The importance of retail store design in an e-commerce world

view of a dress shop that utilises Accuride slides to create a beautifully designed shop.
Heidi Hamraoui
ByHeidi Hamraoui,Internal Sales
Published by :Accuride International
Tablets are becoming more powerful, TVs are becoming more advanced and we are able to access a myriad of applications straight from our mobile phone.

In a world where the easiest way to communicate with a target market is through a smart device and everything can be seen in high definition from the comfort of our own home, good retail store design is now more important than ever.

The number of consumers heading to e-commerce sites to buy their products has risen significantly over the past few years. This has put additional strain on the high street stores who are struggling to encourage their customers through the door to buy.

What is involved?

How a shop’s front window and interior are designed have the power to engage and encourage consumers in a way which smart devices cannot - with a personal connection and a positive shopping experience. It’s no longer just about simply selling the products; design is there to intrigue and inform.

Covering everything from advertising to layout, lighting and fittings, retail design can take many forms, each an important consideration to help engage with consumers and ultimately, getting them to the point of buying the product.

Why is it important?

Retail design acts as an extended marketing opportunity for a business. The design is not just there to encourage consumers to purchase their goods; it is an opportunity to sell the brand and to give the consumer an experience that will match their aspirations

On average it takes around 8 seconds to walk past a store front, giving just 4 seconds to capture a consumer’s attention and to get them into the front door. Relevance is a key factor to effective retail design. The design must speak to the consumer – it must match the buyer’s desires. If the design succeeds then the brand has the opportunity to tell its story and deliver a clear and coherent message.

According to a Harris Interactive survey, 86% of adults would pay more for a better customer experience. But customer service should be more than just a warm welcome through the front door. Add in the emotive experience that comes with well-designed retail spaces and you start to develop beneficial relationships with the customer.

And it’s not just about consumer engagement - staff retention rates and productivity at work have been proven to increase as a result of good retail design.

Shops also play a key part in our social infra-structure. Our once vibrant high streets allowed social interaction, which is lost as high streets become quieter and online purchases increase.

Executive creative director of the Americas at Fitch, Christian Davies, said: ‘the world of experiential design has never faced more of a challenge that it does today, while simultaneously never finding itself presented with a greater opportunity.’

Who stands out with creative and innovative retail design?

IKEA is a unique prospect in the way they design their retail space. Attracting users with their affordable household furniture and accessories, their store is laid out like a maze. Thanks to this, customers spend a large amount of time within the store and are more likely to impulse buy. People don’t want to go back for products in this one-stop shopping environment and this encourages customers to buy with less deliberation than normal.


This model saw IKEA return a 5.5% increase in net profits over 2014, with the Swedish retailer pulling in worldwide profits of £2.5 billion during 2015.

For another great example of relevant design look at the Apple stores. The simplicity of design, incorporating clean lines, neutral colours and open spaces reflect the look and aspiration of their products. Environmental factors are considered an important part of the design process, drawing in the surroundings to create a common message through their brand.

With an ever-growing online retail market limiting what was once a vibrant and busy high street, it is now more important than ever for retailers to develop strong and inspiring design to encourage consumers through their doors to buy.

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