Design principles: Retail vs Hospitality

By 19th October 2020Uncategorised

When you get down to it, the same design principles apply no matter whether you’re designing a coffee shop or a gift shop – customers want a memorable experience. They want to enter a desirable environment where the placement and presentation of your products makes all the difference to their purchasing decisions. They want an escape. They want to be captivated. They want to be enticed.

However, the way you approach these principles WILL vary depending on whether you’re designing for hospitality or retail.

Let us explain…

1. Customer Experience

Every business, strives to keep customer experiences at the forefront of their design strategy. After all, without customers you wouldn’t exist. They are the foundation upon which you survive.

As such, the best retail experiences are designed around the idea of enhancing consumer journeys or highlighting the features of a product. In doing so, you have better odds of sparking their interest and converting a sale.

A great example of this is when shops add play areas to their stores so children can play while their parents shop. This enables parents to focus on your products and services, and not become distracted by the activities of their children.

Now, while these same tactics can be applied to hospitality spaces – for example, how many coffee shop designs have you seen which contain mini play areas or colouring stations that can be brought to the table?

Trotters Children's Toy Store Interior

We have found that the best experiences are designed with the intention of appealing to target audiences and their interests, regardless of whether they intend to make a purchase or not. This is because, if you get the experience right, the chances are they’ll buy from you anyway! There is no need to force the situation to happen. Your store design choices will do some of the work for you.
Another prime example of this is Acai Sisters. They offer a yoga studio as part of their London location where consumers can stop by and exercise without having to buy any of their products. Instead, they rely upon the fact that consumers will more than likely be hungry or thirsty after a workout, and as such will naturally turn to them for refreshment and sustenance.

And this experience works! Why? Because their target audience are superfood fans who are health conscious and whom want to find ways to stay active and healthy. By combining the two together, Acai Sisters are fulfilling both of these requirements.

What does this mean for you?

No matter the type of store you wish to create, it is essential that you’ve got a clear understanding of your target audience preferences and tastes as this will be critical in influencing what you stock and how you choose to design your space. This means taking into account their expectations and incorporating them into your strategy. If you don’t, then you are quite simply missing an opportunity – an already engaged audience.

acai sisters yoga studio

For instance, customers will expect plenty of power outlets and free Wi-Fi in a coffee shop design, as many will want to sit down and work as they enjoy your products. Gift shop designs will differ as while they’ll want access to Wi-Fi so they can compare products; they’ll be more than happy to do this using 4G. Instead, they’ll be more interested in easy accessibility and movability around your store – whether that be from you grouping products together based on what they do e.g. Christmas themed gifts separated from everyday décor, etc. or you offering wider aisles.

2. Environment

Continuing on from our point above, your target audience will play a key role in deciding the environment you create for them within a retail or hospitality space. That is why, it is imperative that you take the time to ask yourself questions such as – do they need large spaces and ramps to improve accessibility? Do they prefer a spacious and airy environment that lets lots of light in? Do they want to see elements of local culture that is unique to the area? You need to design your space to not only meet their expectations but enable them to feel the way they aspire to be without complication.

Now, a lot of this is applicable to both niches; however there is one key difference between the two…

You see, hospitality spaces are typically designed to be social, energetic and encourage customers to stay, connect and partake in your products i.e. coffee, tea, cake, etc. for an extended period of time. This means that they shouldn’t be cramped or hard to navigate, but should be somewhere where friends/family feel comfortable in gathering and sharing experiences – easy to ebb and flow around the space – i.e. is welcoming and unrestrictive, otherwise you’ll risk limiting yourself to one-off drop-ins, instead of customers who are happy to buy multiple drinks and snacks over the course of their stay.

cafe seating

Store designs differ because the needs of their customers are not the same. Unlike a coffee shop where customers plan to dwell; there is a greater urgency to shop and browse in retail stores. For instance, consumers rarely want to spend hours searching the shelves of just one place. Instead, they want immediate results and access to your products. As such, retail stores will only offer seating when it makes sense to have it next to the product i.e. so customers can try on shoes.

These kind of distinctions will crop up more often than you think, so you need to take this into consideration before you put your plans into action. What do your customers want? What do they expect? What will make the time that they spend in your space for enjoyable or easier?

3. Products

Regardless of the environment you want to create or the experiences you wish to provide, your products should always be the focus as they are the defining feature of your business. They are what pay the bills and generate your income. So while using lighting to highlight your social spaces will work to your advantage in your hospitality design – namely, customers will be able to see where they can go and relax – without placing your products front and centre in the long term, it will affect you financially.

Now, in retail achieving this is pretty easy as you can harness displays and situate them around your store so customers can constantly see what you’ve got to offer as they shop – but if your product blend isn’t right, or the customer flow is clunky, you’ll lose that sale.

Coffee shop designs differ as customers will expect to see all of your purchasing options before they reach the checkout. This means, you have got a shorter distance/area to make an impression and show them everything you’ve got to offer. This will where posters, display cases and having all of your products listed on a board behind the checkout comes into play, as it allows your customers to choose while they queue.

cafe menu behind counter

As you can see, when it comes to creating a design strategy, retail and hospitality are arguably pretty similar in their list of part, but worlds apart in the execution. True, they may differ in the strategies they use to get there; however, at the end of the day they both want the same thing – to create the ultimate customer experience in order to enhance or encourage a sale.

Fortunately, at Resolution interiors we can help. Hotel lounge, coffee shop, shoe shop or gift store… no matter your business niche; our design professionals can blend customer expectations with your product offerings and create an environment that perfectly matches your target audience.

To learn about how on to strategically plan your space, contact us today.