Expert Tips on Selecting Commercial Flooring

Flooring is a major component of a commercial store design concept as it creates the overall tone of a space. When deciding on materials it’s important to balance design with practicality, and have your brand and target market at front of mind. Don’t underestimate the underfoot, as consumer comfort can affect their buying decision.

Retail Design Tip: For an on trend look in Melbourne retail fit outs – use an eclectic mix of materials with an increased focus on raw materials. Do it right and it will engage customers and provide a memorable shopping environment.

Here’s a list of things to consider, and tips to guide you, in determining the right product for your space.

Noise irritation and sound insulation

Loud noise in any retail environment can be distracting, discouraging potential customers from entering, or remaining within, your premises. Sound deterrents are not limited to deafening music meant for nightclubs, or booming voices echoing around busy eateries, but can be sound vibrations attributed by inappropriate flooring applications.

Be sure to consider popular footwear worn by majority of your consumers. Contemplate the dimensions and wall material of your space and how sound will absorb, or bounce off, this and carry around the store.

Ongoing care and maintenance

Some flooring options require a great deal of maintenance, so it’s important to weigh up the cost of this, and the time involved, prior to flooring selection.

What needs to be carried out in order to preserve durability? How easy is it to remove marks, scratches, tears? Will it discolour with sunlight? What will happen if a large liquid spill occurs?

Timber floors and polished tiles may look a million dollars, but can also costs this in time and money to maintain their luxe look.

An epoxy floor finish doesn’t involve constant or expensive maintenance. Instead is an easy to clean, durable surface that can be customised by colour, pattern and even images, to meet retailer requirements. Another benefit of using an epoxy coating is its self-levelling capability and quick turnaround time.  In turn, a great option for retail renovation when covering old flooring materials, and most importantly, less time your business will be closed for the store build.

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Ease of replacement

Carpet tiles provide flexibility as far as flooring replacement, as they’re inexpensive and effortless to interchange. There’s no need for a major undertaking of ripping up and replacing the entire floor, nor completely emptying your space to do so. Simply remove the affected tiles and replace as you would a standard tile (less grout colour matching issues!).

A desirable alternative to hardwood timber flooring are vinyl planks, which resemble timber, but with a much lower price tag. This direct stick vinyl product allows trades to easily remove and replace damaged boards individually, thus a highly desirable choice for any retail environment.

Durability

Vinyl flooring is one of the most durable flooring solutions available due to its high resistance to moisture. Slightly less so in vinyl planks (or vinyl tiles as they are sometimes known), than sheet flooring, as the chance of moisture penetration is greater due to the many joins in material.

The supplier of a product also needs consideration, in relation to the manufacturing techniques used to construct the flooring material. An obvious comparison would be Australian made products (known generally be of a high standard due to our tough manufacturing laws) compared to imported products.

Noticeable signs of hardiness, such as the density of a timber can sometimes be overlooked. However, the thicker the timber, the less likely it is to be damaged. A dense timber is much longer lasting than a thinner timber product. Sometimes it’s worth spending the extra money to gain a superior product.

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Hygiene and public safety

“Flooring hygiene is paramount and every type of floor will react differently to a maintenance regime, so making sure that manufacturer cleaning instructions are followed correctly is critical” advises Frank Jardim, National Sales Manager of Asset Flooring Group.

When deciding on floor coverings the key criteria regarding occupational health and safety is to consider slips, trips and bacteria. Sheet vinyl is heat welded with no joins, which prevents water penetration making it is less prone to bacteria. However, Frank warns “the use of reconstituted rubber mats, chair/table stoppers or caster wheels can create irreversible permanent staining on some types of vinyl flooring.”

Replacing commercial flooring is a major (and expensive) undertaking if required outside of a standard shop fit out. It’s imperative to carefully evaluate the appropriate materials and floor design when planning your store concept to avoid unnecessary expenses down the track.

For further shop fitting advice, read our 4 Tips to Planning the Perfect Retail Fit Out or contact our shop fitters, in our Melbourne office on 03 5943 0581.

Retail Shopfitting Trends in 2015

Shop fit outs are continually developing to improve the shopper experience. As a retail owner looking to expand or reinvent your space, you need to be on top of the current shopfitting developments in order to meet consumer expectations and ensure their shopping experience in your store is an enjoyable one.

Below is a list of 5 shopfitting trends that have remained strong throughout the year and are likely to continue well into 2016.

1. Build a Social Wall Into the Fitout

Encourage consumers to be actively social in store

Social media is the most influential channel when making a purchase decision. A step up from the pull up banners at business and social events, retailers are leveraging our love of social media and creating Instagram-able spaces within their shop fit out.

Exclusive Parisian hairdressing salon, Franck Provost, designed an entire wall dedicated to social sharing in their recent Emporium Melbourne shopfit. Although staff encourage clients to snap and share their new hair, many ‘selfie-obsessed’ consumers see the social walls for what they are, not require any promotion or persuasion in taking a pic and posting it online.

Embrace the continual growth of social media with this shopfitting trend, as the international infatuation does not look like stopping anytime soon!

2. Increase the Ceiling Height

Melbourne retailers are raising the roof

Majority of shopping centres across Melbourne and Victoria are enforcing an elevation in ceiling heights to create a grander appearance, soon to roll out across major centres in Australia. The common Melbourne retailer will raise their ceiling by 10-40% reaching a height of up to five metres.

As highlighted in our 4 Tips to Planning the Perfect Retail Fit Out, the ambience of a store can lure consumers and lengthen visitation. With this in mind, Joann Davis Brayman, Vice President of Marketing at Armstrong Commercial Ceilings believes, “Ceilings contribute significantly to the acoustical, as well as the aesthetic, environment of a space.”

Ceilings are a crucial element of retail design, often overlooked by vendors, and unnoticed by consumers. However retail spaces with raised ceilings are said to a generate a sense of freedom and creative thinking, allowing consumers to wander with a carefree attitude. Becoming less plan orientated and less budget conscious.

3. Experiment with a Pop Up Shop

Pop ups are an economical way to trial a physical store

All the rage in 2015, pop up shops are commonly designed as an experience that cannot be replicated online. Often creating a buzz amongst the public, amplifying social discussions and word of mouth with its unique offering and limited existence.

With the increase in e-commerce stores venturing into the world of physical stores, pop up shops have now become a fantastic platform to experiment in the benefits of a bricks and mortar store. Fitting out a pop up shop can be built on a tight budget, requiring only bare minimum fixtures such as slat wall panels and mobile racking, to display a minimal amount of stock.

4. Incorporate Tablet Technology at Point of Sale (POS)

Speedy service enhances shopping experience

The portable efficiency of Tablet POS can be easily adapted in store by employees and consumers alike, as the technology is used by more than two thirds of Australians each day (be it on their smart phone, tablet or desktop). Additionally, the system is in fact less expensive to purchase and install than conventional systems.

I recently experienced the desire of tablet POS myself, as my kids and I waited (… and waited) for popcorn before our movie. Have times changed so significantly that we expect fast and efficient delivery everywhere? Not only were the kids testing my patience, but so was the slow service. My experience would have improved greatly if a staff member took my order on their tablet, whilst I was in queue. Then I simply present my receipt or order number at the counter for collection.

Cloud based POS systems can track sales and manage inventory whilst minimising shopper wait times, and maximise trading space. Seriously – this trend is a no brainer!

5. Become Omnichannel with Bricks & Clicks

Merge your online and offline stores for a seamless delivery

Focus is continually increasing on omnichannel retailing, providing customers with a seamless integration across all touchpoints. Take your retail business from surviving to thriving by maintaining a strong presence in both your physical store and online. Be sure to provide consumers with a uniformed experience across all channels, as majority of shoppers use both platforms throughout their purchasing journey.

“For many customers the website is still the first online point of contact with the brand, and in store physical encounters still account for 94% of all sales, proving the non-linearity and importance of omnichannel consistency for today’s consumers.” (Forbes, Jul 2015)

One method in effectively constructing a strong connection between the two, is to incorporate digital into your bricks and mortar store.

Need a quote from a Melbourne shopfitting or joinery company to fit out your retail store? Contact AAFS Shopfitting on 03 9768 2668.

For expert advice from an award winning shopfitting team who specialise in retail fit outs, be sure to contact us on 03 5943 0581.

Omnichannel Retailing: 5 Ways to Integrate Digital Technology in a Bricks and Mortar Store

Omnichannel.  It’s the latest buzz word around the retail and marketing worlds.  So what is it?  Omnichannel is the seamless integration across multiple devices and platforms online, and in-store.  It’s providing consistency across all touchpoints to create an optimal customer experience.

You have a responsive website (if not, read here why you should), you’re engaging on social media, and overall feel you’ve got the online space figured out.  However, according to the Financial Review, online sales are only contributing to 6.9% of Australian retail spending – and growth has slowed.

So now more than ever, is the time to embrace omnichannel and digital technology to improve your bricks and mortar retail store.  2015 is the time to accelerate and differentiate.

To help, we’ve come up with a list of 5 ways retailers can digitalise their physical stores.

 

1.  Digital Shopfront Window Displays

One of the quickest and easiest ways to incorporate digital technology is within a window display. Gone are the days of visual merchandising with mannequins – in with digital screen displays.

With 60% of Australian shoppers loyal to up to 10 brands it drives the need for competitor edge to increase foot traffic into your tenancy like never before.  What better way than to show shoppers you’re on trend by exhibiting an eye catching digital shopfront to entice them.

Retailer bonus: Updating a USB stick with new videos or images is more time efficient than redressing a window the old fashioned way.

 

2.  Click and Collect

A Click and Collect system allows consumers to order products online and arrange pick up in-store.  A tailored delivery option that provides customer convenience by offering product purchase and delivery the way shoppers want it.

Retailer bonus:  If your fitout is well designed, consumers will further spend in store when collecting purchases.  According to a recent study by Verdict Retail 40% of homeware shoppers spent extra when collecting, “spending an additional 53.2% when picking up Click and Collect orders in store”.

For shopfitting advice on building a successful interior design, read our 4 Tips to Planning the Perfect Retail Fit Out.

 

3.  Touchscreen Tablet Technology

One way to utilise touchscreen technology in store is to increase convenience by empowering shoppers with access to stock inventory.  Jason Goldberg, Founder at RetailGeek told Shopify “While more than half of shoppers now use digital tools to pre-shop, the overwhelming majority still want to complete the transaction in store. When retailers think about their digital marketing, they shouldn’t just think in terms of capturing online sales. Providing a great store locator, giving access to real-time in-store inventory and having a well-executed local SEO plan, are amongst the highest value digital activities for any brick and mortar retailer.”

Better yet, if stock is unavailable in-store allow shoppers to arrange delivery straight to their door at the click of a button.

Retailer bonus:  Obtain invaluable customer details for future marketing campaigns.

 

4.  Free Wi-Fi

These days if we can’t access the online world, it’s fair to stay we won’t be staying long. As a retailer, we obviously want people to remain within our footprint as long as possible to increase the chance of spending.  With 75% of shoppers using mobile devices in store why not follow in Westfield’s footsteps and embrace the increased use of mobile technology by provide shoppers free access to Wi-Fi?

Retailer bonus:  Customers will linger longer and increase spending.  The added benefit of in store Wi-Fi is that it allows retailers to analyse data transmitted from mobile devices, and even send customised push notifications. Which brings me to the next point …

 

5.  Beacon Technology

Beacons are small gadgets that transmit a signal to Bluetooth enabled devices, identifying a shopper’s exact micro location. The devices are so tiny (we’re talking similar to the size to a 20cent coin) they can be easily hidden amongst almost any fixture in a shop fitout.

With the low energy Bluetooth signals, beacons can influence customer behaviour by providing personalised push notifications of information or special offers relevant to products shoppers are standing right in front of.

Will shoppers find this intrusive?  Apparently not.  Studies undertaken by eDigitalResearch in 2014 showed 45% of smartphone owners are receptive to retailers sending customised messages through beacon technology.

However there is a slight catch. Consumers must opt-in, as the transmitter technology requires a mobile app to gain its business intelligence.  So if you have no app, you have no action.

Retailer bonus:  Beacons can be used for in store analytics by collecting data on customer behaviour such as where customers went in store and how long they spent there.

 

Digital technology is one retail shopfitting trend that can be implemented in current stores by retrofitting to existing joinery, fixtures and fittings that were installed in the original fitout. With such varied application approaches, businesses of all sizes and shopfitting budgets can adopt digital and successfully merge online and offline stores for a seamless delivery.

To discuss becoming omnichannel by adding digital technology in your retail store, contact leading Melbourne shopfitting company, AAFS Shopfitting on 03 5943 0581.

4 Tips to Planning the Perfect Retail Fit Out

So you’ve been allocated the build budget and now to the task of creating a design brief for your fit out.  No matter how small or large your space is, getting started can be a daunting task.  Try taking a blue sky approach and ask your (inner shopaholic) self – With no limitations, what would improve my shopping experience?  Start big, then tame back as required. If you’re having trouble sticking to your fit out budget, try reading our tips on how to reduce shop fitting costs.

It’s essential to optimise the customer experience through careful planning across all elements of the build.  Put on your persona hats, taking note of shopper habits and mannerisms to recognise how to maintain attention and convert browsers into buyers.  Understanding customer behaviour is vital to business success, which all leads from laying the right foundations.

Bricks and mortar stores are where 93% of retail spending occurs in Australia (NAB Survey, Jan 2015) and shop fit outs are the foundation of your physical store.  Make time to research everything regarding your fit out.

To help you get started, we’ve provided a list of fundamentals.

Combination: The code to unlocking a successful Lighting Design

Lighting is critical to retailers to attract shopper attention and draw them in.  If an area of your store is not well lit, consumers will walk straight past and it may as well be empty.  Instead incorporate a combination of lighting options to create a well-balanced space.  The right mix of backlighting, downlights, pendants and track lighting and will generate a perfect fusion of illumination and shadow.

LED backlighting illuminates flat wall panels adding depth and dimension to any retail shop. They also have the bonus of being energy efficient, therefore lowering operating costs and saving you money.

Quality lighting is imperative above the counter of any retailer to add warmth and lure consumers, but must also be adequate and glare-free for shop assistants.  For fashion retailers, it’s also important to think carefully about lighting in your fitting rooms.  According to research undertaken by Shoppercentric, 60% of purchasing decisions are made within a store’s fitting room.  Artificial or poor lighting can be a real deal breaker for some shoppers.

Interior Design: Influence customer buying behaviour

A successful commercial fit out requires a strategic approach with the store layout and interior design.  This is then complimented with astutely placed signage, visual merchandising and product placement.

When planning the layout, remember not to lose sight of the customer experience.  For them, the persuasion in entering is the ambience rather than products themselves.  According to retail strategists at Kizer & Bender “patrons typically don’t notice merchandising displays within 15 feet of the entrance”.  Upon entering consumers are too busy making judgement decisions.  Will the products be suitable for me?  Are they expensive?  Is there enough room for me to easily walk around?

Installing floor to ceiling wall fixtures allows for optimal product placement, whilst maximising floor space and encouraging consumers to linger longer.  Low line shelving within the trading area permits customers to see more products and increase their spending.  The bonus for retailers is this also increases customer visibility, therefore reducing shoplifting.

Choosing the right layout option for the internal fixtures can provide space for promotional signage, assisting in traffic flow and helping to build your brand.  When selecting the design layout, have your target markets, products and brand in mind.  Through analysing and understanding customer behaviour, you will have the knowledge to design your space to guide consumers through your store like they are puppets on a string.

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Flooring: Doing the ground work

Kevin Tierney, Director of Consumer Environments, Tarkett North America and host of Webinar: Flooring as a Revenue Generator, says “Many facets of flooring can affect the shopping experience – from color to comfort, cleanliness to customization – it can play a large part in the sales generation of the space.  And because flooring can have a major impact on the overall mood of the consumer, we want to address how retailers’ can use flooring to further create brand awareness.”

Noise regulation is another flooring concern in the retail environment.  Without the right acoustics, consumers are likely to retreat and move on to a competitor.  In addition to being durable and sustainable, sound control is pivotal in the selection process.  Thankfully there are many materials, underlays and aesthetically appealing products, suitable for the retail market.

Flooring can also be used to create zones to segment merchandise, or to create a pathway through the store to lure consumers to a particular area or product.  Promotional advertising is also becoming increasingly popular on retail floors to influence shopper purchasing decisions.  It is no longer just about colour and comfort.  There are a range of variables to consider when fitting out the floor of a store.

Shopfitting: The nuts and the bolts of it

Shop fitters collaborate with commercial interior designers and a diverse range of business owners and RDMs (Retail Development Managers) on an ongoing basis.  Therefore, a key resource in obtaining information and advise on fit out solutions, and knowledge on relevant products that are available, and on trend.

Looking for one of Melbourne’s best shop fitting companies to quote on your upcoming retail fit out? Contact AAFS Shopfitting on 03 5943 0581.

2015 National Interior Fitout Award Winners

AAFS Shopfitting received a nationally recognised industry award in the 2014/15 ASOFIA and Laminex Group Interior Fitout Awards. Winners were announced at the 19th National Conference held in Hobart earlier this month. Nominated as a top three finalist the previous year, we were determined to step it up using only the highest quality products and machinery and focus on consistently providing a friendly and personalised service to enhance the overall customer experience for all clients.

We are so proud that all our hard work paid off, in turn being identified as an industry leader by taking the top prize in the category of Interior Fitout Up to $150,000.

Click to see images of the award winning hair salon fit out