An invisible bridge is what we see between today’s 3D online and offline store layouts. They both are parallel in nature but converge on the same point of gathering consumers. The dedicated approach of mapping consumer’s mindset and behaviour on both ‘brick & mortar’ & online stores. Store layouts are designed by a prior mixed research method where the consumer movements are mapped and the intent of the Shoppe. Store atmospherics plays a vital role as the consumer’s hell-bent starts first from his/her cerebrum and then on the entry point of the store. From that point, the store layout designers navigate them and their movement. Store fixtures (laced with products) are placed accordingly throughout the store. “Not-a-new” technology of ‘heat map analysis’ is used for the same, to navigate consumer shoppability. Other than store layout/store design there six factors which have been derived from empirical shreds of evidence and studies:
1. Store atmospherics: Emerged as one of the most important factors which include window displays, ambient factors, equipment & fixtures, impulse counters, and many more.
2. Customer service: Promptness and employee knowledge are much needed to read consumer behaviour. Interactive suggestion and selling skills are ‘something’ that is not inherited(sometimes).
3. Visual communication: An effective determinant that includes POS & POP’s, Digital signages, and navigating signages and all these are considered as silent sales assistants.
4. Promotions/Value for money: Regardless of demographics, consumer intellect always goes on discounts and promotional schemes. The repeat purchase has also been an influencing factor of ‘value for money’ which can(literally) differ from brand to brand.
5. Problem solving/Policy: Effective factor, when the consumer seeks the solution to their problems(purchase-related). Effective solutions laced with ‘returns & exchanges’ have been proven as ‘solid’ in grievance handling.
6. Reliability: “Purchase Decision” is affected by the reliability factor. Synonymed ‘Brand Equity’ take years with continuous practice of punctuality, merchandising and assortments. Consumers should rely on the brand for its loyalty, which is vice-versa.
Also, many brands are going for experiential store loyalty in order to give a remembrance of their products to their consumers. New-Aged technologies like AR, AI, VR are incorporated in stores designs (particularly in POS and POP’s) to enhance the engagement factor.
In terms of variables, a store layout is dependent on four variables i.e.,
1. Perceived Usefulness: The usefulness of a retail store is yet dependent on the type of products a brand wants to sell. “In” is trendy slang used for the perceived usefulness, as the trend graph scales up and down over a period of time. So, the key to usefulness is ‘evolution’ and the same for survival in the competition.
2. Ease of Use: Easy accessibility is also a variable on which the customer’s purchase decision relies. Everything in a retail store should be ‘handy’.
3. Entertainment: It is covered in the ‘engagement’ factor as if purchasing is equipped with entertainment, it’s a sure shot of sale scale-up. Generally, POS & POP’s are rigged with entertainment equipment. Also, it’s a mindset that a satisfactory experience becomes word-of-mouth to their known ones, which in turn is a kind of publicity.
4. Time: It varies from customer to customer and is measured in footfall. Sales per person can be calculated by measuring time with footfall. Average time spent by a customer is like an estimate for store design enhancement.
In the gradual end, the consumer’s psyche, purchase (behaviour, decision), and usefulness are all dependent on a store layout design. The more interactive is the design, the more footfall it will witness. Many times, store designs are the key reason for brand positioning. A new store can be considered as the visual introduction of a brand in the market.
In today’s time, “If you’re not visible, you’re not in the game”