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Store Design

Richardson Bike Mart Project Spotlight

Richardson Bike Mart Project Spotlight

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Richardson Bike Mart Project Spotlight
 

I’m good at running my shop, but I know my limits. When I decided to open our 4th store I knew I had a great location but I wanted this one to be an improved version of what the other 3 locations look like. The team at 3 Dots Design was great to work with. They are the pros in design and laying out the store and they allowed us to continue to focus on being the local pros at serving our customers a great experience once they’re in store. Our store looks fresh and new compared to other new retail experiences we see. Thank you to 3 Dots Design for doing such a great job in making our store more successful than we forecast.
 
Ken “Woody” Smith
~Owner

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The cash wrap in Woody's other locations is the heart of each store. It was important to him to carry of that same concept in this location but with an updated, more modern approach. The cash wrap centers around a logo sign that can be easily seen when customer enter the front door. 

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3 Dots Design Company Profile

3 Dots Design Company Profile

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Boulder Digital Arts featured 3 Dots Design in their newsletter this week. Check it out!

3 Dots Design is a strategic retail design and visual merchandising company that aligns brands with consumer needs to create exciting and enticing retail environments.

With over 50 years combined experience in the specialty run, cycling, outdoor and active apparel industries, the 3 Dots Design team consults on strategic retail design and merchandising with retailers and manufacturers in those arenas. They have also worked with clients in the yoga, coffee, college bookstores, cannabis, womens fashion channels among others.

Before starting 3 Dots Design, Holly Wiese had been well acquainted with run specialty retail by working at the iconic Playmakers running store in Michigan, her native state. After starting 3 Dots Design in 2009, she consulted in the bicycle industry where she oversaw all aspects of retail design and visual merchandising for Giant Bicycle, the world’s largest bike manufacturer.

In 2005, Holly met Andy Davis while working with Giant Bicycle and he has been the lead designer for the company since its inception. With 2 other full time employees; Ryan Wiese and Adam Batliner, and many contractors “on call” around the country, the 3 Dots Design team can easily expand or contract its workforce as needed for various projects and retail rollouts.

They find most of their projects to be located out of state, throughout the country however, they always love working local when they can. A few of their local store design projects include the iconic Neptune Mountaineering remodel, Boulder Cyclesport South, Smartwool Cherry Creek and Ramble on the West end of Pearl Street in downtown Boulder. They’ve also designed 2 of the Denver area Runners Roost stores and worked on the Go Far Smartwool partnership store on East Pearl, also in Boulder.

In addition to designing retail environments and product fixtures, they also spend a good amount of time travelling the country speaking at stores and trade show events. They recently returned from training retailers on how to improve their visual merchandising and how to sell more apparel at a bicycle retailer event in Minneapolis called Frostbike.

3 Dots Design also hosts an annual or semi-annual training workshop for all retailers called Rocky Mountain Retail Camp (www.rockymountainretailcamp.com). This event always proves to be very exciting for visiting retailers and it’s loaded with lots of training sessions and hands on merchandising practice at local stores.

If you have a moment to swing by Neptune Mountaineering, be sure to grab a coffee in their new café and take in their new digs. 3 Dots Design was proud to work with the new shop owners to bring their vision to life as well as to design their new logo, graphics, signage, fixtures and store layout.

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Here’s Why You Need To Get Serious About Your Own Retail Customer Service And Engagement

Here’s Why You Need To Get Serious About Your Own Retail Customer Service And Engagement

Article by Bob Phibbs

Brick and mortar stores have the ability to surprise and delight. So does a downtown shopping area.

The sheer serendipity of walking into a store can present you with random points of view. Couple that with a retail crew trained in the soft skills of how to engage a stranger and you’ve created an engaging shopping experience.

Jeff Bezos said it best: "We don’t make money when we sell things. We make money when we help customers make purchase decisions."

And that’s true for both online and brick and mortar retailers, right? So what’s online’s Achilles heel?

People only buy what they came to the site to buy, and if you’re an apparel retailer, half of them will be returned.

Maybe that’s because Artificial Intelligence (AI) is only going to show them a slew of things they are expecting to see. There’s no serendipity...

And serendipity leads to higher sales.

The question is, when does this become the tipping point where shoppers return to physical stores?

Humans love the random discovery of something new or unexpected. No algorithm can predict what that item will be or when you personally will be ready for it.

But that doesn’t stop them from trying.

Customer engagement is all the rage in marketing circles.

Customer engagement is a connection between a retail sales associate as a representative of the brand and a potential customer.

How you manage that retail customer service interaction makes all the difference.

Many pundits are touting how to really engage a shopper; we are to bring all of the resources of Big Data to brick and mortar retailers.

But does that mean for example that a salesperson is supposed to grab a shopper in the underwear aisle and haul them to the cookware display because Big Data shows they bought a frying pan at the same time they purchased a pair of underwear? Does the kitchenware associate grab a frying pan and run to the customer in the underwear aisle?

Further, will the salesperson who knows your browsing history charge you more like online retailers?

An article entitled, How Online Shopping Makes Suckers of Us All states, “The price of the headphones Google recommends may depend on how budget-conscious your web history shows you to be, one study found. For shoppers, that means price—not the one offered to you right now, but the one offered to you 20 minutes from now, or the one offered to me, or to your neighbor—may become an increasingly unknowable thing.”

Right now the online shopper has the blind belief online retailers are on their side and brick and mortar aren’t to be trusted for low prices. In fact, 71% of shoppers believe they will get a better deal online than in stores.

But that simply isn’t so...

Checkout my recent price check of a vacuum cleaner on Amazon and the price fluctuations that one product has had over the past 30 days.

How do you compete with that?

Well first off-whenever someone states the online price is always lower - challenge them.

That said, you can’t feasibly change all your prices by week, or month, or hour nor can you charge more for the woman who drove a new BMW to your store versus the guy who rode a bike, but conceivably you could online.

Who has the time or the budget?

Oh right, online retailers have the technology that can do that in nanoseconds.  

Your poor website hasn’t got a chance if you think you can compete on price.

And in-store, the less you train your crew, the more price-driven you will become. But because you aren’t adjusting prices in nanoseconds, you’ll probably be charging less than you should.

The less profits you make, the less you can reinvest in inventory, merchandising, training and even yes, Big Data.

Retail is not dead, but brands are dying.

Scott Galloway from NYU Stern School of Business says, “Amazon has declared war — with the backing of 500 million consumers and a lot of cheap capital — on brands. And we will, using our algorithm, find you as good a product for a lesser price. Amazon will figure out in a nanosecond the best deal and most likely trade you into the highest-margin product for them which will be Amazon toothpaste." 

But customers still want and need engagement

You’d think customer engagement would be a priority in brick and mortar stores right now, right?

I was strolling Michigan Avenue in Chicago last month. While most store employees couldn’t say a word to shoppers, there were a few who tried.

At Saks, I was greeted in the men’s designer department, “How may I be of service to you?”

I thought, Get away from me, it’s not the 1800s. Customer engagement is finding a new way to get strangers to talk to me.

At Under Armour I was asked just after I walked through their door, “So, what brought you in today?”

I thought, My feet.

Yes, they were trying. I mean, at least they were using their voices.

When I went into Macy’s, I saw they were trying at customer engagement too.

They had a DJ in the men’s shirt display unit – with no one around. 

Meanwhile, I walked through all of their men’s departments and passed their leftover sale clothes, and no one approached me.

No one.

As an aside, one of my Facebook fans, Shawn Fitzpatrick, reported an experiment regarding in-store music.  Their retail bicycle store stopped playing the music staff liked to listen to and swapped it for "feel good" music like Brown Eyed Girl, Sweet Caroline, and Friends in Low Places using an online music service.  They reported a 40% increase in sales over previous week. Seems there might be something to it.

Again, it’s all about the customer experience, not what staff wants. Now back to my experience in Chicago...

While I was on the second floor of the Under Armour shop, a guy entered the golf simulator to swing a ball at a virtual course.

Alone, he tried to figure out how to use it. I watched for five minutes and he stayed alone.  

That’s the best engagement those retailers could come up with?

Customer engagement helps people feel less alone. USA Today definedloneliness as “the feeling that arises when there is a gap between social interactions you want and reality.”

The most common complaint we still see in survey after survey of shopper pet peeves is “No one said a word to me, “Not enough employees to get waited on properly” or disengaged employees who do not want to serve anyone other than their phone.

That’s because we have an army of retail workers who have become mute.

That’s why you need to give your employees training so they get their own voices back. Once they do, they can become trusted advisors to shoppers.

Because online retailers are now beginning to use technology to try to get you to trust them.

The new Amazon Echo Look will now store pictures of you in your wardrobe and make recommendations for you. The app will provide an opinion based on criteria including fit, color, styling, and current fashion trends. All of the information being collected will also be used to help in providing future purchasing suggestions.

That’s pretty close to becoming a trusted advisor. And that’s pretty close to customer engagement.

But it still doesn’t add the magic of serendipity.

And if brick and mortar retailers don’t use their advantage of unexpected purchases, what happens?

They’ll squander their one big advantage and profits will suffer.

So with all these examples, I have to ask you...

What is it going to take you to get serious about your own customer engagement that leads to serendipitous sales?

Why should a shopper put more effort into shopping than you the merchant puts into creating a memorable – and by that I meanexceptional – experience?

They shouldn’t. But you should.

See also, What Do Shoppers Value and Want When They Walk Into Retail Stores?

In Sum

The way forward in retail will be a combination of stores and online to optimize the shopping experience and retain customers.

Scores of retailers are going to close – but it doesn’t have to be you.

You have to up your service game or you’re going to lose the game of retail. Retail sales training is still uncharted territory for many retailers.

They just don’t value putting money into the one physical thing that can most juice their sales - their employees.

Because of poor customer service and engagement in stores and online shopping’s endless aisles of products, shopping has been turned into just choosing things to use. Not new and different, but more of the same.

When the experience is as bland and boring as I had on Michigan Avenue, more and more shoppers will just let an algorithm choose.

And that’s a really sorry state of the future.

Take action. Hunker down. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Do what it takes now to get it done.

If you’re serious to compete in all of this chaos, let this post alert you to the real risks in retail right now. You have to focus on what the real problem is in your stores so you can fix them, rather than trying to treat the side effects.

I have a white paper that can help you, Bricks and Mortar Retailing at Risk in the Digital Age—From Silicon Valley to Main Street.

I call it my Manifesto because it sums up everything I believe is wrong with retail today (with some more figures to back it up), and how it can be fixed.

Boulder, Longmont retailers adopt a moveable feast approach to shopping

Boulder, Longmont retailers adopt a moveable feast approach to shopping

By Shay Castle

Staff Writer

POSTED:   04/21/2017 03:06:04 PM MDT | UPDATED:   4 DAYS AGO | by the Daily Camera

Jacob Dana has coffee and works on a project at Rapha Cafe and bike store at 1815 Pearl Street. For more photos, go to www.dailycamera.com. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

Sleepy Pearl Street shoppers can take themselves to one of downtown Boulder's dozen-plus coffee shops for a cup of joe. Or they could dash into Rapha, a cycling apparel store.

In need of a taco and a new bike tire in Longmont? CyclHOPS Mexican Bike Cantina has got you covered. Or put some pep in your step via an espresso and a pair of shoes at Flatirons Running.

These local retailers and others have hopped on the hottest trend in retail by offering food and drink to keep customers in the store and off online shopping sites.

"There's so much pressure on brick and mortar to differentiate from the Amazons of the world," said Russell Chandler, owner of Boulder-based Full Cycle. "Anybody can buy a high-end road bike online; you can go find a mobile repair shop. Shops run the risk of going out of business if they don't find ways to build more community."

Full Cycle is in the process of adding a 16-tap beer, wine and coffee bar to its downtown digs (1795 Pearl St.) which it hopes to have open in the coming weeks. Chandler sees it as a way to bring in more bodies and, hopefully, boost revenue.

"We host a 200-person women's bike club that might like to finish their ride up with snacks and beer," he said. "And we rent a lot of bikes to tourists who might want to sit down for a drink when they're done."

Rapha, a cycling apparel store that just moved in up the street (1815 Pearl St.), has "ended up being more of a hangout than a store," according to General Manager Pete Loptino. "People can look at their product if they're interested, but it's more about the culture of cycling."

In addition to the coffee bar, Rapha has a flat-screen TV that will always have a cycling race on it and hosts regular social rides that leave from the store. It's part of building an experience that turns shopping into "more of a social event," said Holly Wiese.

Wiese is a retail specialist at 3 Dots Design, a Boulder firm that specializes in store re-designs that boost profits. More and more lately, that includes adding coffee or sandwiches.

"Over the last three to five years, we've seen it popping up all over in bike, run and outdoor."

The trend isn't limited to active retailers. "Banks are adding full coffee bars," said Allen Ginsborg. (Boulder has one of those, too: the infamous Capital One Cafe that inspired a temporary bank ban on the Pearl Street Mall.)

According to Ginsborg — who develops shopping centers, including Longmont's Village at the Peaks — nail and hair salons are getting in on the game, too, offering wine and beer to customers.

"It's about creating an experience, an environment where people want to linger," he said. "Customers have higher expectations these days; you need to provide something that makes them want to return."

That's particularly important as options for shoppers proliferate online.

Internet retailers, dominated by Amazon, added $27.8 billion in apparel revenue alone between 2005 and 2016, according to Morgan Stanley. Department stores during that time lost $29.6 billion in apparel revenue, and major retailers from Macy's to Best Buy are closing dozens of stores.

Making physical shopping more efficient is the key, said Chad Melis of Oskar Blues, which operates Longmont bike shop/taco joint/bar CyclHOPS. By offering more than one service, customers can accomplish multiple tasks at once and reduce their trips.

"You kill two birds with one stone — you come in and drop off your bike to get some work and you can have lunch."

"It takes a little creativity" from a business standpoint, he added, "but combining revenue streams makes the concept healthier financially."

Tacos and beer haven't necessarily boosted revenue for the bike shop: Melis sees it more as a marketing play for Oskar Blues' bike line REEB Cycles, a way to "show who we are and what we contribute to Longmont's culture."

The local trend is new enough that it's not clear if the effort is boosting sales, though Wiese says her cafe-adding clients in other states have seen a bump. But Full Cycle's Chandler is hopeful that when the brews start flowing, the cash will follow.

"You just test-rode an $8,000 mountain bike, you sit down and have a beer — you might talk yourself into buying it."

Shay Castle: 303-473-1626, castles@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/shayshinecastle

Seeing the Light

Seeing the Light

Seeing the Light

Store lighting design can benefit from smart technologies, integration into architecture

by Beth Feinstein-Bartl

As the market continues to evolve swiftly, lighting designers find themselves seeking fresh ways to assist retailers. These strategies are a varied lot, from integrating lighting with architecture to embracing smart technology. All have one thing in common, however: to keep shoppers engaged.

Many shoppers need a new reason to step into a store. Lighting works with merchandising efforts to set a new stage, says Jered Widmer, principal at The Lighting Practice, a Philadelphia-based lighting design firm.

"Technology has pulled many shoppers away from the brick-and-mortar store shopping experience," Widmer says. "Shoppers need to feel like they are in a relevant place—somewhere that is enjoyable. Lighting helps tell that story."

This Bergdorf Goodman in New York City integrates lighting into the walls to highlight merchandise, thanks to lighting design by The Lighting Practice. PHOTO: ANDREW LYNGARKOS PHOTOGRAPHY

Layering for effect

Sean Hennessy, principal at Hennessy Design, a Portland, Ore.-based lighting design firm, believes the best designs integrate lighting into architecture and product displays.

"Our work is increasingly becoming integrated and layered," he says. "The ones we’re most proud of is where you see a careful mix of display and decorative, where the lighting doesn’t feel like an afterthought."

A prime example is the jewelry segment. Lighting is needed everywhere in jewelry stores, so the design must tailor all light fixtures to each application. It all comes down to contrast, Hennessy explains.

Layering often includes placing lighting at product level, where customers interact with the product. For instance, grocery stores with cosmetics and health products have more lighting at the shelf level. The higher the price point, the more layers of lighting, Hennessy says.

Most retail lighting is best with a combination of ambient and accent lighting. Too much ambient makes the space too uniform. Accent lighting provides punch and contrast to the displays, adds Maureen Moran, principal at Washington, D.C.- based MCLA Architectural Lighting Design.

In-case lighting requires thoughtful planning in conjunction with other light sources, as at this David Yurman in New York City with lighting designed by Cooley Monato Studio. PHOTOS: PAUL WARCHOL

Providing focus

Integration of lighting into the architecture and fixturing also makes for cleaner composition and fewer distractions, enabling lighting to provide focus and to direct the customer journey. For example, cove lights or backlit walls can be more effective than penetrating a flat ceiling with downlights, Moran says.

A key component for integration into architecture is the collaboration between designers, architects, and electrical engineers. "This is becoming the norm," Moran says. "The lines are becoming blurred because we are all dependent on each other for results. This gives the design more impact."

Whether it’s backlighting advertising/signage panels or undershelf display lighting, the integrated lighting approach better illuminates graphics and merchandise to attract the eye. It creates exaggerated contrast in the environment that naturally draws people, Widmer says.

"We see this in a lot of applications, including the candy and magazine racks at grocery stores," Widmer says. "The small scale and low energy consumption of LED technology has pushed this to the forefront."

Leveraging smart technologies

LEDs continue to be preferred in retail for their energy savings. Brands are taking the lead on sustainability initiatives, Hennessy adds.

"We’re seeing more awareness on their part," he says. "They are educated and want to be ahead of the curve. They are meeting growing demands from customers, who are seeking companies that give back and embody certain values."

But these days, advanced lighting can do much more for retailers and brands than just save energy. Lighting is becoming more intelligent and reactive; indeed, lighting promises to be key to the Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure. LiFi and other smart technologies can enable retailers to employ lighting systems in their quest for brand engagement, longer dwell time, and higher sales per square foot.

"Several lighting manufacturers have developed lighting that can track shoppers, merchandise, and/or employees," Widmer explains. "The technology is still evolving, but retailers can now collect even more data than before, at a higher level of accuracy and in real time."

This allows retailers to not only get a better handle on loss prevention, but also look at employee productivity, stock inventory, shopper habits, and traffic flow. This data can help optimize their performance, Widmer says.

 

At Chevy Chase Pavilion in Washington, D.C., MCLA Architectural Lighting Design integrated lighting into the architecture, creating a beacon for escalators. PHOTO: MCLA/IRA WEXLER PHOTOGRAPHY

Vetting expanding product lines

With retail’s short lead times, the growing product availability can be a blessing and a curse to lighting designers.

"Retail moves so fast," Hennessy says. "You find the perfect fixture, but if it’s not available for 12 weeks, then it’s not feasible."

The huge range of lighting products on the market gives designers plenty of choices, he says. But it also means designers must spend time vetting products and becoming familiar with their features in order to determine which work best where.

"It’s a huge, complex industry and there’s a need for experts," Hennessy says. "That’s where lighting designers come into play. Clients rely on us to steer them to the best products."

Emily Monato and Renée Cooley, principals at Cooley Monato Studio in New York, agree. "Everything seems to be at risk of being copied for less money and shorter lead times, but not necessarily the same quality," Monato says.

"The lines are becoming blurred because we are all dependent on each other for results. This gives the design more impact." — Moran

Communicating emotions

Monato and Cooley believe lighting should communicate the emotions of the architecture and the essence of the brand. Advances in technology, including smaller LEDs, are making this easier, they say.

Point sources must be accurately matched with linear sources to highlight in-case shelving lines. "The smaller the source, the greater the opportunity for optical control," Monato says.

At the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., the firm’s design contributes to the customer experience in the center’s avenues by organizing and enhancing the lighting with such fixtures as coves, chandeliers, and underlighting bridges. This decreases the visual noise and creates a relaxing, invigorating environment where people easily move throughout the space, Cooley says.

"Brands want to be associated with lifestyle through multisensory identification," Monato adds.

Setting the world aglow

Some of the most challenging strategies stem from deploying designs on a global scale. Most designers agree color temperature preferences vary by country. The U.S. market tends to like warmer color temperatures. Asian countries prefer cooler temperatures.

"Of course, it is dependent upon what materials and surfaces are being lit and the presence of daylight," says Moran.

Hennessy adds, "Even if we’re doing a store internationally, it comes down to the core customer. As often as we can, we seek consistency in all markets. It takes a lot of planning, R&D, and manufacturers."

It can be a delicate dance.

"There’s always going to be a home base—a branding with a particular market in mind, says Monato, whose firm has designed lighting for global rollouts for Michael Kors and Tiffany’s. "We’re having to design to that kind of headquarters point of view, as well as our own aesthetic, and hoping we are striking a middle ground."

For more lighting strategies, attend LIGHTFAIR International, May 9-11, 2017, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

The Dollars and Sense of LED Lighting

By Thomas Rabic

LED lighting technology has improved dramatically over the past few years. The efficiency of LEDs is now among the highest of all available white-light sources. For retail environments, LED lighting also offers the desirable combination of reliability and enhanced product illumination.

Manufacturing improvements have helped accelerate the adoption of LED lighting in general-illumination applications. In addition, price wars, mergers, and industry restructures have precipitated price drops at a much faster pace than most industry watchers predicted.

The rapid advancement in LED light output and efficacy, accompanied by the equally dramatic LED price decreases, has created a savings opportunity.

LED lighting typically consumes 50 to 85% less energy than traditional light sources. Through these cost reductions, investment paybacks of six to 18 months are becoming common. Retrofitting fixture lamps with LED will usually provide a quicker return on investment than replacing the whole fixture. Fluorescent T8 lamp retrofits lead this trend due to the sheer volume of existing installations in commercial applications. Whether new fixture or retrofit, the plus side almost always favors LED.

If your company has not yet begun to take advantage of this new technology, you are not alone. Surprisingly, industry data as of mid-2016 revealed that a large majority of companies had not yet acted on this opportunity to cut overhead expenses and increase profitability. One predominant reason may be that in many organizations, a gap exists between facility maintenance matters (operational) and business investment discussions (capital). Many organizations that have begun to successfully bridge this gap have done so due to a high-level commitment to reducing energy and maintenance-related overhead costs, with an eye on bottom-line benefits.

Today’s business environment provides numerous financial, policy, and market drivers that can support such a commitment:

  • ROIs from the reduction in light energy and maintenance costs are well within the threshold that most companies use to determine investment worthiness.
  • Financial incentives through utility, state, and federal energy-efficiency programs have become more attractive and prevalent.
  • The illumination from today’s LED lamps is now superior to fluorescent technology in terms of output per watt, color consistency, and longevity.
  • A growing wealth of data indicates that the superior performance of LED lighting is increasing productivity in a variety of industries.
  • Industry initiatives such as LEED encourage energy-saving strategies.

These motivators, along with the opportunity to add a point or two to a company’s bottom line, are increasingly motivating retailers to consider LED lighting upgrades.

—Thomas Rabic is director of business development for Emium Lighting LLC, a full-line LED lighting supplier.

Beth Feinstein-Bartl is staff writer for Shop!.