To Customize Or Not To Customize … Or Can You Do Both?

Posted on February 26, 2018 by Bud Morris

To Customize Or Not To Customize … Or Can You Do Both?

Posted on February 26, 2018 by Bud Morris

When it comes to answering the “slings and arrows” of retail fixtures, much like Shakespeare, we’re renowned for creativity.

To customize or not to customize is a must-ask question when retailers consider choosing between custom manufactured retail fixtures or off-the-shelf commodity fixtures, or whether they can (or should) have both.

It’s an all-too-common question. And rightfully so – there’s so much to consider.

How will the fixture look? What brand manufacturers the fixture? How much will it cost? Does it match your in-store brand experience?

The customer experience has long been a key consideration for retailers. Today, it’s not unexpected to see some go beyond by making it less about a product and more about the overall experience.

And a part of the shopping experience is a retail brand’s ability to convey its aesthetic standards – how it looks, feels, and how it creates an emotional connection with the customer.

So, what’s the difference?

  • Like a nicely tailored, bespoke suit, custom gives you the luxury of designing, engineering, and manufacturing fixtures specifically for your unique retail experience.
  • When you think “off-the-shelf,” you think commodity, the standard option for fixtures with a host of alternatives for shelving, racks, hangers, mannequins, and so much more.

But did you know that commodity and custom fixtures can be used together? Yes, you can marry them to complement your brand’s experience. Designing a unique retail space means you can spend more on making your brand more prominent in some sections, and reducing costs in other areas by taking advantage of commodity options.


Commodity: Off-the-shelf to your shelf.

This is the Alt text.

So, what’s the big deal with commodity fixture options?

Commodity fixtures are an attractive option since they can be very cost-effective versus custom. But if your retail space seems to take a basic approach to its environment, understand this: You still have to spend money, and the commodity isn’t dirt cheap.

What can approximately $25 per square foot get you?

Well, sometimes the least attractive (and cost-effective) retail space can be a successful experience. As the following article states, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and a retail space can seem “ugly” and still be successful.

But not all consumer experiences are created equal. And, not all commodity fixtures look the same. It can sometimes feel tricky, trying to navigate options for complementing your brand’s personality with your customer’s tastes.

What to consider?

  • Choosing the right finish – metal, wood, low-grade laminate, and a host of standard finishes.
  • Knowing that you’ll get commodity fixtures to your stores faster than custom (weeks versus months).
  • Realizing that commodity can be versatile.
  • Figuring out ways to maximize the retail footprint.
  • Not being afraid to explore design with commodity fixtures – yes, you can! And you can still use commodity with custom.
  • Your decision can often come down to price.

Custom: a sense of style matching your offerings.

This is the Alt text.

Bringing the same aesthetic to your store fixtures that your brand already emits can be tough. That’s why custom is becoming a strong consideration for many retailers looking to add depth to the in-store experience.

Much like custom lighting and bespoke furniture, custom fixtures play a prominent role in a retailer’s larger brand ecosystem.

Is there a shift toward custom?

Well, that depends on the brand. But we’ve seen greater interest in custom, especially considering that some online retailers are creating bricks-and-mortar retail spaces now.
This is disrupting retail and making the landscape very competitive.

But what does custom achieve?

Since retailers are trying to create a point of difference – an “in-store experience” that enhances products – custom can help differentiate and create a competitive advantage. Retailers are hankering to showcase the uniqueness of their brands, and custom fixtures can build on the brand’s personality, help celebrate its identity, and create an air of exclusivity.

With custom, there are endless possibilities – shapes, sizes, and textures can be distinctive with a lot of out-of-the-box thinking. A retail brand can take a very innovative approach to how they showcase products.

But considering the investment of custom, retailers are constantly asking how they can effectively demonstrate ROI.

In a recent Shop! white paper, we participated in a case study that examined a recent project. It helps to offer actionable insights for justifying these investments that create successful store redesign for enhancing the retail experience for customers.

What’s trending?

Is there a particular finish that’s hot right now? Is steel better than wood or stone better than glass? What about fabrics? Should I go with earthy elements or natural tones, and what about colours?

Trends are great for celebrities. But with retail fixtures, we suggest shying away from the trends, unless something “now” is aligned with your brand.

With that said, there are always design considerations that can help the brand.

A recent article by Shopify outlines 7 key retail trends that any retail brand should take the time to read and strongly consider their own experiences. And the one takeaway that resonates with us is a quote that sums it all up nicely:

“Today’s consumers want what they want, when they want it, the way they want it, and given all the shopping venues available to them, those wants are critically important.”

In sum: Be prepared to deliver.

Focus on the customer experience.

At the end of the day, this is certain: You know your customer and you know the experience you want to create.

And from our perspective, we know that:

  • Both commodity and custom fixture options have a place.
  • Both commodity and custom fixture options can be used in combination with one another – yes, they can.
  • We help retailers expand their businesses and manage their capital expenditures.
  • We will show retailers how to achieve their unique proposition as part of their unique physical environment.
  • We are experts at effectively showcasing a retailer’s offerings and captivating shoppers.

Your store shelves should always be strategically positioned to sell. And they should always be stocked with neatly organized merchandise. So, regardless of whether you choose a commodity or custom fixture option, or marry the two, we’ll help you make the decision that’s right for your brand and for your business goals.

If you’re willing to design your fixtures from scratch as a way to embrace your brand’s heritage, create new designs to encompass a modern aesthetic, or choose ready-made options to complement your budget, there’s a way we can help meet your needs.

We’re experts in commodity and custom retail fixtures.

We’re advocates for creating spaces that will thrive.

And we work within budgets to determine where best to spend on custom, on commodity, or both.

To help you understand the ins-and-outs of transforming a retail environment, look out for our next article in our “How to Get Started” series: “When you need a new store design.”