lighting for visual merchandising, shop windows, showcases. Frame lighting continued
Exterior lighting etc. A lighting object can be a work of art inside (or outside) the store and will be directly associated with the store concept.
Rule 9 Collaborate
Collaboration with suppliers is very important when developing store design and layout concept. Suppliers often have the latest in racks, display materials etc. But never forget that your own identity comes first!
Rule 10 Draw up investment guidelines.
A fantastic design is great, but it is also an investment that should yield a return. This is the basis of retail design. It means that the budget should be known when the design phase starts. By drawing up guidelines beforehand and integrating them into the design process you will avoid having to make adjustments in the course of the process.