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Creating in-store consumer connect

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What makes a brand outlet stand out from the rest when all of them are grouped together in a mall or on a high street? Simple answer – displays that have the power to make the shopper stop and take notice.

Beyond just creating a good looking store with aesthetically appealing displays, today’s retail store design looks to communicate a lot about the brand’s activities to its customers. Brands are taking their retail game to the next level with new and improved designs and displays, using them to connect with the consumer and draw them in when new collections are launched, or when sales commence.

A retail store design is a well thought- out strategy to set up a store in a certain way to optimise space and encourage sales. Brands and retailers are frequently updating store designs, display windows and visual merchandising displays.

, Founder and Chairman, explains this new-fangled phenomenon, saying, “Effective merchandise displays creates a great experience for shoppers. Our visual merchandise team uses stories to spark imagination, inspire new styles and trigger emotions. These stories, forming an emotional connection with the customer, can have a long-lasting effect on the in-store shopping journey. To keep the store fresh with new styles, our team changes the displays monthly. Our nesting tables and mannequin clusters are styled with the season’s product line through a theme giving a conceptualised look and feel to the store.”

Siddharth Bindra, Managing Director, Biba adds to this, stating, “We create an overall look of the store and window display keeping in mind the latest collection. We make the display more appealing with props like flowers, lights, etc., based on the upcoming festivals and special days in combination with the apparel designs we plan to display.”

Store Design Aesthetics

“With the rise in competition, aesthetics have become more important today than they ever were. While working on the interior of our store, we make sure that the aesthetics and the atmosphere of the store is user friendly and it does not hinder movement and activities in the store while adapting to the brand image and philosophy. The store design is constructed in a manner which is converted into spacious trend-setting showcase with a carefully thought through image extending from the window to the arrangement of the merchandise inside,” says Sameer Patel.

He further talks about how Deal Jeans’ store concept has been designed on the monochrome theme as the brand identity is played in the colour palette of black, white and shades of grey keeping the store bright and letting the merchandise stand out for the shoppers. For , which is a casual women’s wear brand, store design revolves around femininity. Its interiors follow a neutral colour that gives the space a carefully fashioned minimal yet regal feel, thus ensuring the garments on display to shine through. The different nuances of space are enhanced with varied materials, be it flooring with patterned tile in contrast of a stone texture, or ceiling with partial open metal grid and clean seamless white surface. All furniture, in addition to the clothes racks, is custom designed at the brand’s store.

“Each brand has a very distinctive personality; we are generally inspired by something and do our best to bring it in our store concept,” says , Executive Director, Madame. “We wanted to give the brand the best of the best and create a layering which helps to focus on different types of collections.
Furniture matches each other to the smallest detail; furniture with their different expressions, materials and colours create the framework for the brand. Hence, the store design is truly contemporary and fresh.”

Biba believes in keeping its store design simple yet attractive, eye catchy and easy to explore. The look and feel is maintained across all its stores by keeping the window display captivating, displaying the latest collection and keeping the store navigation easy and smooth. All the exclusive brand stores carries the Biba products under all three categories of SKD (Salwar-Kameez-Dupatta), M&M (Mix & Match) and unstitched fabric. Most of the stores have a dedicated space for the Biba Girls range. Also, the brand recently introduced Biba Jewellery in selected stores.

“Considering the positioning of Biba as premium ethnic wear, we look at inspiration from the rich heritage of Indian textiles and our interpretation of the same at our stores. Store design varies from season to season depending upon the collections from which the inspiration is derived,” Siddharth Bindra explicates.

In-Store Design Strategies

According to Sameer Patel, retailing is no longer merely about selling products, today retailers are becoming one’s lifestyle partners, entities with whom consumers are building relationships.

“Brand philosophy is crucial, it separates us from our competitors. It is a story that we tell the world through our stores with the hope that it will resonate, and consumers will want to associate themselves with our brand. Every time a consumer has interaction with our brand — in store, email, social media or website — it evokes the same experience. This approach helps a shopper in recalling and makes him feel associated with the brand,” he says.

Deal Jeans began its journey 18 years ago selling designer denims. Today the brand offers over 20 exclusive products categories in more than 2,500 styles every year. It opened its first exclusive brand outlet in 2015. Within a span of three years, it has succeeded in opening 24 exclusive outlets across India and internationally.

“Consumers quickly gain an impression of a brand’s DNA when experiencing the retail store environment around them. That experience ultimately becomes a memory, and if the memory is pleasing, the effort needed to activate a shopper and develop brand loyalty becomes a lot easier. An effective store design creates a strong brand identity and can positively influence shopper behaviour.

A store is an extension of the brand and the experiences inside create emotional connections with customers. In-store marketing plays an integral role in connecting a brand and consumer at retail. Well-executed in-store marketing programs boost brand sales because they attract attention and engage the shopper,” Sameer Patel says.

Deal Jeans recently associated with Stylumia – IRIS, a tool that predicts customer attention using neuro-science and artificial intelligence to heat map the consumer attention on products, store design, visual merchandising images and instantly gives the neutral view on these elements.

Meanwhile, Biba with its 255 stores in 106 cities, apart from presence in all the major retail chains in the country like Shopper’s Stop, Lifestyle, Pantaloons and Central, focuses on store designs that allow easy navigation and breezy spacing.

“The store must be able to present its best foot forward and be able to communicate to its customers through its designs, appeal and showcase them the products with ease and comfort,” says Siddharth Bindra.

“Biba as a brand has evolved a lot over the years and has contemporary designs and fusion wear which combines really well with ethnic look. Our stores reflect the product mix extremely well,” he says. “The way a brand presents itself leaves a long-lasting impression in the minds of the consumers. The visual graphics further helps create the desired environment and look of the store, giving an additional recall value to the overall experience. Screens on the façade showcase the new season trends, any specific offer/promo ongoing in the store. There is more ongoing work on this front which will enhance the overall customer experience.”

At Madame, the store design process is very organic. The brand generally starts with a design direction based on research and move forward refining it with addition or multiple elements and feedbacks from the client.

Madame was launched in 1993 by Jain Amar Clothing. However, it set up its first retail store in 2002 in Mumbai. Since then the brand has never looked back and by the year 2006, had opened 50 stores. In 2011 it reached its 100th store in India and set foot in the international market by opening a store in Saudi Arabia (KSA).

“We are living in a digital era and thus surrounded by it. This marks the need of technology in store too. A number of innovative concepts are recording high growth rates. Like it is very important to have a brief of all graphical and brand presentations within the store as it contain summaries from the research phase like target audiences, messaging objectives, values and mission of the brand and the brand’s products/ services offering. The graphical presentation should always form a systematic visual language around the brand,” concludes Akhil Jain.

(With inputs from Gurbir Singh Gulati)