Retail Space Design after the Pandemic
Posted by Kuldeep Bwail on May 25th, 2021
People have had to change the way they do so many things after the Coronavirus infested our lives.
Retail therapy has taken on a new avatar – online shopping, which has but a fraction of the flavour of retail store shopping. Most consumers have no choice. Brick and mortar retail outlets have been shut for a long time, and many people are just not making ‘impulse’ buys any more. Necessities are bought online, and as people realise they don’t need all that they used to buy, they have begun to enjoy seeing a healthy bank balance.
When shops re-open and people are once again free to spend, there is every chance that they will shop with a vengeance, if for nothing else than to make up for lost time. Retail outlets must necessarily change their strategies. Product ranges will change faster, and the retail space must look appealing for several reasons:
- Retail stores will be competing with online shopping.
- They need to cover the losses incurred during the lockdowns.
- They must vie with other competitors for the attention of consumers.
However, with the ever-mutating nature of the virus, Covid norms must continue during the interim, and retailers must adapt, learn to swim with the tide or sink. Retail firms are finding it more profitable to set up shop in mixed-use entertainment centres, where the spillover traffic from other events at venues of close proximity may walk right in. These firms are prioritising cost and lifestyle factors while looking for space.
Then there’s the prospect of using already leased retail space for law offices, ‘hoteling’ or other forms of shared workspaces as a way to reconfigure idle retail space. Industry professionals will no doubt recognise that hot desking, hoteling and coworking belong to the same family of methods to share work areas in a smooth, easy and hygienic manner in a pandemic-run world.
Slowly, retailers across the world are lifting their shutters again, and retail design during the post-Covid season will have to focus on flexibility. Retail store building design and retail space planning changes made today may need to be modified in months, due to the whims and fancies of the Coronavirus. So, what will the face of shops’ construction design look like if it is to fit into the diktats of the new strategy?
- Stay flexible - Flexibility may be critical. Covid safety rules may change again (and again). Rather than investing in expensive and cumbersome bricks-and-mortar changes, retail store layouts must be able to adapt quickly and seamlessly.
- Optimise sales online - Online sales may well garner the lion’s share of overall sales. The pandemic has encouraged this trend worldwide. Retail outlets, if they have not already jumped on the bandwagon, will need to improve their online retail strategy.
- Communicate safety guidelines - To build trust in terms of safety and cleanliness, consumers must know what to expect before they arrive in the store, including maintaining proper social distancing in line or updates on a safer checkout process. Retailers must clearly communicate new rules at the entrance.
- Fulfilling needs – Retail spaces will no longer be positioned as havens for browsing, being entertained or finding impulse items. Consumers will visit retail stores to buy a specific item or two and leave quickly.
- Safe customer experiences - Clearance bins may be transparent and customers may be given gloves to rummage through them as well as for browsing through racks.
- Shopping appointments - Stores may ask for appointments to be booked online. Shoppers may have to enter a specially reserved space, where a salesperson brings them the things they want.
- Entrance transition space - Check-in areas with instructions for safety can link to the brand’s branding elements.
- Revamped sampling areas - Cosmetics retailers and other retailer that rely on product sampling may redo their counters. Samples will need to be single-use.
- Pick-up space - Pick-ups can be by appointment to limit lines, with special covered pick-up zones.
- Reducing checkout congestion - Checkout stations will be designed for safe customer spacing and easy cleaning.
- Employee areas - Employee areas will be designed for overall employee wellness, hygiene and safety.
- Spatial requirements - Space required may be up to five times greater than it used to be.
- Customised materials - Retailers may want smoother surfaces to discourage bacteria and live viruses, fewer wood surfaces and smoother paint textures.
- Eliminate handles - Handles and knobs can be eliminated by incorporating doors that can be opened without handles or opened automatically.
- Germ-free shelving - Retailers may invest in the sort of shelving used in hospitals and doctors’ offices.
- One-way aisles - To eliminate bottlenecks and speed up the shopping process, retailers may create one-way aisles.
- Keep products in storage – For further safety, items that have been tried on may be kept in storage and later sanitised.
- Eliminate impulse displays - To keep checkouts quick, simple and sanitary, retailers may remove the impulse purchase items routinely stacked at checkout counters.
To make these changes, retail space planning and store layouts will need extensive and perhaps drastic changes, modifications or renovations. The support of experienced and reliable retail 3D modelling, retail construction drawings and retail rendering are paramount. Retail store building design may be the first of many design changes to come after the pandemic.
XS CAD has valuable experience providing retail store building design services and retail space planning drawings for global retailers. Our range of services for structural, architectural and building engineering firms, such as consultants and contractors across the world, include concept design, CAD drafting, 3D modelling and visualisation. We have proven to be a preferred BIM outsourcing partner, due to the high quality of our 3D models and detailed construction drawings, created by using Revit, AutoCAD, ArchiCAD and BIM Collaborate Pro for cloud collaboration.