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Store Fixtures, Visual Merchandising & Display Tips

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Woman Lobbies to Get Disabled Mannequins in Store Windows

· Displays

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Sophie Morgan, a 32-year-old British TV presenter based in London, is on a mission to increase representation of the disabled in fashion, raise awareness of the challenges disabled shoppers face, and encourage stores to consider disabled shoppers when designing the in-store experience. The mission might be a difficult one, but the way she has set out to do it is simple: by getting disabled mannequins in store windows.

The “Mannequal” is a wheelchair invention developed by Morgan, intended to act as a signal of inclusivity to disabled shoppers to let them know they are welcome within the store. Morgan is planning to pitch her idea at stores across the UK, including high street shops like Topshop, as well as major department stores such as Marks and Spencer and John Lewis.

Morgan herself is a wheelchair user and has frequently faced exclusion when shopping. She explains that she often encounters stores without disability access, and even in stores that do provide disability access, she often encounters barriers that make her in-store shopping experience frustrating and less enjoyable. In one specific incident in London, she found that a store’s disabled access dressing room was being used to store stock.

“I was in a shop called & Other Stories in Oxford Circus, London. They’ve got on the left what’s meant to be a wheelchair-accessible changing room. I’ve been in there twice now and it’s always full of stock, they don’t have it open,” Morgan recently told Buzz Feed, pointing out that these kinds of incidences inevitably make individuals with disabilities feel ostracized. “And that’s a brand new shop in one of the busiest shopping centers on the planet.”

Disabled shoppers are a major consumer group and command a considerable share of consumer spending dollars. By accommodating and including these groups of shoppers, Morgan believes stores can actually boost their bottom lines.

However, she is quick to point out that creating an inclusive in-store experience for disabled shoppers is about much more than just putting the Mannequal in store windows.  While the Mannequal is a key symbol, Sophie also says stores need to consider what kind of in-store changes to make to ensure they can fully accommodate disabled shoppers – including widening aisles or installing grab handles so that disabled shoppers can move around more easily.

In other words, the Mannequal is just one part of the process. “Behind that should be all the other things they’ve considered – training their staff and improving the shopping experience for every type of impairment before they consider putting that in their window,” she says. “I know that sounds like a lot but really it’s not. This is just another part of the lexicon of design. It’s not huge and complicated, it’s creative. I want them to get that it’s not just about popping a mannequin or a ramp in the shop.”

So, can we expect to see the Mannequal in stores anytime soon? A number of stores, including Debenhams and Adidas, have reportedly expressed interest. We may very well be able to spot the Mannequal in store windows in the near future.

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Low-Cost Design Ideas for Small Retail Spaces

· Displays

Putting together a retail store that looks elegant, appealing, and compelling can be a challenge under any circumstances, but it can be particularly challenging in a small space. Luckily, you can overcome the obstacles of small space retail space design to create a store that will entice customers and drive sales. Just be sure to check out the following guidance.

Make Good Use of Vertical Space

The key to designing a small retail space well is making good use of vertical space – include tower display cases and wall display racks for maximal space efficiency. If you clutter the floor with too many shelves and displays, it will make things hard to find and feel claustrophobic. The better approach is to maximize your use of vertical space on the walls and then use centerpieces sparingly for a look that is open and airy.

Be Cognizant Not to Clutter 

It can be a challenge to fit all of your merchandise in a small retail space without things looking cluttered. The key is to make sure all fixtures and furniture are neutral colors, ideally something like ivory or white. Too many colors will create a look that is visually overwhelming and cluttered, which will be unappealing to customers. You will also want to ensure that you aren’t placing merchandise too closely together so that things don’t look crowded.

Pay Attention to Lighting

A store that is dark and crowded is sure to feel much smaller than it is actually is. Therefore, you need to take advantage of lighting. Ideally, you will want to take advantage of natural lighting. However, in the absence of windows, strategic artificial lighting will do. For the best results, use a combination of track lights, lamps, sconces, and picture lights for both flair and variety.

In conclusion, it is possible to design a small retail space well. It just takes some extra thought, effort, and a bit of creativity.

For more information and to browse our store fixture catalog please visit Subastralinc.com

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Retail Discount Stores Thrive While Traditional Department Stores Struggle

· Displays

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It’s no secret that major department stores across the country are in decline, increasingly struggling to get customers through their doors and keep their profit margins healthy. Although traditional department stores are struggling to stay afloat, major discount retailers, like T.J. Maxx and Ross, are rapidly expanding. It’s estimated that some 9,500 retailers will close in the U.S. in 2017. Meanwhile, TJX, the parent company of T.J. Maxx and Homegoods, will open around 165 new stores in the U.S. this year. All in all, this is a major shift in the retail landscape. So, what’s driving it?

The main reason is that consumers increasingly expect to pay less than full retail price for the products they want and need, and they increasingly are lured to retail discount stores with coupons, discounts, and sales. After all, why pay full price for something at a department store when you could get that same item – or at least a comparable one – at a discount store for 20 percent less?

How do discount retailers keep their prices low? Interestingly, they often use the mistakes made by major retailers to keep their racks stocked.

“There may be an issue with sizing or overproduction. Or, increasingly common, a store may be closing and have extra product left over after a liquidation sale,” Libby Denkmann explained. “That’s when United National Consumer Suppliers (UNCS) swoops in, finding a new home for the merchandise, often with an off-price store that can tempt customers with prices slashed as much as 60 percent.” That translates into significantly lower prices and big savings for customers.

In conclusion, it is clear that the world of retail is undergoing a dramatic shift. Although traditional stores might be struggling, the future of discount retailers looks bright.

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4 Design Tips for Retail Store Interiors

· Displays

Retail Interior

Wondering how to design the perfect retail store? Be sure to take a look at these tips and tricks.

  1. Aerate the store layout and design. A retail store that is overcrowded and jam-packed with displays won’t just make customers claustrophobic. It will also create the impression that products aren’t high quality. To craft a vibe that is more sophisticated and high-end, make sure you are aerating the store design and layout. Bright lights, open spaces, and some greenery can go a long way in creating an open, airy effect.
  1. Give customers space. Have you heard of the “butt brush effect?” According to consumer behavior experts, the average customer will avoid going after merchandise in aisles where they worry that they could have their backside brushed or where they could inadvertently brush the backside of another customer. It doesn’t matter how interested the customer is in the product – if they are worried about the butt brush, they are remarkably less likely to go for the item. That means as a retailer, you need to be cognizant in giving customers the space they need. Otherwise, it could put a dent in your sales.
  1. Make sure that customers are comfortable. Research consistently shows that customers will spend more time in your store if they have a comfortable place to sit and relax. This is especially true if a customer is accompanied by someone who isn’t really interested in browsing, or if a customer has brought his or her children along. Therefore, make sure you have some kind of waiting area in your store, ideally one with comfortable seating. And try to strategically place this towards merchandise so customers can still have a quick look around while they browse.
  1. Invest in good visual merchandising. Want to actually get customers through the door? Make sure you have invested in high-quality, compelling visual merchandising. This will not only help to get customers into your store, it will also keep them there longer. Innovative and engaging displays go a long way in keeping a customer’s attention.

In conclusion, investing in your store’s interior is a worthwhile investment and will go a long way in boosting sales.

Visit Subastralinc.com for more information.

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The Key to Creating a Perfect Store Entrance

· Displays

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The perfect store entrance is one of the crucial elements of the overall layout and format of your retail store. It’s the first impression prospective shoppers will have of your store, so you want to get it right. To ensure you have a store entrance that dazzles, be sure to keep the following tips and tricks in mind.

Make sure it is inviting. You should be cognizant to place the most inviting items near the entrance of your store. You can do this by developing a sensory experience. In many grocery stores, for example, items most commonly placed at the entrance of the store include baked goods and fresh flowers. Both look and smell welcoming and inviting. Produce is also another common option, as the bright colors and fresh atmosphere help to entice customers.

Make sure you have a decompression zone. While you want your customers to walk into something inviting as they enter your store, you also want to make sure that you aren’t placing any merchandise too close to the actual entrance. Customers need some space to acclimate as they walk in, known as the “decompression zone.” The amount of space needed for this will depend on the overall size of your store. For some of the bigger retail stores out there, it may be as large as 10 or 20 feet.

Make sure you have a compelling display. It also helps to have a visually compelling display in your store right as customers walk in. This will grab their attention and pull them further into the store.

In conclusion, it is critical to ensure you get your store entrance right. Doing so will help you pull more customers in from off the street and entice people to stay inside longer, driving up purchases.

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Why It Pays for E-Retailers to Open Brick-and-Mortar Stores

· Displays

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“Online shopping will bring an end to physical retail stores.” You’ve probably heard this — or some variation of it — before. It is true that consumers are increasingly expressing a preference for online shopping as opposed to shopping in traditional brick-and-mortar stores, and it is true that many retailers are suffering as a result. However, it isn’t all doom and gloom. The reality is that the relationship between online stores and physical retail space is a complex one. In fact, it can very often pay off for an e-retailer to open a brick-and-mortar store.

Over the course of the past few years, it has been estimated that around 20 major U.S. e-retailers have opened brick-and-mortar retail spaces. Online retail giant Amazon, for example, launched its first brick-and-mortar extension — a bookstore in Seattle — back in the fall of 2015. Others to jump in on this trend include Warby Parker, Bonobos, Birchbox, and Casper. So, what’s in it for big online retailers when they jump and open a brick-and-mortar retail space? Let’s take a look.

First, brick-and-mortar stores are excellent marketing tools. The world of online shopping is incredibility competitive. Unless you can break it onto the first page of search engine results, chances are your visibility will remain low. This makes it incredibly hard to launch an online store successfully. Brick-and-mortar stores aren’t just economically successful on their own; rather, they can also give a brand a boost in visibility that can translate into improved sales online. Warby Parker, for example, actually saw an increase in online sales after opening its flagship store in New York.

Second, and equally important, e-retailers often open brick-and-mortar stores in the interest of omnichannel marketing, whereby brands integrate the digital retail and physical retail experiences. For example, a customer might be able to browse a store’s offerings from an iPad inside the store or pick up an item from a store after purchasing online. When online retailers open brick-and-mortar stores, it seamlessly facilities an omnichannel experience.

The world of retail is changing. However, don’t expect the death of brick-and-mortar stores anytime soon. The roles of online and offline shopping will continue to evolve, so the two experiences likely will continue to integrate.

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Plus-Sized Woman Protests Skinny Mannequins

· Displays

The unrealistic size of mannequins has been attracting quite a lot of protest and negative attention on social media as of late. From Topshop to Zara, major retailers have faced criticism that their mannequins present an unhealthy image to customers and fuel unrealistic expectations around what women’s bodies should look like, particularly following the publication of a study that found the majority of mannequins in British stores are unhealthy.

In an incident earlier this month, however, a customer took this protest to new extremes. A protester wearing nothing but a blonde wig reportedly posed in the window of a Dorothy Perkins store in the UK in protest of mannequin size. The protester was forcibly removed by the police after about 15 minutes.

The trend of women posing naked alongside mannequins to protest their unrealistic size appears to be gaining traction. For example, Canadian photographer Julia Busato received widespread acclaim on social media following the publication of her series of photographs depicting real women alongside mannequins in protest of unfair and unrealistic beauty standards.

Retailers have vowed to make changes as a result of ongoing protests. However, in spite of retailers’ pledges to put more realistic mannequins in store windows, critics allege that most retailers have yet to make meaningful and substantive changes to their mannequins’ sizes.

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Apple Designs Largest Retail Store Ever

· Displays

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Apple is planning to open its largest retail store globally in India. The company is reportedly planning to open two new stores in the country between 10,000 square feet and 15,000 square feet, one in Mumbai and one in New Delhi. That is nearly double the size of its other global flagship stores. The stores are set to be the biggest single brand electronic stores in India and will be modeled after Apple’s flagship NYC store on Fifth Avenue.

While Apple does do iPhone assembly work in the country, it does not currently have any retail stores in India and sells its products through resellers. Apple is now reportedly interested in opening retail stores in India in light of slipping sales in China, hoping that India could be a lucrative new revenue source given the sheer size of the market. Sales in China fell 14 percent over the course of the past year and dipped down to $10.7 billion in the most recent quarter. Meanwhile, Apple reported that sales in India grew by double digits during the same period, though it didn’t give any specific numbers.

The company has been working to get favorable terms from the government and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the Indian market in the run-up to opening new retail stores in the country. Apple’s team of top retail experts reportedly paid a visit to India earlier this year in order to evaluate the retail market in the country. Apple CEO Tim Cook also met with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington DC last month. Cook is reportedly lobbying the Indian government for tax and regulatory concessions from the government to open the stores.

“We have a ton of energy going into the country on a number of fronts,” Cook was quoted as saying in Fortune. “We believe, particularly now that the 4G infrastructure is going in the country and it’s continuing to be expanded, there is a huge opportunity for Apple there.”

Nevertheless, the stores are reportedly several years away from being a reality. An Apple store opening in India is unlikely to happen before 2020. Part of this is a function of the stores’ proposed size. It will be challenging to find 10,000 square feet of space in major Indian cities. Moreover, the company is reportedly still working to obtain the necessary permissions from the government.

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The Rise of Hands-Free Shopping

· Displays

Increasingly, retailers are leveraging technology to make the shopping experience easier and less of a hassle for customers. As part of this tactic, “hands-free” shopping is becoming increasingly common in the world of retail. Essentially, this lets users shop until they drop without having to lug around their purchases from store to store. Instead, they can have their purchases sent straight to their home, office, or hotel.

In London, major West End retailers like Marks & Spencer, Gap, Coach, Hunter, Liberty, and Lululemon have partnered with the shopping platform Dropit to facilitate this hands-free shopping experience. The shopping platform delivers a customer’s purchases to a location of his or her choosing after they’ve paid, so no matter how much they buy, they don’t have to worry about dragging their bags around for the rest of the shopping trip. It’s fairly affordable for customers – they just need to purchase a Dropit Day Pass for £10 ($13) and can then drop unlimited bags in any Dropit partner store for delivery. What could be easier?

And hands-free shopping solutions like Dropit aren’t just convenient for customers. Research shows that they are also good for business, which means that these solutions are in the interests of research as well. One study recently found that customers purchase up to 150% more when they’re using a hands-free shopping service. Moreover, research has also suggested that hands-free shopping can boost metrics like dwell time and ATV while simultaneously enhancing the customer experience.

All in all, hands-free shopping is just one of the ways in which the retail space is evolving to more seamlessly integrate online and physical forms of shopping, while also making things more easy and convenient for customers. It looks like hands-free shopping is just getting started, and it is likely to continue to take off in major cities across the world.

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Wind Mill Slatwall Products are Now Available from Subastral Inc!

· Displays

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Subastral Inc is proud to announce that we now supply Wind Mill slatwall products! Wind Mill is a leading manufacturer of both stock and customized slatwall retail displays. With close to 40 years of experience, the company has been producing high-quality slatwall since 1980 from its manufacturing center in Wisconsin and Washington.

Wind Mill Slatwall Products is known for the superior durability of its slatwall fixtures and displays. The company is the exclusive manufacturer of Anchor™ Core slatwall, which boasts twice the strength of traditional slatwall made with medium-density fiberboard core. This highly durable slatwall is available in a range of different laminates and finishes. Its slatwall products can also by enhanced with vinyl inserts, PVC accent strips, staining, lacquering, and metal inserts.

In addition to producing stock slatwall, Wind Mill produces a range of customized slatwall products to meet the unique needs of its individual customers. With its high-tech manufacturing facilities, Wind Mill is able to cater to a range of customer needs and offers a number of different customization options, including custom machining, finishing, cutting to size, edge banding, and radiused edge banding.

In addition to versatility and strength, all Wind Mill slatwall products are made using sustainable manufacturing processes right here in the U.S. It isn’t just great slatwall; it’s also environmentally conscious.

Wind Mill produces the best slatwall products in the market. When you choose Wind Mill products, you not only get excellent slatwall; you also support a company committed to sustainable manufacturing practices and to U.S. manufacturing. To see which of the Wind Mill Slatwall products Subastral Inc. now has available, be sure to check out our website.

Windmill slatwall panels now at Subastral Inc!

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