Magazines Archives - 2008 December

Shop-fitting & Visual Merchandising - Retail-tainment the Singapore store’s creative story
Story 3 - Focus

Singapore shoppers are a sophisticated lot. They go to a store not just to buy things, but also want a sensory experience. To give them the fix they seek, retailers are increasingly placing importance on retail-tainment in store design. Jolene Klassen reports.

When it comes to store design, retailers undoubtedly put their best foot forward, knowing they might never get a second chance at creating a good first impression.

In Singapore, where shopping is a favourite pastime of locals and tourists alike, retailers are determined to create shopping environments that stand out from the rest dotting the cityscape.

Wielding some influence on the direction they take is the way shopping has evolved from being merely “lifesustaining” into a more “leisure-based” activity. The trend looks set to continue despite challenges the industry faces amid the global economic downturns, and concerns over diminishing tourism
numbers and rising rental rates.

“Shoppers today do not just come in simply to purchase something and walk out. While at it, they want the entire experience of shopping and entertainment — what we term ‘retailtainment’.

Shoppers want to enjoy retail therapy,” notes Cindy Tong, assistant vice-president of visual merchandising and store planning for TANGS stores, operated by CK Tang Limited, one of Singapore’s largest retailers.

In order to provide an environment that keeps shoppers entertained, the store has to appeal to their senses. For this, a myriad of considerations comes into play. One of these, as pointed out by Esprit Retail Pte Ltd’s spokesperson, is ambience, which needs to “reflect an understanding of the products” within the store.

The official also lists brand image and type of products as key components of consideration in any store design and shop-fitting projects.

“Both the design and atmosphere should work holistically [to create] the look and feel of the store.

The design concept, fixtures, lighting and layout will [determine] the flow and ambience for comfortable
shopping, giving customers the feeling of ease and the desire to shop.” Says Gopal Ram, business development manager of Singapore-based audio-visual consulting company Savvy Tec Pte Ltd, which has worked on several projects both locally and overseas: “Store design and store atmospherics
cannot be in conflict as these are two important elements that need to go hand in hand. When designing a retail store, you need to consider all the atmospherics, the type of lighting and even
the tone set by the choice of music.”

So what goes into the idea on the type of store the retailer wants to build? “The design and layout of the store depend very much on the atmosphere that the retailer wants to create, as well as the clientele ...
in mind,” states space design consultant Kiew Lan Yin of local visual merchandising company Yin’s Design Pte Ltd who has worked with highend retailers the likes of Trussardi and Kenneth Cole.

Her view is supported by Tong, who shares that understanding the needs and preferences of shoppers has taken the TANGS stores beyond shopping into the realm of “lifestyle destinations”. “We focus on lifestyle in visual merchandising and in our strong window display, [with] a matrix of choices linked
through lifestyle relevance instead of product categories, [making] the whole shopping experience easier and more intimate,” she adds.

“Our fashion-lifestyle concept for children at TANGS Orchard, called Playground, has also incorporated a parents lounge where we provide parents with the same facilities they have in the comfort of their homes,” Tong says, as she delves into the many sections created in the store to cater to various types of customers. There is Wardrobe Men and Women. Beauty Hall carries the latest lines of skin- and
body-care products. PlayLab brings urban streetwear to “the young at heart”.

For women to indulge in “a world of ultimate extravagance in intimate apparel”, TANGS has even designed themed fitting rooms with “individualised fittings and illustrations”.

Such attention to detail, says the Esprit executive, has a subliminal effect on the consumer. In the same vein, she feels that the retail designer needs to “develop [an almost] telepathic sensitivity to the latest trends in products, markets and customer expectations to ensure a balance between continuity and regeneration”.

The location of the mall or shopping centre, too, has a bearing on store design, Kiew points out. For example, it would be unsuitable to set up a high-end luxury store in a small neighbourhood mall,
she says.

The space designer believes that customers are drawn to an outlet based on perception, which retailers translate into the store design and fittings. To give the impression of exclusivity, for
instance, high-end retailers tend to have stores that are comfortable and spacious, along with clean-cut designs to project the image.

While the space factor is important, Savvy Tec’s Ram believes the right balance is essential. The exclusive look, he argues, is not created by “simply placing fewer items on the shelf or display unit”. “You have to take into consideration lighting concepts, which can give products a heavenly image,” Ram avers.

Esprit’s official, too, adds: “Lighting creates unmistakably [memorable] moods and atmosphere that must blend into the ambience of the store to preserve its effect.”

A recent trend sees technologies incorporated into the retail store not only to enhance its brand image but also to help the retailer monitor customer trends and habits to gain a better understanding of the shoppers, Ram notes.

“Stores are becoming more techsavvy today, [with many] moving towards a more interactive form of shopping experience [through information] kiosks, interactive window displays, Wi- Fi and touch-screen panels,” he points out.

Says Esprit’s spokesperson: “New technologies are making a greater impact in the industry, with retail design benefiting from enormous advances in lighting and materials technology. For example, the Esprit outlet at Liat Towers uses Germany’s Ansorg lighting, which is developed by working with lighting designers, interior designers and architects to achieve technicallysophisticated and aesthetically-convincing luminaires and lighting concepts.”

As the retail industry continues to evolve, finding that balance between “engaging and entertaining” the shopper remains vital in store design and fittings.

“Retail designers [need to] continually invent formats and scenarios that are exciting and stimulating,” maintains the Esprit executive. “The retail space must be effectively branded, designed to communicate a distinctive message and emotion, with the intention of [influencing] customer’s purchasing behaviour.”

Taking the challenges in stride, Tong concludes: “Anything is possible with creativity, which is about adding another layer to what we have, to tell a whole new story.”


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2008 Dec Stories:

Retailing in recession - Part 1: What’s in store for Asian retailers?

Asia arms itself against the weakening world economy

Shop-fitting & Visual Merchandising - Retail-tainment the Singapore store’s creative story

Shop-fitting & Visual Merchandising - The silent seller is worth the investment

Shop-fitting & Visual Merchandising - What better way to lure the customer in

Wine & Gourmet Asia meets with huge success despite recession

SCMLogistics World primes leaders to meet ‘the challenging time ahead’

And the exhibitors speak up

Retailers need new tactics to weather economic storm

NXP unveils car key that doubles up as credit card

Online retailers upbeat this holiday season

Aeon opens its first shopping mall in Beijing

New Zealand wine producers told to limit production

Curves are in for Prada’s fall/winter eyewear range

Nike delivers a different ball game with The Six

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