Renovating or rebuilding a retail store location is a great way to spark new interest in your old place. Maybe your company has undergone a rebranding and you want your new in-store experience to reflect it. Or maybe you’re scaring away a younger demographic because your current store is showing its age. Whatever the case, rebuilding your retail store can have a positive impact if you can do so while keeping your finances in check.
Retail renovations aren’t cheap and often require a hefty upfront investment. There’s also the chance that all your hard work, time, resources, and design visions may fail to impress your customers in the way you hope for.
Let’s look at some practical tips you can prioritise to inform your retail rebuild or renovation project.
Understand your purpose for rebuilding
There are a lot of times where it makes sense to renovate or rebuild. But knowing your specific motivations for starting the project can help to inform your budget and design.
Think about what you’re wanting the project to bring to your store. Do you want to:
- Reap the benefits of the publicity that comes with renovating?
- Attract a new client base?
- Provide a friendlier layout or improved in-store experience?
- Bring in new product lines?
- Increase your square footage?
Maybe you want to do more than one of the above, and that’s fine, too! The goal is to be as specific as possible about your motivations so you can prioritise the right design decisions and not spend more than you really need to.
Map out your budget
Setting a budget for a retail store renovation project can be tricky business: how do you know how much it should cost? And more importantly, what can you use to calculate the ROI on your investment?
Your renovation team should be an excellent resource for both of these factors. It’s a good idea to meet with several designers and construction companies to get an idea for what certain things cost. You’ll also want to look at your own financials to see how much you can afford to spend on renovations. If you need to take out a renovation loan, you’ll need to factor in the cost of the loan plus interest.
Once you map out a budget, add 10% to it for an extra cushion. Remodeling projects almost always go over budget because of miscellaneous costs, delays, or some things costing more than what was initially discussed.
One way to stick to the budget you map out is to get specific on what the project will include, and don’t make any changes to it.
As for calculating the ROI of your renovation, you may not know the full value it brings until months after the project is complete. Putting a dollar value on renovation ROI is difficult, but a few telltale signs like increased sales, foot traffic, building value, and customer feedback can help you determine whether it was a good investment.
Think like a customer
When exploring ways to renovate or rebuild your retail store, put yourself in the customer’s shoes:
- What is their current in-store experience like?
- What are their perceptions of your environment?
- Does it fit the brand image you want to convey?
- How do customers interact with items in your store?
- What weaknesses does your current store have that you want to fix?
If you’re not sure about these answers, go straight to the source and ask your customers about their experience. Find out if they feel like your store is lacking anything. For example, if you get a lot of new moms visiting your store, then aisles wide enough for a stroller to pass through are non-negotiable.
Your employees are also a valuable resource when planning a store rebuild. They spend a lot of time within the store environment and may have valuable suggestions based on their own experiences.
Double down on your entrance
Because your store entrance is the first thing people experience when they visit, you’ll want to focus a generous chunk of your budget to this area. This is also what people see as they’re walking or driving by, and an attractive entrance could be just the thing that pulls them inside.
The first few feet inside the store is called the “decompression zone.” This is where many customers pause to survey the store and get a feel for the rest of your environment. They will use their perceptions here to make their way through the store, or turn around and leave.
Your best bet is to stand in your decompression zone and look around. What tone do you want to set to customers who have just walked through your doors? What’s going to catch their eye? You can influence many aspects of their experience from this single point, so take no shortcuts when rebuilding this essential touchpoint.
Focus on your power wall
When you step into your store, look to the wall on the right. That’s your power wall.
Studies show that most shoppers walk into the store and head right (which makes sense, given that 90% of the population is right-handed), so that wall will be among the first things they see. This is an excellent spot to display your new arrivals, high ticket items, high margin items, or overstock items you need to move quickly.
This area should be upgraded with care to attract attention and provide a showcase for your products. This shouldn’t be a place for your cash wrap or information kiosks. It’s prime sales real estate, so make sure you treat it accordingly.
Upgrade your lighting and flooring
When prioritising renovation projects, you should know that lighting and flooring often give you the most bang for your buck. There’s something powerful about the right lighting in a retail environment. It can help your products look their best, bring attention to specific elements, and create specific moods.
Flooring can also make your new store design pop, especially if your existing floor is in noticeably bad shape (e.g. stains on the carpet or an outdated style). A new floor can add new texture and dimension to your overall layout and make your store look cleaner and more modern.
Consider your competitors
It’s always worthwhile to take a stroll through your competitors’ stores to see what they’re doing. Chances are, you might find some inspiration to adapt to your own store or identify ways they could improve their in-store experiences.
If you do visit a competitor in person, pay attention to customer behaviors while in-store. Where are they placing their attention? Do they struggle to navigate the store or find what they’re looking for? Use these shortcomings to your advantage.
Choose a slow period for your retail renovation project
Last but not least, you’ll need to pick an optimal time to complete your renovation project. If you plan on closing during the renovations, which is usually a common choice given the mess and noise that rebuilds create, you want to avoid the holiday season or other peak shopping times.
Your contractor should be able to provide you with a timeline that you can use to pick the best timeframe. Keep in mind that closing down completely may impact your profitability, which needs to be factored into your project cost and ROI.
NOW IS THE TIME TO ITERATE
A retail rebuild can be an excellent way to get more people into your store and improve the in-store experience. Make it a priority to choose the right places to allocate your budget and make value-added changes to maximize your ROI. There’s never been a better time to work with an expert time who can make your iterative design a reality. Contact us today to discover how we can help you iterate your physical retail location!