Updated: Sep 13, 2019

Are you beginning the great adventure of opening a store or restaurant? READ THIS before you get started!


There are many factors that influence the success of a retail/ commercial fit out. A well planned, carefully executed project is essential. From the store area flow, to the interior, the branding, visual merchandising and product placements.

Your store/ venue should not be a labyrinth of aisles, high stacks, nooks and corners. Unless of course, you happen to be a laser-tag course. The flow of your store should be logical to your clients encouraging ease and comfort while making their purchases.

Your products should be beautifully displayed, easy to find, neat and easy to get to. Your method of grouping items will be unique to your store. A nifty tip is to colour co-ordinate items when displaying them. This creates a sense of coherence and a product story. It eliminates the confusion created by a bonanza of Christmas tree colours.

Remember to guide your clients through your store with carefully planned routes, aisles, signage and visual cues.

Don’t be shy to add props to your layout that make sense to the theme. Light these areas appropriately to maximise their impact. Use items that compliment the product type, for example; wooden logs or greenery would accent heavy duty hiking jackets and boots.

“It is ‘show and sell’ time and an opportunity to give form and dimension to merchandise that is either neatly folded and stacked or limply hung on hangers.” Retail Biz

Great displays act as breaks in the traffic route of the shop, they are points of focus that create interest and draw the client's eye to something new, something on special, something entertaining.

The entrance of your store is the first judgement decision a client will make. Make sure this area is uncluttered, well lit and visually appealing. Potential client's minds race with thoughts of:

“Will the products be suitable for me?”

"Will they have what I need?"

“Are they expensive?”

"Have I got the time to find what I need?"

"Do I feel like be bombarded with loud music?"

"I'm not sure I want to stand in the queue!"

"Will that assistant be more interested in her phone that helping me with my query?"

"Will my every move be monitored and followed by an assistant?"

“Is there enough room for me to easily walk around with my trolley?”


Time is precious! Don’t waste your clients time by having a point of sales counter that is too small and inefficient at handling more than one person. If customers have to wait in line too long, they will get angry or simply leave. Efficient, speedy, faultless transactions start with allowing your staff the adequate space to do so.

Little, simple considerations mean a lot to a shopper who is in a hurry and is looking for a comfortable, quality experience. Going the extra mile is expected, rather than a perk, in the current day. Seating for fatigued or elderly customers; seating for people waiting in a fitting room line; providing ‘entertainment’ such as a TV with funny videos in a waiting room; a drinks station if the venue calls for it; reading material etc.

Your shopper is your guest – provide them with an experience that values that relationship.


Imagine popping into the fitting rooms to try on an outfit you’ve been eyeing out for weeks. First, the space is so tiny that you can’t get enough distance from the mirror to see the effect and fit of the clothing. Second, the dramatic yellow down-lights make you look like something from a Freddy Kruger movie and highlight every bump and flaw bringing it centre stage!

This cubicle is where the buyers purchase is made. If your fitting room cubicles make your customers feel claustrophobic and highlight every flaw, chances of them purchasing anything is slim to none.

Flattering lighting and quality, well positioned mirrors can enhance the colours of the outfit and flatter the client. Also consider the clients privacy. No one wants to be seen half naked through the gap in a badly hung curtain or have the tops of their heads or ankles gawked at because the doors are too short or too high off the ground.


“The customer is the guest you have invited into your house of business, so make her or him feel welcome and wanted.” Retail Biz

Your store design should invite potential clients inside. It should make them feel comfortable, welcome and curious. Consider the temperature and consider the music. You wouldn’t want hard rap playing in a therapeutic nail salon. Don’t cram your store full of products, there should be enough space to move around freely without being overwhelmed by thousands of choices that can’t be seen amidst the chaos.

Think about your target market. What do they like? What do they expect? The more comfortable a customer feels in your store, the longer they will stay. The longer they stay, the longer they will shop.