Where is the power?

wowThe most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker

I am, as you know, an advocate for the structural changes in retail and we advise our clients accordingly in the building of business fitness. Through this process we believe fervently in the central role of the physical shop as the jewel in the crown.

This belief is substantiated by our own RDG Insights results which show that the vast majority of consumers want to do business in the shops, offering that tactile, physical experience, however, we customers want the shop to be dialled up in the experience of retailing.

Discovery, journeys, scent, and sight in a phrase best captured as experiential retailing.  After visiting a series of retailers this week, I started to wonder if this message was being consistently embraced and our physical retail shops where actually dialling up and building more experiential powerful retail?

Naturally enough, there are vast differences in the standard of the retail offer that confronts the many millions of retail customers nationally. I thought it worthwhile to make a few comments to the key retail design principles that really impact on the customers mind and in turn lead to higher sales and profits for the retailer. (A back to basics on some store design and layout principles, if you will.)

I am reminded of a wonderful retailer who once said to me, whatever you do in retail, you have to have power and own the space in your shop displays.

There are many examples of power in a retail store where all the elements of innovative design, format, statement, power merchandising, and clear and compelling messaging combine with a unique and consistently delivered sales and service impact.

These businesses have the wow factor and no one element alone does this, rather the symmetry achieved when it all comes together. The journey from the initial high visual impact and the effortless movement, through the shop to the moment of truth with the product and staff. These businesses all deliver power and underpin this authority with some retail design principles that remain consistently relevant and timeless.

These principles include:

External signage

External signage and your shopfront is the face of your business and should attract customers in different ways at different distances.

At 50m the main signage should be a brand beacon, creating a large impact recognisable statement. At 20m the shopfront should have a secondary brand statement and reinforce one key offer or buy-line. As the customer approaches five to 10m there needs to be a direct call to action – this should be reduced to three to five key sales messages or offers. There should also be key invitation or attraction devices to pull customers into the threshold of the store.

Store layout

The store layout, and for that matter, the basic principles of retailing are about getting your customer to interact with the stock in the most effective way and then make a purchase.

If your customer can not get within 1m of the stock on their natural path, the stock will not sell. Ensure your store traffic flow is maximised for profitability.

Internal category management

Understanding the decision factors when a consumer buys a product is a vital element with category management.

Once the buying criteria of a customer is understood, the internal category management can be designed to reflect the customer’s natural selection process. This simplifies the product selection process, increases customer satisfaction, decreases purchase time and solidifies the retailer as a product leader in the customer’s mind.

Internal ambience

Lighting levels, the use of internal colours, and graphics create the personality of your store environment.

Designing this personality to create an alliance with your brand is vital to the success of any retail business. Once the personality has been devised, the tone of voice that the environment, graphics, and messaging talks to the consumer can also be developed. The overall effect is a store that can link directly to the overall marketing strategies of a business to create a strong uniform message to the customer.

What are your thoughts? I am interested in your views.

Happy Fit retailing

The Retail Doctor

Brian Walker is founder and CEO of retail consulting company, Retail Doctor Group. He specialises in the development and implementation of retail and franchise strategies. Brian can be contacted on (02) 9460 2882 or brian@retaildoctor.com.au.



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