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The nuances of innovative retail interiors

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With e-commerce picking up, retailers are now walking the tight rope, as they try hard to create a more sub conscious experience for a consumer who walks into a store. , Director and Creative Head at talks to India Retailing Bureau on the nuances of innovative approach in retail interiors.

Innovations

Retailers in India are getting more innovative in order to engage customers at a store. According to Juhi Santani, Director and Creative Head at Retale Solutions, even outdoor kiosks are wearing a different look and revamping on their logo designs and furniture too. She pointed out that it is in fact the non usable space within a store that really creates a difference or impacts a consumer. “Consumers do look at little tid bits of information on the wall, the kind of frames used. So it is really the non productive area that gets a customer’s attention,” she pointed out.

Retale Solutions went even a step further to redesign a brand’s identity to cater to the right customer and maybe also tweak its brand colours to a more trendy one.

Brands like that offer a limited space of 150 – 200 square feet area for kitchen and counter, went through a complete make over after Retale Solutions took charge of its design aspects. Changing consumer behaviour, required a drastic change in the brand’s logo design, seating area, including the packaging for take aways. Santani and her team go a step further by designing tid bit quotes or product info for her clients that are framed into non productive areas of the space. Santani had walls recovered with campaign pics and quotes near the brand’s trial rooms, which are often neglected.

Technology

“We have done designs with people where they have high end technology inside their stores,”said Santani, “Nowadays technology is used in the store mostly to track the consumer behaviour. Traditional retailers have not really leveraged on technology much. Technology also costs a lot of money.”

Santani found that today’s customers are still a bit apprehensive when it comes to dealing with technology in retail stores, while it does get a customer’s attention for a limited period of time. Technology ideas are transient and then wear off. Retailers are under a lot of pressure to create a seamless experience even though customers already know what a product looks like. The formats also need to extend to departmental stores and so on.

According to Santani, “Three to four years down the line, the land scape is shifting so quickly that you would rather be functional in a nice way and not a tacky way and also be able to switch tracks aesthetically and have more change in look and feel. Retailers would like their stores to be more refreshed looking every 2- 3 years.”

Lighting

On the move to save more power in a cost effective way, retailers are shifting to LED systems. “A lot of LED features are made locally. Now you do find surface mounts for LEDs which was not available earlier. Nowadays you also find something to cater to your budget. Stores are the largest consumers of electricity anywhere,”said Santani.

Critical Areas

A customer would access at least 80 per cent of the store area which makes these areas critical. Even though stores may be sparsely or densely displayed with products, left over spaces make the most difference in stores. Stores can also look high end or low end which drives in the right customer. Window displays, trial rooms and lounge areas are often neglected in large format stores. Retailers do not realise that these are critical areas of the store where a customer actually spends more time. Santani pointed out that even the way the mirrors are placed in the trial room, the number of lights and the way the hooks are placed makes a big difference. She explained,”The seating area for the customer’s friends is also critical at times. I have noticed in larger stores that have 3 – 4 trial rooms tend to get neglected.”

Movable

Though, not many stores really move their fixtures around and walls and units do not really shift drastically, most stores, depending on the buying patterns, are looking at moving the shelving on the floor. Once a store has been designed, retailers stick to a particular look for at least 2 years and so are the categories in the store, which are not moved around.

Most product display systems are movable with fitted castors. Retailers are moving towards simplistic designs. Added Santani, “The number of mannequins are definitely coming down. Earlier it was 800 square feet store with 10 mannequins, even though mannequins do have their own charm.”