Setting up a shop in these uncertain times takes nerves of steel. Many years ago independent retailers sprang up all over the place and had healthy budgets to invest in their interiors. It’s not so easy now but good independent shops are still surviving and some are ever thriving. The death of the high street may have been greatly exaggerated. If you have the plan then you should definitely give it a go. Create an inviting interior and the people will come, have exciting, good value products and they will buy.
It goes without saying that the window display is the first impression to a passerby. It needs to be immediately striking and leave the customer wanting to know more. Easier said than done, but, at a practical level the window display provides interest in terms of structure, shapes, colours and textures. Remember that people can be cautious about crossing the threshold if they are unsure of what they are going to find. If you are a clothes shop that cater for men and women, make sure examples of both are in the window. If you are a speciality cheese shop who also have a line in vintage wines, make sure a bottle is visible. Of course you want to retain an element of mystery but don’t rely on people taking a punt. When you’re fitting out your shop, think carefully about the exterior aspect. You may want to break up a large expanse of glass by building display booths or you may want more flexible units so you can have an ever-changing look. In a busy city street you need to permanently compete for interest, in a market town a beautiful seasonal display may suffice.
Choosing a style to compliment your products
You may have good idea of how your shop should look but keep referring back to the products you sell and the people that buy those products – they are the priority. Think about how the items are going to be displayed and choose fittings based on that. Unfortunately some business owners get carried away with the look of the furniture and forget that the purpose is to display the product. If you sell homemade cosmetics you may choose a rustic, natural look to your shop. If you sell antiques an ultra modern interior is a brave choice! Independent retailers tend to be passionate about their products but make sure that passion extends to the shop itself.
Creating a pleasurable experience for the customer
I was recently browsing fabric shops online. I wanted to visit a few for some inspiration rather than searching for a particular product. The reviews for one shop veered wildly between 1 and 5 star reviews. On closer reading all agreed the range and the quality on offer was fantastic and the one star reviews were solely down to the cramped, claustrophobic setting. However brilliant your products, you will lose custom if the browsing experience is unpleasant and in an age of online reviews you can’t afford criticism.
Less is generally more. You will notice most high end boutiques offer a limited line beautifully displayed. On the other hand the packed-in chaotic nature of shops like TK Maxx put a lot of people off, although they’re not short of customers. What type of customers are you looking for? Do they like rummaging for a bargain or are they looking for a relaxing saunter around the shops? Look at shops comparable to yours and learn from their insight and experience.
Keep it classic
Of course this comes with disclaimers but the majority of independent retailers can’t afford a quarterly make-over. You may want to compete with the big brands but they have economics of scale that you can’t hope to keep up with. Your displays need to have a timeless appeal that can be updated with simple seasonal additions. We’d always recommend getting in a professional interior designer (you can contact us here!) because it can be tricky to commit to a style that may have to last 5 or even 10 years. Before painting your shop purple perhaps consider some wallhangings that can change with the seasons. A relatively neutral palette creates an inviting interior and can be transformed into a tropical paradise with a strategic focal point and won’t result in the upheaval of a full refurb.