Form Above Function

It is always gratifying to see a retailer take the time, energy and money to re-design their store environment. It is demonstration of a retailer with their heart and intentions in the right place. After all, great design is a truly powerful and increasingly important part of the retail mix. Furthermore, customers rise to retailers lifting expectations time after time.

What is a crime however, is when you see design aesthetic taking precedence over functionality and retail fundamentals. The retail graveyard is littered with examples of well intentioned retailers over-powered by the egos of the “gurus” of design. Please don’t misunderstand me here. There a many very good retail store designers who really know their stuff and can create powerful selling environments. However, there are too many who have a great eye for design, but have never worked in retail beyond creating aesthetic appeal.

The fundamentals of retail have been the same for over 3,000 years.

The store is a stage to sell from. The purpose of the store is to display merchandise and direct a customer’s behavior in a manner that produces profitable sales.

First and foremost it must be functional – for both staff and customers. Secondly, it must check off all the visual hierarchy which is fundamental to how customers visually – primarily (then multi-sensory) – register cues to try, select and buy goods. Thirdly, it must strengthen and reinforce their perception of the brand and create reasons (emotional and rational) to want to come back.

So how many new store fitouts have you seen lately that have covered all three of these basic aspects in a design which is attention getting and delivers sales?