Store Design Tips for Canadian Retailers

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Developing a successful retail space can be a daunting task, particularly in today’s tough, e-commerce driven market. While a store can be attractive and aesthetically appealing, it’s all for naught if your customers aren’t driven to buy.  
The team at Cutler, a Vancouver commercial interior design firm, are experts when it comes to sellable spaces. They’ve helped brands like Samsung, The Body Shop and Clearly Contacts create inspired storefronts and interiors that drive sales. Cutler principal Natalie Cutler shares her insider secrets for a space that sells:

1. Customer Experience: Customer experience is key to creating that “I want everything” feeling, and it begins at the door.  Does your storefront entice?  Exciting displays like a mini pop-up shop at the entry or an amazing window display help to draw traffic. Inside, the layout of a space is crucial to the way customers experience a shop and its products. Circulating consumers through the space by using creative lighting, floor and wall fixtures ensures that they will stick around, view more items for sale, and if all goes according to plan, make a purchase.

2. Wayfinding: Wayfinding an industry term used to describe orientation and selecting a path within a built environment. The best way to achieve successful customer wayfinding is with creative and graphic signage that calls out different product offerings within an area of the store.  For most projects, Cutler uses all surfaces of a space – floor, walls and ceiling – in order to maximize potential for the route of most sales.


3. Merchandising: It may seem obvious, but the importance of strong merchandising cannot be emphasized enough. Design “zones” that display product in mass quantity to give graphic appeal. For example, display an entire wall of cellphone cases rather than dispersing them throughout the store.  Also, create fixtures that allow you to group the latest essential products. Cutler will often design custom wall and floor fixtures to differentiate clients from competitors, and custom props to fit the fixtures and enhance the merchandise.

4. Transaction: Closing is critical in retail. Grab buyers’ attention at the cash desk with miniature displays and easy add-ons.  This is a merchandising opportunity to incorporate impulse buys or to educate customers on the brand.  Who hasn’t grabbed a few extra items on the way through the Sephora lineup?

5. Accessorize: Use furniture, accessories and artwork throughout the space to support your brand in a non-literal way.  A furniture vignette creates a hangout within the store, while a curated grouping of accessories enhances a product collection.  Don’t forget to change this up on at least a quarterly basis to keep your regular customers engaged and excited.

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Publisher & CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Advisor at the University of Alberta School Centre for Cities and Communities in Edmonton, former lawyer and a public speaker. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.

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