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Expert advice for retailers: How to make your store stand out

By FashionUnited



In recent years, three special store concepts have opened: Fabienne Chapot, Ace & Tate and Fest. One store can be flexibly arranged with movable walls, the other has a mini-cinema where furniture can be tried out. All three stores are completely different, but they have one thing in common: they were designed by retail designer Pepijn Smit from the SPACE Projects agency. Smit dives into the design process for FashionUnited and shares tips for retailers who want to give their store a (small) makeover.

It has been increasingly said that a store should be a destination, an experience and not just a point of transaction. But, how do you turn a store into an inspiring place without repeating 'the neighbour's trick'? Smit has various recommendations for this, but first of all states that a brand must have a very clear style and purpose for their store: “Look carefully at what you want to communicate. What is your 'happy thought' and why did you start your store (and brand). Can you also share that love for the product or that vision and transfer it to the visitor?” In doing so, a retailer must look at the position of the store in relation to other brands, but also other stores in the street.

Text continues after the images.

Image: Fest

Pepijn Smit gives interior design tips for retailers

Smit takes the example of Fabienne Chapot's shop that he designed. At the time, the brand used the motto 'boldly feminine'. This became the starting point of the design, but how do you make a retail space ‘distinctly feminine’? This can of course be done by means of a colour on the wall, but also by using feminine, round shapes. For example, take a look at the special shop window or the checkout block in the store. There are many rounded shapes throughout the concept, giving the whole a soft appearance. The exterior of the shop in Haarlem cannot be ignored either, as it has been given a pink colour. The 'ring for champagne' button in the fitting rooms also gives the concept a feminine touch.

Those little touches are also suitable for retailers with a small budget. “Projects with a small budget are no less fun, they require a creative approach." Smit indicates that you can already achieve a great effect with a few stand-out pieces: “By adding a special doorknob, the whole door suddenly becomes special. A much-used trick is to keep it simple, but to communicate through details.” Smit indicates that 'doing a little bit' often does not work: “Then you see: 'He wants to, but it doesn't work'. It is better to invest in a few good pieces in your business and keep the rest simple.”

Another logical step is to use a coat of paint. “That is the fastest transformation and can make a big difference. It really depends on what you do with it,” warned Smit. Consider, for example, experimenting with areas of colour or graphic patterns, instead of simply painting a wall. “A small budget is no less interesting, you just have to put together a different kind of puzzle,” said Smit.

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Image: Fabienne Chapot

The corona crisis offers opportunities in the field of shop interiors

There are also additional opportunities due to the corona crisis. That sounds strange at first, because there are fewer people going to stores and customers have to queue? But that is precisely what offers room for creativity, said Smit. A queue in front of the store makes you curious. "What are those people waiting for and maybe I should be in there too?" is of course the first reaction. Just think of the collection drops from Supreme where gigantic queues appeared for stores worldwide. This quickly attracts the attention of passers-by. In addition, a shopkeeper can also make good use of the time that a guest stands in line to create an even better bond with the visitor. “For example, placing QR codes on the shop window can bring the visitor to your website and thus gets to know the brand even better.

“When the guest is finally allowed to enter the store, the dream of every retail designer actually comes true,” said Smit. “You always come up with a routing, but normally the customer goes in all directions. Now you can guide them through the store exactly as you want and give them the customer journey you had in mind.” Smit joked, but it can certainly help retailers to think carefully about the path that the visitor takes in the store.

In short: there are still plenty of opportunities for shop interiors, with or without the corona crisis. “The basis remains: What do you want to communicate with your store and your brand? Of course you want to sell products, but that is possible both online and in your store. The store must therefore offer added value. It doesn't have to be the whole world, but it is nice if you have something that inspires or stimulates you,” Smit concluded.

Image: Ace & Tate / Wouter van de Sar

Main picture: Fest

This article was previously published on FashionUnited.nl. Translation and editing: Andrea Byrne

Fabienne Chapot
Pepijn Smit