Plus more 2020 store design insights from Campus Store Design
Randy Stejskal, vice president and founder of Campus Store Design, and his colleagues Kim Walters, assistant director and interior designer, and Nicole Nielsen, interior designer, shared their insights about what design themes they’re currently noticing, how retail is changing and more and more stores are right-sizing.
What design themes are you currently noticing in your work?
Kim: Stores are looking for timeless looks that can evolve. We like to design spaces that won’t be outdated within a few years. We do this in a couple of ways: by specifying streamlined, flexible fixtures, as well as by focusing on a neutral color palette that allows the merchandise and graphic to be the pops of color needed to make a space come alive.
Stores are also looking for sustainable design. CSD can specify different wall and flooring treatments or retail fixtures that are eco-friendly, recycled or made of biodegradable materials.
We’re also seeing stores want to incorporate technology into the design. It could be in lighting, kiosks, a smart mirror or a place to custom design a unique school t-shirt.
Finally, another theme we’re designing for is being more innovative with the use of physical space. We’re helping stores reimagine how the retail space can build connections with students, faculty, staff and the community.
Nicole: I would add that creating a unique retail experience overall is important. Students aren’t shopping brick and mortar stores often, so an experience needs to be made to invite them in.
Kim and Nicole, you both noted how retail is changing. What are some of today’s retail needs and expectations, and how does store design address those?
Kim: Design is imperative in addressing today’s needs and expectations.
For campus stores, flexibility is really important. Generally, there are only two times per year when a campus store has an abundance of textbooks to sell. Otherwise those shelves are basically empty. We have several design solutions for stores that need to plan around this fluctuating inventory on the retail sales floor. We also design for flexibility with fixture systems.
We know experiences are important to students today, so we help creatively address unique selling environments that help stores provide those opportunities. This might be for an area where students can custom design a t-shirt, a virtual fitting room or space for author readings or book signings.
Stores are also looking to increase community sales and traffic. CSD determines how special community events, like a holiday wonderland, could work into a retail space and how to design the area to draw the community in.
Nicole: College students expect the latest and greatest.
As Kim mentioned, students want experiences. An example that comes to mind is a yoga/pilates space we added to a campus store.
Convenience is absolutely an expectation and need for busy college students. We’ve solved for this by adding self-checkout lanes to small grab-and-go markets, so students can quickly grab what they need and checkout.
We also help stores consider niche needs for their campus. If students are really into Frisbee golf, we can help design a section of the store that caters to those needs.
Randy, how does a store know what’s right for their campus brand and how does CSD help with this?
Randy: Most times, the campus store stakeholders engage their university’s marketing department in the design process. What happens then is really fun and exciting. We work with the campus’s marketing team and share brand identity opportunities for the items that we’re specifying for the renovation. These opportunities include a plethora of signage vehicles for the wall units, floor units and elsewhere in the store. We also allow them to visualize their artist creations via photorealistic software called AccuRender. This allows clients to see, photo realistically, what the end product will look like prior to any work being performed.
Overall, our clients are very resourceful and know their value to the campus. Their core desire is to serve the campus community and that guides the design process a lot.
Right-sizing is a buzzworthy phrase in the industry right now. Can you talk more about the concept and how it can benefit stores?
Randy: Yes, many of our projects involve right-sizing. We’re seeing stores decrease square footage from 15,000 to 10,000 or even 45,000 to less than 40,000-square-feet. Some stores are really considering and engaging in shedding excess square footage from their retail operation, and it does make sense for many.
Right-sizing helps to decrease square footage that is no longer as necessary as it once was due to changing shopping habits and competition. Changing markets, online shopping and shifts in a store’s operating budget are other factors that contribute to the need to right-size. Additionally, rents can be high and there are many entities vying for valuable space on campus.
What is involved in the right-sizing process?
Randy: Our industry renovates its retail operations at a slower pace than other retail. Some stores feature designs that are decades old, and what was correct at that time doesn’t align with today’s needs and expectations. Changing product assortments, new fixture capabilities and amenities all play into the right-sizing formula and process.
Today’s fixtures enable stores to house more SKU’s on the sales floor, as opposed to the stockroom, thus reducing required square footage in the stockroom. By right-sizing the stockroom first, and not the sales floor, customers don’t realize much of a difference in their shopping experience, with the exception that the sales floor is more abundant with product. And, that product is presented and merchandised more appealingly.
Our team works directly with the world’s two largest fixture fabricators. We train with these groups to write in-house quotes for our collegiate retail projects, and in turn, the fabricators allow us to sell to our industry with zero markup to our clients. The fixtures we specify are manufactured right along with fixtures for Target, Walmart, Macy’s, Hard Rock Hotel, Hollywood Bowl, Harley Davidson and Whole Foods Market, to name a few.
Finally, what do you expect to see from a Campus Store Design perspective this year?
Randy: What our team is seeing is that there’s really no one thing. Collegiate retailers are doing what’s right for their campus brand, whether that’s adding a team store or spirit shop to their stadium location, local mall or downtown, or creating a grab and go market in a high-traffic satellite location. We’re also seeing some reconfigurations of the point-of-sale area for a more on-trend look and feel and improved functionality.
Campus Store Design helps stores achieve their true traffic and revenue potential through store and planning design services. Learn more and view their portfolio at campusstoredesign.com.