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Collaboration Nation

It takes a village to maximize store design

It’s no secret store design can make or break a retailer. Not only does a brilliant design have the power to entice shoppers to step inside, but a clever layout can also encourage shoppers to browse for longer periods of time and ultimately purchase armloads of products. However, effective store design is about much more than eye-catching displays, well-placed lighting and other aesthetics. It’s also about reinforcing the retailer’s brand image, creating a memorable customer experience and minimizing overall operating costs.

Of course, creating and implementing a winning store design is easier said than done. With so many moving parts, this formidable feat requires a team effort between facilities management, suppliers, store operations personnel and other vendors.

“When it comes to maximizing store design, I think communication is key,” emphasized Steven Spencer, Global Procurement for Forever 21. “It all starts with a good owner.”

Whether you’re undertaking a refresh or a full-blown remodel, here are some tips to optimize store design through careful collaboration.

Tip #1: Clearly Define the Scope of Work

Spencer says effective store design begins with identifying the scope of work, which means clearly defining the who, what, when, where and how.

“Properly identifying the ‘scope of work’ enables the identification of the activities and tasks involved in separate work packages and their relationships to one another and the end-product,” he explained.

Tip #2: Speak the Same Language

Optimizing store design involves an array of professionals, from FMs and architects to suppliers and store operations specialists. With so many different team members from a wide range of industries, messages often get lost in translation. This is why it’s critical for everyone to speak the same language.

“Store Design and Architecture need to consistently understand and communicate the Scope of Work using an industry standard, universally understood language: the Uniformat II and AIA Masterformat CSI WBS,” Spencer said. “The adoption of this ‘industry standards mutual language’ ensures everyone inside and outside the company is on the same page.”

Spencer says these tools are essential to succeeding in retail. “This communication system is the most powerful companywide management tool because it provides the basis for planning, leasing, scheduling, estimating costs, configuring, procuring, monitoring, reporting, directing and controlling projects,” he explained.

Tip #3: Rally the Team

Again, optimizing store design requires coordination between a variety of team members. To foster a collaborative environment, Spencer says it’s critical all team members to treat each other fairly and professionally. “Treat all vendors with respect while requiring the same treatment,” he said. “They are in reality an extension of your team.”

He also offers this invaluable advice: “Write clear contracts, using very specific language instead of generalizations. Also, demand prompt invoicing and pay all contractors promptly, per your contracts.”

He says a web-based retail designed maintenance system will also prove helpful for these types of projects. “This allows you to schedule reoccurring and preventative work, track maintenance requests, work status, closeout and payment,” he explained.

Last but not least, keep the lines of communication open with operations employees. “Make it easy for operations  staff to ask for help – they have a difficult job already,” he said.

Tip #4: Hold Frequent Team Meetings

When tackling a store design project, it’s essential all team members meet as frequently as possible. “Contractors and vendors should meet often with the owner’s entire team,” Spencer emphasized. “Invite each other to meet regularly to discuss the hot topics, new ideas and technology and trends that are happening in our industry.”

Last but not least, take time to form connections with other industry professionals – even when you’re not working on a major store design project. “Network, network, network,” Spencer advised. “Grow those personal relationships. The place to do that is PRSM!”

By: Amy Bell

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