In the Zone...

Recently I redesigned a showroom at the Pacific Market Center (formerly the Seattle Gift Center), and would like to share a few of the design principles involved in a project like this. Whether you have a showroom, a show booth, or a retail store, you can find info here to help you in your layout/design development.
Here are three shots of one area of the showroom, BEFORE:



This display setup was located immediately inside the doors, and to the right. It was 'U' shaped , with a low 'pedestal' on the floor in the center of the @ 8 X 8 area. Very tight space!

Now, if you know anything about 'the science of shopping', you know that shoppers generally enter a store and head to the right. (And if you don't know anything about this science, get thee to Amazon and order 'Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping' by Paco Underhill!) So, you need to take this principle into account when designing a space. Create open space just inside the entrance (known as the 'decompression zone') and then arrange fixtures so that you direct traffic easily to the right. The old arrangement of fixtures in this location actually discouraged shoppers from entering - people avoid closed-in areas, and this section of the showroom was claustrophobic! So my first objective was to address the traffic flow challenges, along with showing off the merchandise and making it easy to access for ordering. (Showrooms are harder than retail shops in that respect, because there is only one of every item - and you can't cross-merchandise. Each line has to remain intact, for ease in ordering.)

I used the principle of Zone Design - dividing the space into functional areas containing products of like purpose/use. By taking an inventory of the lines carried and placing them in categories (Wine, Kitchen/Cooking, Tabletop, and Outdoors/Home Decor), I was able to determine how big each Zone would need to be to hold them all, and then where each Zone would be located. The sketch below outlines how they fit into the showroom footprint:


Once that was decided, I moved on to determine what fixtures worked together (same finishes, similar structure, etc.) and what product would show best on those fixtures. In some cases, manufacturers provide fixtures specific to their products - I left those as they were. Then I went about arranging each Zone. (And I really am not fond of the measuring part.....I was having dreams about fixtures moving themselves around, sort of like 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' brooms....) Here is a preliminary sketch of the floorplan:

I drew up each Zone setup as a floor map, plus some 'front view' elevations so she could see how it would look when standing in front of it. I handed over all of the drawings and outlines and details to the owner, then she and her staff did the actual rearranging of the place. And on tight deadline, too, a week before the show opened! They did a great job! Here are photos of the same products from the first shots - now across the room and on new fixtures:


Big difference, huh?!!! Open and spacious, this areas holds all of the wine-related merchandise she carries. (Which is about five times what you saw in those before shots). Visual impact is better, because you can see everything as you are approaching it. No more stuff down on the floor! Traffic flow is better, as there is more room to move about - very important when you have 40 people in the space at any one time during Market Week. And, everything looks more important and high quality by being in a clean, spacious, open environment. (The unblocked windows add to that, too).

That's Amber, owner of Associates Marketing Group (wholesale only). She's admiring the open space and easy flow of the new design scheme! She is standing in front of the showroom entry, and the barrels & shelves to her right showcase wine accessories & glass, and lead into the area you saw in the 'after' photos above. I was in the showroom on Monday, five days after Market Week began - and she reported that responses from her staff, the product reps, and buyers were very favorable to all the changes we had made. And her sales were BRISK while I was there, to say the very least! Lots of activity at the ordering tables in each Zone, and people were able to view other Zones from those tables, as well.

I love being able to help people maximize their visual impact and space use...especially without spending any money! (sort of the industry version of Aaron Foster's FreeStyle show!) Ummm...correction: Without spending any money on new fixtures, etc. - I still like to be paid!!!! ;o)

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my take on retail visual design:

"The thing is, retail design is driven by psychology. It is by manipulating space, visuals, lighting, sound, smell, and mood that we influence customers to enter, stay, browse, buy, and return. It is an endless exercise in change, endurance, growth, education, and imagination that enables retailers to stay on top of their game and at the forefront of their customer's minds. Yes, what you sell IS important - but even the very best merchandise won't sell at full price if it's presented in torn boxes on dirty shelves in a store that is too crowded to turn around in. Visual impact is a huge part of business, and utilizing the principles that have been proven to work can help you build a better business." ~ DWK