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Decode design series excerpts: A Report by PPZ

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Retail Experience – This term is one of constant evolution. Within a few years the Indian shopping center business has flourished into an industry of its own. This has been possible due to the ever evolving consumers in India.  The well travelled, well informed Indians have evolved so much so that, an air-conditioned store is just not an incentive to shop from a retailer. They know their brands, have their preferences and a lot goes into the way they choose the same. That being the case, brands have been forced to evolve too. Change like they say, is always a good thing. Swanky malls, tough competition and the need to stand out amongst hundreds of stores to be the one the consumer prefers, means that, a lot of science needs to be put in the right front. Delightful visual experience combined with scientific store design wherein there is no room for wastage of space with optimal back office operations is what is called for – after all retail is an expensive affair.

At PPZ, (India’s mall management expert),  we have understood this well and have decided to make things easier for developers across India. As we partner with every retailer in India in one or the other way, we thought this first research initiative was a great way of value addition to our partners. We are extremely happy with the way it has been received and hope to come up with many such initiatives in future. Thus was the genesis of the DECODE SERIES . It truly aims to decode the requirements and mindset of the retailers as they go about designing their dream store. 148 retail partners over the length and breadth of India were interviewed in a span of 4 months, resulting in the outcome of this research initiative. The Decode series is here to stay and we are very excited to share few insights from our pilot research –‘Retail Design’.

Mythology and India go hand in hand. Success of one’s business largely depends on their beliefs. Hence, it came as no surprise, that 65per cent of Indian retailers preferred their store locations & designs to be Vaastu compliant. International architects- do keep this in mind when you design your next mall in India.

Innovation and flexibility hold prime importance, hence it is no surprise that 90per cent of our retailers prefer a flexible store design and 65per cent say yes to innovation in their stores.

Today a lot of thought has been given to things like your logo, your display and store windows too. It’s important that your store looks fresh every time your consumer walks past your store. 47per cent of our retail partners will like to change their store window displays every fortnight. This actually is good insight and makes a lot of sense. The average mall shopper visits a mall to shop around twice a month and may be visits the mall 3-4 times a month for socialising. Two store display changes in a month will no doubt invigorate his behavior and propensity to shop.

The name v/s logo conundrum is an age old one. Indian brands are still in their early stage of brand adoption. So, while Shakespeare did say so famously – What’s in a name? The Indian retailers don’t take prose too seriously. 66per cent of our retail partners prefer their names to be larger than their brand logo.

In store experience comprises of so many things – Air condition, courteous staff and some soothing music. There’s nothing like music for the soul and who knows it better than the sultans of retail – 78per cent percent of retailers said that Music Therapy was an essential need to beef up sales. Also, they have a fair idea of how the consumer shops. The Indian consumer prefers side to side navigation and therefore close to 50per cent prefer shallow stores on the ratio 1:3 or 1:4

Stores in India have for long been associated with shutters and glass doors… No longer. 73per cent of our respondents prefer open shop fronts, and product continues to be the distinguishing factor for our retailers as 62per cent prefer to have displays right upfront covering 50per cent of their Display
So, while the points above convey what retailers think will attract their shoppers, there was a whole lot of insight in how they prefer to operate their stores to ensure profitability too.  So for instance, security & pilferage continues to be a concern amongst our retailers as an overwhelming 89per cent preferred to have CCTV surveillance in their stores

While shoppers are important, so are their staffs – 43per cent said that they required staff storage for upto 10 sq. meters
Design and fit out quality matters a lot for the consumers, hence over 40per cent of our retailers said that they needed 130 days or more as end-to-end fit out periods

Clearly retail in India has evolved a lot. And a lot of what our retailers look for in their stores is based on some solid insight of what their consumers want as well as a lot of common sense. The drive to outdo each other in quality, style and delivery seems apparent and this augurs well for retail in India. PPZ on its part stays to be committed to delivering insights to the developer community and will soon be launching its second initiative of the decode series.

About the author:  Sonal  Shrivastava, Head – Design Development, PPZ