By Aimee Chanthadavong

Store design is a strategic process that retailers need to consider, retail author of The Power of Retail Design Mark Muller told Retailbiz at the Retail 2010 Expo and Conference.

“Store design should be addressing three key areas of the project: the layout and planning, branding and communication and décor and merchandising,” he said.

“These three areas can greatly influence how people see and move around your store but the experience they get, the products they’re exposed to, the impulse of decisions that they make and ultimately profitability.”

He noted that due to Australia’s smaller-sized economy, local retailers are always looking to the overseas market such as America, Europe and Japan for inspiration.

“We always look at what’s happening in the major retail sector around the world and we look at the trends there and what we think could come to Australia and sometimes those trends are quite novel but not applicable,” Muller said.

“How we differ is that we just don’t have the economy to support it. I could go overseas tomorrow and look at the stores that are ten times bigger, ten times more expensive to create and their market is ten times bigger. And with that volume they are able to play around with these fringes or these retail experiments and how they create store experiences or marketing techniques.

“Obviously we don’t have the budget here for it so the challenge for Australia is to take what we can from the overseas market and see what could work here under budget and under space requirement.”

One key influencer that Muller believes retailers can learn from is Westfield.

“I think on the big scale Westfield has been extremely innovative compared to the rest of the world in what they do and I think they’re a shining light on how we improvise and create spaces to draw in customers,” he said.

“I think they’re being credited for simple innovations like rooftop car parking never existed in America before Westfield and the way they were able to structure their store to create a brand from a shopping centre has never been done before.”