It’s space Jim, but not as we know it

There are plenty of ways to utilise the space inside a work environment. Creating a space that encourages team collaboration is about much more than just the people that inhabit your retail space. After all, you could have the best team in the world, but their powers would be useless if your building’s interior design lets them down.

The science of space is not limited to what’s outside our atmosphere, it applies to what’s in it as well, all the way down to how spaces fit form with function.

In fact, retail interior design is a delicate balancing act. Too much space will prevent customer and sales staff interaction; too little and they’ll feel couped up and under pressure.

So, what do you need to consider to ensure your retail space promotes your brand and creates harmony between your employees and customers? Here are a few points to get you started:

Who do you want to be interacting with customers first?

There’s a remarkable amount of science in the way a retail space is shaped. While every store in every building is unique in its own right, there are a number of universal rules that govern the way retail space should be put together. Business writer Mike Michalowicz covered many of these guiding principles in a piece published in the American Express Open Forum.

One of the major decision retail businesses need to make concerns the location of their checkouts. As the final step in the sales process, it’s essential that these are welcoming environments where customers and employees can interact. It’s also important to acknowledge the way customers move through a store, as Mr Michalowicz notes that most people follow a counter-clockwise path. This means that information desks, checkouts and high-value displays need to be placed accordingly.

Finally, the layout and decor need to match not just a store’s target audience, but the influencers as well. For example, if you are adopting a pricing strategy where you start low and build from there as people journey through the store, then you might like to consider starting with low prices on the left and working towards the right to be more successful.

Add a touch of nature

There’s a difference between a design that is sleek and modern and one that is overwhelmingly sterile. Remember you’re creating an environment where your employees will spend the majority of their waking hours, and where you want your customers to dwell, so it needs to be welcoming.

While the standard option is to introduce pot plants or focus on green design options, the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) believes it has found another way to create a more liveable open office environment.

The key is not just on the visual, but in other installations that offer treats to the rest of our senses as well; Sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Utilising ideas such as decadent chocolates in a high end store and scent technology that connect on a more subconscious level, but are unique enough to take you back to the brand when you do experience them again.

Keep regulations in mind

Of course, above all the design flair and branding options, there are also government guidelines to keep in mind when shaping your new space.

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has prepared a set of criteria to keep in mind to create a positive working environment for all staff. Thankfully, they aren’t restrictive, and actually encourage a broader mind set for how the modern work space should be shaped.

One of the key points is mobility. According to the MSD, employees are no longer constrained by traditional desks, and instead want a range of work options so they don’t feel restricted.
Excess space could be taken up by standing desks or breakout areas, so people choose the space that suits them.

This especially applies when dealing with customers in a retail sales situation. Providing opportunities where your sales team can interact with customers without being isolated behind a counter encourages interaction and the ability to connect. This way the selling environment is also more relaxing for the customer. When we relax we are more open to stay a while. Research says that customers that dwell longer are much more likely to buy.

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