“Consumer Experience” is a buzzword that is currently being used extensively by retail professionals as well as retail designers. Like everything the retail sector has been hit by a host of innovations and disruptions over recent years which is transforming the way, retailers think about their products and space. With the growth of e-commerce and online retailing, many predicted that it would signal the end of the Brick and Mortar store (physical space). Well, the good news is that we will certainly not see the end of the actual store, well not for many years to come anyway. The focus, however, is also on creating amazing spaces which provide for great customer experiences.
For retailers that don’t step up to the plate and create something special for shoppers, will certainly lose market share to online shopping habits as well retail stores that provide great service and an above average in-store experience. Whilst there is a host of factors that will influence a great retail experience, one of the leading factors will be the overall interior design of the store and the finishes used.
When it comes to the flooring within retail spaces there has not been a huge consideration in recent years bar the fact that it had to be neutral, durable, easy to clean and be long-lasting. Being non-slip has obviously also been a leading factor. The last thing a retailer wants to face is a lawsuit from a customer that has slipped because of a bad flooring specification. With this in mind, it is understandable that most stores you visit either have tiles or vinyl, which is suitable for industrial and high traffic areas.
The mindset is however changing, and with a strong focus on aesthetics, we can look forward to a host of different applications being used on the retail floor. A big trend in design is combining different flooring types in an area in order to create interest and variances in texture. Retailers have to guide consumers through the various areas of the store and mixing up the flooring can subconsciously take a consumer on a guided journey through the key areas of a space. Tiles and vinyl can still be used in high traffic areas but using carpets and engineered wood in the actual merchandise area can create a feeling of change and actually enhance the psyche of the buyer. I firmly believe that the premium products, whether they are clothing or electronics, should be displayed in carpeted areas with great lighting to create a feeling of luxury. With the pressure on retailers, we can expect a far greater focus on the psychology of buying and something as simple as flooring can have a huge impact on this.
When it comes to clothing stores, more often than not a sale is won or lost in the changing room. There is still very little consideration for the overall aesthetic of these spaces. Change rooms need to make people feel and look great, so whilst great lighting and great mirrors is a no brainer, the consideration for the floor is equally important. This is the perfect area for carpeting and good quality, plush carpeting which feels fantastic underfoot since, in many cases people changing in these areas will be barefoot.
The feeling of luxury will immediately change the perception of the brand and the garments that are being tried on. Having carpeting in these areas will also create a feeling of warmth and create no reflection off the floor like tiles would. There is nothing worse than a cold, sterile changing room.
Other key areas where carpeting can be considered in a retail environment are the lingerie section in a clothing store and the bedding section of a furniture store. With carpeting, still being a prominent choice in bedroom design, it only makes sense that the environment where these products will ultimately be used, replicate the feeling of the actual space. The longest time people can spend in a retail store is at the checkouts and a great area to use carpeting to again create a subtle feeling of luxury.
It is important to understand that the application of carpeting in a retail store will always be restricted to specific, specialised areas, so don’t expect to see or use it for that matter in large discount stores and supermarkets. It is important to always consult with flooring professionals when specifying for the retail industry as a wrong decision can become an exceptionally expensive exercise.