Jun 20, 2013
Tricia Bertke

Retail design is a creative endeavor combining the expertise of architecture and interior design; also incorporating elements of graphic design, product display, functionality, and point-of-sale advertising.

The arena of retail design offers a variety of choices, but to be successful the spaces must be designed in ways that promote an enjoyable, hassle-free shopping experience for the consumer. The space you create not only displays the product(s) you are trying to sell, but stages the consumer’s perspective. The design of your retail space draws consumers in and allows them to discover your brand. A positive user experience builds a positive brand perception, which turns consumers into repeat and loyal customers. While it is true that a great sales staff influences customer buying power, your retail space (and the experience it provides) should be regarded as an important member of the sales team.

Below are 8 design tips to create a positive customer experience through retail design.


It’s all about first impressions. How does the consumer approach your space? With the endless amount of options out there, your retail space must catch their attention.


The color, pattern, and texture of interior finishes, graphics, and merchandise displays should spark curiosity as you move through the space. Escape monotony and create interest.

K4 Photos of Loth Showroom Project

K4 Photos of Loth Showroom Project


What message are you trying to send your customers? This is the chance to tell your story and express what makes you different. An early slogan of Apple was “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” and that message is still consistent in their brand and retail locations today.


Make a statement and stand out from your competitors. In the words of Madonna, “express yourself,” and your brand throughout your retail space. Virgin Money created an entirely new customer experience in UK retail banking, introducing the Virgin Money Lounge. The design was focused entirely around customer experience, changing the routine bank visit to a relaxing experience similar to visiting a coffee shop or wine bar with free wifi… a financial spa!


Now that you have the point of view – brand and market it! Be consistent with your themes and message, right down to the smallest of details. The more consistent your message is, the more recognizable your brand will become.

K4 Photos of Shish Wraps Project

K4 Photos of Shish Wraps Project


The circulation and flow should be easy, exciting, and encourage you to make a sale. You must not lose the function of the space. The ease at which one moves through the space needs to be a priority. Presumably, the longer someone wanders around your location, the more they will spend, so incorporate eye catching design elements throughout your space to encourage movement.


Create a welcoming and comfortable environment no matter what the style. Invest in community engagement and campaigns to connect your business with the local community. Community chalk boards, social media, and community events are great ways to get out there and be seen. The more engaged you become with the community around you, the more support you’ll receive from local residents. The Cincinnati Whole Foods does a great job with their events inviting the local community in to experience their space. They host events almost daily – wine tastings, salsa making contests, cooking demonstrations, local vendor sampling, etc. which not only attracts people into their space, but also engages them and encourages product trial.


Never lose sight of the overall experience. What do you want your customer to feel when they leave your space? You’re creating a space where you and your customers want to be. Back it up with a great product and service and you’ll keep the customers coming back…and bringing friends.

“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.”      Bo Derek