Opening a new shop is a dream come true for many small businesses. Yet before you throw open the doors to eager customers, it pays to think carefully about how to fit out your new shop.
Why you need to create a shop fitting plan
A well-designed shop in the right location can create a positive shopping experience for customers. Happy customers who can find what they’re looking for are more likely to buy and come back again. Different shop environments communicate your brand values, attracting the right customer to your store. If you have ambitions to open further stores, having a repeatable layout and shop fitting plan can ensure your business and brand can expand into other retail spaces more easily.
Creating a shop fitting plan can save time and money, too. Setting a budget and timetable means you can avoid needless costs and choose a shopfitting partner that can bring your vision to life on time and on budget.
1. Shop fitting – planning your space
Shop fitting isn’t just about the practicalities of lighting, checkouts and window displays. Think about the shopping experience you want to deliver. Encourage customers to browse with well-planned spaces, and map out how you want customers to move around the shop and experience as much of your stock as possible.
When it comes to layout, think right. The majority of shoppers automatically turn right when entering a shop – known as the ‘invariant right’ according to Retail Minded. Put your most tempting offers and displays on the right and keep entrances clear so that customers feel welcomed into the store.
Functionality is king. Thoughtfully designed spaces value usability as much as aesthetics. Make a list of the important functions of the space and use this to create a shop fitting brief. Usability shouldn’t be lost during layout design – frustrated customers can be quick to give up and shop elsewhere.
Lighting is incredibly important when planning a shop. It can be used to reinforce atmosphere and brand, with spotlights, shelving and environmental lights adding colour, tone and texture to the shop. Use spots to highlight important areas and guide customers around the store. Provide clear lighting so customers can look at products.
2. Set a realistic budget
With a plan in place, conduct research to get an idea as to likely costs and use this to set a realistic budget. Identify your priorities and stick to those. Don’t be tempted with unnecessary fixtures and fittings, as they can quickly see costs spiral. If working with a small budget, the trick is to keep it simple. Invest in a few, key fittings to create an impact, and use lighting, paint and staging to add drama.
3. Use a shop fitting expert
Fitting out a shop isn’t like decorating a home. Not only can an expert bring a different perspective, good shop fitters will have undertaken similar fit outs and have useful ideas. Look for an expert with a bulging contacts book as they might be able to negotiate savings from suppliers such as electrical installers or furniture retailers. They should be well-versed in health and safety issues, able to identify potential trip and fire hazards and ensure the fit out meets any safety requirements.
If the budget doesn’t allow for a shopfitter, talk to a local carpenter who can help with bespoke shelves and other fixtures at a more reasonable cost.
4. Buy fixtures and furniture
Shelving units, display stands and islands, or railings to showcase products are essential to avoid the store looking like a jumble sale. Invest in accessible, flexible shelving or racks, and think about your products when deciding display density. A bargain home store is likely to feature densely packed shelves, whereas a boutique fashion store may be best served by just one or two items per shelf or rail. Check fixtures are the right dimensions and rated for the weight of goods you’ll place on them.
You also need a counter to accept payment and pack goods, and simple shelving for back-of-house storage.
5. Buy shop equipment
Once the main fixtures are in place, you’ll need to invest in a range of shop equipment.
- Pricing – buy a label maker to create price stickers or a tagging gun and tag attachments to fasten price tags to your products. You’ll also need point of sale labelling, signage, shelf labels and price tags, as well as promotional marketing such as sale and offer signs for the shop window.
- Point of sale – buy a till and electronic point of sale (EPOS) system for processing payments. New businesses can use mobile phones and contactless card readers to take payment for low monthly fees that automatically tie into inventory control, but you’ll need a cash register for customers not using credit cards. Check you’ve plenty of carrier bags – ideally in paper – with your brand’s logo and messaging on them. Remember to charge a fee for plastic bags.
- Safety and security – buy a safe to store shop takings. Think about investing in CCTV cameras, especially for store blind spots to deter shoplifters. Good CCTV cameras include the ability to back up video footage off site. Check you have working smoke detectors and fire alarms, and regularly test them. Buy an intruder alarm for when the premises is unoccupied.
You can save money buying second-hand equipment. Look on eBay, preloved.co.uk, Gumtree and similar websites for used retail equipment. You must also think about the basic utilities such as water, gas, electricity, internet, phone, insurance and council services such as waste collection. Shop around to find reliable and affordable suppliers.