Fit Out Companies: What Retailers Should Expect From Their Builders

Fit out companies do more than just build and install joinery, yet many retailers seem uninformed of exactly what is included in shop fit out costs, and what they can expect shop fitters to arrange and coordinate when undertaking a commercial fit out.  So we’ve provided a breakdown of what retailers should expect from their builders.

Fundamentals: What Fit Out Companies Should Have Before You Consider Them

When gathering quotes from fit out companies, one of the first and most important things you need to ensure, is that the shopfitting company holds a valid builders licence, all required insurances, such as public liability and workers compensation, and that these are up to date. If construction is being done within a shopping centre, this is usually something verified by centre management administration; however can save a lot of time if you establish this before requesting a tender.

Pre-Works: What Shop Fitters Do Before Building Even Begins

For new clients of a commercial fit out company, it would be anticipated that the shop fitter assigned to your project would meet with you prior to project commencement. Here you would discuss your expectations and briefly outline the project timeline. This also allows you to both put a face to the name, so to speak.

As reassurance for both parties, a construction contract outlining the terms and conditions are commonly signed prior to initiating works. The contract should also outline payment terms. Retailers should expect these payment terms to include paying a deposit prior to commencement of the commercial fit out.

One shop fitting tip we strongly recommend is to assign your fit out company as early on in the project planning as possible. This is guaranteed to minimise your workload. Shopping centre retailers can expect fit out companies to attend the centre’s pre-start meeting. Pre-start meetings discuss matters such as inductions, construction plans and emergency procedures.

Furthermore, the fit out company will arrange building permits, coordinate base building works, known as category one, or CAT 1 works. This includes items such as sprinkler and EWIS fire services, and required air conditioning service works that are necessary for any commercial fit out. Your shop fitter will coordinate with centre management in regards to concrete floor construction, the external face of your store, any issues or alterations to tenancy walls and even organisation of the construction hoarding.

Essentially, the only reason a retailer would need to communicate with centre management regarding the shop build, is to sign off on the costings. Any further issues and interactions with centre management should be handled by the fit out company.


During Fit Out: Know What’s Required of, and Organised by, the Shop Fitters

Like when building a house, it’s desirable to maintain one contact person from the fit out company. This person would handle all your enquiries throughout the duration of the project. A Site Foreman is usually assigned this role, and knows the project inside out. Consequently they are able to answer any queries you may have concerning the store build.

Fit out companies arrange their own trades. From plasterers to plumbers. Flooring installers to electricians. The shop fitters coordinate these trades throughout the fit out. This includes supply and installation of all building materials and fixturing, such as lighting, flooring and paint. Any concerns or issues that may arise regarding the build are dealt with by the shop fitters with their trades, the retail designers or tenancy deliver managers, whichever applicable, and where possible.

Shop fitters are responsible for the fit out to meet the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and structural requirements. Relevant building regulations will also be adhered to, and are the responsibility of, the fit out company. Retailers should expect their store to be built within the contracted timeline, feature quality joinery using specified materials and finishes, and as per the quoted price.

In the unlikely and unfortunate case of costly variances or issues arising, it would be assumed that the fit out company would discuss these with you. Outlining the necessity and expense, and issuing a separate invoice for the variance (also known as a variation).  Progress payments are highly probable. Progress payments are deposits paid throughout the store build. The progress payments will be outlined in the contract provided prior to project commencement.

Post Works: What to Expect at Handover

As a general rule of thumb, a retail property up to 300sq metres in size, should expect around a one month turnaround on a complete store fit out. Handover of the store should be as per the agreed date outlined within the original project timeline.

Shop interiors should be 100% completed at handover, There should be no trades in the store finalizing their work.  Commercial cleaners (arranged by your fit out company) should have previously been through and have the store looking spick and span to allow retailers full access to stock the store in preparation for trade.

If this standard of shop fitter involvement and project management is not what you have received in the past, then shop around until you find one who will provide this.

Because this is what retailers should expect from their builders.

AAFS Shopfitting: A fit out company guaranteed to meet your expectations

Eliminate the anxiety and stress out of your next fit out by allocating shop fitters that are guaranteed to meet, or even exceed, your expectations. 

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.