The exterior design of any retail store must protect the interior from the outside elements (heat, dust, humidity, light etc.). Just asÂ important, it also serves to convey information to potential customers. TheÂ exterior is first part of the store that potential customers see. They will determineÂ from the outside whether or not they wish to enter and shop. It is critical that theÂ outside of the store gain the attention of customers and entice them to enter. If theÂ outside does not reflect an image appropriate to customers, they will not enter into the store.
The important exterior design considerationsÂ for the retail storeÂ design are:
1. New Building versus Existing Facility
The decision to build a new facility or seek existing space is a criticalÂ element in exterior design planning. Each option has its advantages. BuildingÂ allows the retailer to design all aspects of the exterior and interior. However, thisÂ option may be limited by location availability, time, or cost. Buying, renting, orÂ leasing existing space has the advantage of being much quicker, may offer theÂ advantage of a superior location and may be less expensive. However, a retailer isÂ often limited in what can be done with regard to design issues. It is often the caseÂ where major renovations of existing space are as expensive as building from theÂ ground up.
Recognizing the importance of the exterior, retailers have become veryÂ competitive in their designs. Unfortunately, this has often led to many areasÂ looking like a war zone of competing colors, signs, shapes, and sounds. BothÂ property owners and governments alike have taken steps to ensure that consumersÂ are not assaulted by on overwhelming amount of stimuli.
- Lease requirements. Many property owners require retailers that leaseÂ their space to adhere to certain rules regarding store design. These rulesÂ serve two purposes. First, they assure the owner that property will beÂ maintained good condition; and second, they ensure that the surroundingÂ property does not lose value. For example, most malls require that signsÂ be certain sizes and often limit the use of intense light.
- Building codes. Most cities have building codes for businesses; oftenÂ many are directed at retailers. These serve several purposes. First, theyÂ protect the public. Fire codes and safety regulations are examples. SomeÂ codes include sign ordinances that try to create some kind of visualÂ harmony. Second, they ensure equal access to shopping for those withÂ disabilities; and third, they reflect the community’s attitude with regard toÂ appearance. For example, many town recognize the need of retailers toÂ promote their business through the use of signs. However, for aestheticÂ purposes, they have limited or abolished signs in particular areas.
- Theme areas. Theme areas are those in which buildings must meetÂ structural requirements that fit a certain theme. Many downtown areas areÂ implementing very strict building codes that allow businesses to stay onlyÂ if they fit with the atmosphere the area is trying to create.
3.Â ColorÂ and Materials
The exteriorÂ colorÂ texture of a store give a lasting first impression to theÂ consumer. Often, this will be the first and sometimes the only thing a customerÂ sees of a store. It is important that the exterior look and “Feel” right to theÂ shopper. TheÂ colorsÂ and material should express the image of the store.Â Today’s retailers are increasingly using textured building materialsÂ (brick, rough-sawn wood, and so on) at the store entrance to give a pleasantÂ feeling to theÂ facade.Â Steel buildings tend to create an impression of strength,Â whereas glass tends to create an altogether different impression, usually of aÂ more modern store. Concrete or bock can contribute to the overall image of lowÂ cost or value. Brick may create a more upscale feeling.
Effective use of signs identifies the nature of the business, build aÂ corporate identity, communicates an image, ties the company to its advertisingÂ through the use of a logo, and attracts to the store.Â The most common signage is in plastic based materials despite theÂ relatively high cost. Companies find that effective signs have individual lettersÂ that are coated in tough plastics and illuminated from within by neon tubes. ThisÂ type of sign has advantages because it uses 15 to 20 percent less energy thanÂ other lighted signs and has an extremely long life. Stores desiring a veryÂ contemporary look may use exposed tubes; small strip shopping centers may useÂ hand crafted wooden signs to maintain a low profile. Backlight signs offer aÂ slightly more expensive possibility. Instead of the light splashing out of the frontÂ of the letter, it washes the wall with a silhouette. Mall tenants may be limited inÂ the type and size of their sign management rules. Signs from materials such asÂ wood or metal that have direct lighting can be used to create different imagesÂ from luxury to country. However, plastic technology today allows the creation ofÂ nearby and look.
- Exterior walls and signs.Â Many retailers use the exterior wall space to promote their store. PaintingÂ the name and logo of a business on the exterior is often less expensive thanÂ having a custom-made sign. Examples of this vary from a simple, elegant scriptÂ indicating the name of the store to more exotic art that includes not only the nameÂ but also pictures. It artwork is used on the exterior of the building, it mustÂ conform to the principles of design, appeal to the customer base, and beÂ integrated with the rest of the architecture.
The main purpose of windows is to attract attention and create an image toÂ potential customers standing outside. Humor, theatrical flair, color, motion, orÂ sound playing outside the windows work well to increase the effectiveness of theÂ display. One of the biggest advantages of display windows is the ability toÂ dramatically affect the exterior of the store. Most of the exterior requires majorÂ renovations to change. A retailer can take advantage of its window space toÂ reflect changes in the store’s offerings on a seasonal or monthly basis.Â The window displays project the image of the store. While one story mayÂ be trying to say “Quality” in its windows by showing specific brands or fashions,Â other stores may use window displays to project a low price or value image.Â Regardless of whether it is a children’s store, a sporting goods store, or a homeÂ furnishings store, the window display is often one of the first efforts toÂ communicate with customers and invite them.Â Window design is a function of the physical design of the store, and notÂ something specifically requested by the retail manager or merchandisingÂ designer. The open back, as opposed to the closed back, is a window throughÂ which the interior of the store itself becomes the display case. When open-backÂ windows are used, the store does not have valuable selling space tied up inÂ windows, management need not concern itself with planning window displays,Â and the problems of keeping windows clean and timely are usually avoided.Â However, the open-back window can cause unexpected display problems andÂ exaggerate old ones. For example, the most significant concerns are reflection,Â sun glare, sun control, artificial lighting for both day and night, and the necessityÂ for a general organisation of merchandise within a completely exposed store.
- Awnings.Â The use of awnings is a subset of the window and exterior design issueÂ and often poses a particular problem for retailers. Most awnings are made ofÂ fabric and are of the old scissors or outrigger style. In recent years, fabric awningsÂ that can be fastened into a recessed box at the end of the building have beenÂ developed. Other ways of awnings are structural part of the building.Â Awnings come in many assorted sizes, colours, and styles. Merchants canÂ take advantage of an awning to attract attention by using it as promotional space.Â Many companies now sell custom awnings that are designed to fit with the store’sÂ image.
6. The Store Entrance
One of the first and most striking impressions customers get of a store isÂ the one they receive as they go through the front door. An entrance should beÂ more than a device to keep people out of the store, to encourage them to come in,Â or to protect against the elements. An entrance should have character, and itÂ should say to prospective customer, “Please come through the door where you willÂ be treated with courtesy and friendliness and served to the best of our ability.”Â The entrance might be graceful and elegant or dull and functional; in any case, itÂ should be compatible with the store design and provide an easy way to enter.
7. Store Name
Although not strictly related to external design, the choice of a storeÂ name does have an effect on the overall store image. TheÂ favorableÂ orÂ unfavorableÂ image generated by the use of a name can enhance or negate theÂ style set by store design.
At first glance, choosing a name for the business may seem to be a ratherÂ easy task. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The retailer who thought of theÂ name Equ-ulus for a small gift shop certainly made a mistake. This name is notÂ pronounceable, and it has little meaning for the majority of the customers toÂ whom the store is appealing. Often it is desirable that the name sound not onlyÂ attractive but prestigious. Certainly it must fit the type of store. For example,Â Budget Weddings was chosen as the name of store that provided package servicesÂ for brides. It failed because brides-to-be did not like the mental picture of a truckÂ with that store name pulling up to the church and the reception hall. They likedÂ the low price but were embarrassed by the name.
8. Theft Prevention
Another area of concern with exterior design is employee and customerÂ theft. The design must consider the flow of people in and out of the store and howÂ they may be observed or pass through technology-based theft prevention. ExteriorÂ doors and docks for receiving goods or trash disposal should also be designed andÂ arranged to minimize opportunities for unauthorized entrance and exit.
9. Multilevel Stores
Because of the need for increased parking space in relation to shoppingÂ area in suburban stores and shopping centers, the multiple-level store is especiallyÂ appealing to retailers. Even super markets have experimented with this type ofÂ design. Properly carried out, a multilevel facility offers the merchant a means ofÂ both expanding the selling area separating areas from one another. It also gives anÂ overall feeling is that of “pulling people” though the store. Careful attention hasÂ to be paid to which merchandise is in high demand so that it can be placed on theÂ upper levels. In the process of seeking it out customers will move through theÂ store. Putting a restaurant on the top level, for example, helps this pulling process.
Credit: Retail Management-AU