IN THE FIRST PART OF OUR TWO-PART SERIES, WE DISCUSS THE TOPIC OF DESIGNING AND OUTFITTING YOUR STORE, EVEN ON A LIMITED BUDGET.
You’ve spent a lot of time getting your retail business up and running. And you’ve also spent a fair bit of capital to prepare and advance your business plan.
Whether this is your first, or tenth store, you’re establishing and growing your retail presence. No matter the store number, you’ve got this and you’re ready to build your business.
Part of building that business also means you need to have a clear picture of the additional start-up costs for the physical location itself – the planning of the interior space and how it’s going to look, function, and effectively engage your customers.
Getting it right today, and at this location, means you can drastically improve your chances for future growth and success. We add this side note because at CBSF we are strategic thinkers and always consider the broader context when planning – we think in terms of long-term growth, helping clients gear up for potential expansion into other communities and markets before they’ve even opened their next location.
WORKING WITH CLIENTS TODAY MEANS HELPING THEM VISUALIZE AND PLAN FOR TOMORROW.
Before we get you excited about the future, it’s important to determine what you can do now and within the confines of your current location(s) and budget. Consider:
- How much you’ll need to spend to open your doors for business?
- What can you do with your budget?
- If you’re considering both, where can you incorporate custom fixtures and where can standard fixtures be utilized?
- If your plans are out of budget, what can you adjust to bring them closer in line?
DESIGN, INSTALLATION, AND MERCHANDISE: HOW MUCH WILL IT COST TO BUILD OUT YOUR STORE?
As soon as you secure a space, don’t expect it to be ready for customers. In fact, be prepared to think long and hard about your plan because once you start to make improvements, there’s no turning back without a hefty cost.
To help you understand the importance of a store’s layout, here’s a recent FitSmallBusiness article that provides some guidance on how to visualize your space.
DESIGN, ENGINEER, PROTOTYPE – BRINING IDEAS TO LIFE.
When it comes to design, we take on projects that may be as small as the design, prototyping, and production of a single fixture that easily complements an existing store, or whole departments within a fully-functioning store, to creating an entirely new retail space.
- When building a single element, we rely on the current branding and store design to source colours and finishes — we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
- When creating an entirely new space, the process begins with a consultative stage where we focus on discovering your brand’s essence and personality, understanding the people behind your brand and their passion for the business, and helping you define your brand’s purpose through design — how it impacts customers (the emotional component of the brand and the feelings it emotes).
So when jumping into the discovery phase, we like to get a sense of what inspires you (inspirational photos, visuals, colours, etc.). This part of the process helps us focus on an overall style and clients really appreciate the clarity it brings.
WHEN IT COMES TO BUILDING OUT A STORE, THE MAIN PHASES INCLUDE:
- Strategy and design;
- Manufacturing and sourcing; and,
- Installation and merchandising.
Consulting with you beforehand to understand your needs is a must. Once that’s done, we’ll present you with a contract for services, which determines when on the build plan you will need us.
HOW MUCH WILL DESIGN COST?
Based on our experience, look to allocate 10% to 15% of your overall budget to design (for an overall budget of $50K, $5K to 8K, will go towards recommendations for a fixture type – typically a commodity fixture – and doing space planning to lay things out).
For higher overall budgets, more dollars can be allocated to design, so more time can be spent on designing fixtures, focusing on the environment like finishes on walls and floors, and signage considerations to create a strong, cohesive look.
What about the architects and permit-ready drawings?
Typically we will determine the condition of the space and scope of construction and permits at the time of the initial consultations, as we can offer our services to cover the entire project (local projects and those within Ontario). Due to code differences and municipal approvals based on relationships with local planning offices, we recommend out-of-province clients source their own architects and engineers within those local communities. Of course, we can help facilitate the permits process, but a cost would need to be associated with this.
THE KICK-OFF – AND GETTING THE BALL ROLLING.
Now we get into the fun stuff. This is where all of our collaborative thinking and strategizing come to life.
In most cases — and not every client and project will be the same — this is how the process will evolve:
- Design consultation: we understand your needs, the space, scope of work, budget, etc. — typically and ideally done with on-site visits.
- The design contract is signed: our collaborative vision is put on paper.
- Measurements are taken: this can take up to 2 days to compile, and we’re very meticulous with this step.
- Site visits: this is an in-depth analysis of your needs, desired styles, and expectations — it’s also about outcomes versus tactics where we determine if a flexible display space is needed to show merchandise of various sizes without it looking empty or overly tactical and if shelves can be removable to accommodate for various sizes and seasons.
At CBSF, we pride ourselves on our ability to determine what’s working and what’s not working with your current locations. “What would you do differently?” is a great question to ask, so we can glean insights on style, design, and expectations on the functionality of space. We will:
- Pull inspiration from any type of source;
- Prepare 2 to 3 early concepts with a 2D layout of the space – this helps us determine how much we can actually fit into your space;
- Review and refine concepts;
- Produce 3D renderings of the space based on your preference of a concept and blended design (we call this “blended” because we take all the things you like from the various concepts and mesh them into one design); and
- After a few refinements, a final design package will be delivered complete with 3D views, a 2D plan, renderings of fixtures, and a graphics package.
In our design analysis, we also consider accessibility requirements and advise you to ensure they meet current requirements (this is where an architect can also provide another set of eyes for permit purposes so all codes are met).
All solid, well-thought-out designs include every facet of what’s expected from the store including:
- Specifications for displays and fixtures – custom and standard;
- Floor plans and wayfinding – understanding every step of the way including exits and entrances;
- The impact of lighting – what kind, how much, where to place; and
- Colours and materials – millwork, metal, plastics.
Designing the right retail environment that’s as practical as it is impressive means we need to get to know your business.
To understand more about our design process, you can learn more here.
SO, WHAT’S NEXT?
What else will you need to consider? How long will all of this work actually take? Fear not, we’ll take a closer look at many of the next steps you need to tackle in our second part of this topic. Keep an eye out for “Part” 2″ coming soon.
CBSF is a team of design and production experts creating retail environments that enhance spaces, engage customers, and generate opportunities for a retailer’s growth. If you are ready to see what your retail brand can do with the right fixtures, then give us a shout.