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The Customers First Impression About The Retailer Marketing Essay

Aim of this assignment is to know how to layout retail store so that it creates the right image, and to make it as efficient as possible to attract customers and increase sales With enormous competition in the field, retailers are focusing more than ever on their store layout and design. Fixtures, traffic flow, lightning, colour, security and material are some areas which the retailers are paying more attention. Professionals in store designing and layout are busy making new store designs and exciting interiors (Diamond and Pintel 1996.). To analyse a store design and its layout I have chosen the store ASHES MENSWEAR an independent retail store located at the Old Christchurch Road, Bournemouth. It is located at the main shopping centre street in Bournemouth, giving it a more competitive advantage.

Ashes Menswear is in its 30th year of providing men's fashion in Bournemouth town centre. Initially Ashes was the part of Taylors Fashion which owned different clothing retail stores, but from last 20 years Ashes has been an independent retail store. It has introduced many unknown international brands to Bournemouth high street with more than 25 brands currently in the store. Ashes Menswear provides with men casual and formal shirts, t-shirts, jeans suits, shoes, tie belts and other men accessories. Over the years Ashes have tried hard to supply trendy and affordable cloths on Bournemouth high street with brands such as Firetrap, Sonnetti ,Henley's and Peter Werth being the most popular ones ( Ashes Menswear) .

In keeping with tradition, The Ashes Menswear aim to find and supply new, stylish apparel to our regular loyal client base. Displaying new and up coming brands is a role that the store does successfully as an independent retailer. They understand the importance of individuality, within the workplace as well as at play!. Offering a one to one service mixed with a friendly atmosphere and a relaxed approach, It utilises their unique position to introduce the customers to new and exciting brands, and a new style of apparel. ( Ashes Menswear) .

“Our mission in retail is to break the current trend of 'clone towns' - offering the same chain stores and identical fashion - and forge the way for independents, like us, constantly introducing new brands and trends.” ( Ashes Menswear) .

DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE AND LIFESTYLE

“Demography is the study of characteristic and statistic that are used to describe a population, each person can be characterised in term of age, sex, race, religion, family structure, education, employment, occupation, and income”(Lewison 1997 pg 95). Demographic study is the first step taken by the retailer in identifying actual and potential customers. Demographic study helps to know who the target customers are. Understanding the demographic profile and lifestyle of the target customer is important for the growth and success of retail business (Entrepreneur). It helps in determining what the product and service mix will include as it influences the pricing, packaging and promotion decisions. Demographic study is widely used by many retailers to improve business decisions. They need demographic information to analyse customers, identify market and avoid risk.(Demographic)

The demography and lifestyle of the target customer of Ashes Menswear is vey diversified. Ashes aim at targeting all types of men irrespective of their age. It does not target a particular segment or a particular age group. The product range at Ashes is very wide offering different style and fashion.

According to sales person working in the shop ,the customer age varies from 20-60 years but the major potential customers are from the age 22- 42.These customers include students ,working bachelors as well as married men. This is mainly because Ashes has a collection of formals, casuals, party wear, office wear suitable for students and working men. The party and casual wear shirts and t-shirts attract more youth where as the formal shirts, shoes and suits are for the men at work. As the store aim is to be independent and different from other chain of retailers who provide identical cloths, so the prices at Ashes menswear is slightly higher but affordable. This indicates that the customers of Ashes are more of working class who are ready to spend more or students who don’t earn but spend more. Women also come to shop in Ashes either with their partner or alone. The men are accompanied by their partner . The income of the average customers may vary depending on their lifestyle. It consists of higher working class, middle class, unmarried, student it can be anyone. No particular income group or class can be determined. The lifestyle of these customers can be described as men who want quality as well as trendy and fashionable clothing. They follow the latest trend and style.

STORE LAYOUT

This diagram is a layout of the entire Ashes store, showing the position of its various products inside the shop. As we can see that all the products are scattered in the different areas of the store and the products are unevenly placed. The store is divided into mainly three areas, the first area that is as soon as u enter the shop has all the shirts on the right side of the wall, some shirts are folded and kept in the shelves at the top while other shirts are hanging on the racks below the shelves so that customer can hold the shirt, see the colour, entire pattern, giving customer a sense of touch. The shirts are also hanged over the rack and kept in between as seen in the diagram; this attracts the customer from entering the shop. On the left side of the wall in first area, jumpers, jeans .t-shirt, trousers are either kept in the shelves or hanged over the racks giving the customer a better visual display. The middle area is concentrated on displaying shoes, belts and tie on one side while t-shirts and jeans on the other side. The third area is at the end of the shop where suits are displayed on one side while the sale items are on the opposite side. The fitting room is also in this part of the store. More space is allocated to this area of the store with a couch in between giving customers a relaxed atmosphere, where customers can wait for the other person who has gone in the fitting room. There is even a large mirror next to the fitting room which gives customer a better view to check products they have tried in the fitting room.

FIRST PLANNING DIAGRAM: TRAFFIC FLOW

The store should be designed in such way which allows easy movement of customers and to allow the best presentation of merchandise. The traffic flow of customers can be influenced through proper design, aisles and over all lay out(Gilbert 2003). Proper care must be taken to facilitate for a smooth flow of customers traffic while at the same time leading them through out the store. Aisle should be easily accessible .Narrow lane tie up traffic and add to confusion during selling periods (Diamond and Pintel 1996).

In order to begin making changes to the product placement in the store it is important to know the overall plan. To do this, retailer first need to recognize the current traffic flow of their store and develop a plan to direct traffic flow so that customers will shop the entire store and with their attention focused where the retailer would like it to be. (GLM LLC)

The traffic flow in the Ashes Menswear store can be easily understood in this diagram. The beginning of the store is congested with more merchandise. Customer enters the store and start from the right side towards the staple merchandise that is shirts which are also kept in the middle as seen in the diagram. The customers move ahead in the same direction checking out different shirts and reaching the narrow passage where shoes, jeans and t-shirts are kept. After this the customers moves to the rear part of the store which is more spacious as compare to other sections of the store. The customers can move freely in this section. There is more traffic in the middle area due to the narrow passage. If there are more than one customer at the same time interested in buying shoes will lead to traffic and inconvenience in that area.

SECOND PLANNING DIAGRAM: LIGHTING

Lighting is one of the most important though often ignored element in a successful store design. Retailer has come to know the independent importance of lighting that can greatly affect the sales of the business. They have learned that different types and levels of lightning can have significant impact on sales. The type of light sources available have increases quickly, we can choose several light fixtures and lamps suitable for the store merchandise (Dunne et.al 1995). Lighting can be used cleverly to show the stores merchandise to their best advantage. Lighting ensures that the cloths hanging on a rack, folded in the shelves or displayed in the store front looks attractive to customer and gains their interest (Diamon and Pintel1996).

The current lighting design in Ashes menswear is very simple. The entire store has small down spot lights with three bigger spot lights above the cashier .As we can see in the diagram there are plenty of small spot lights fixed in the entire store giving a bright atmosphere and clear visibility to merchandise. The spot lights are incandescent, directing to each area of the store and focusing on all merchandise offered to the customer.

THIRD PLANNING DIAGRAM: SECURITY

Many retailer are facing regular security risk either by their employees or by shoplifters. Surveillance system ,two way mirror ,two way mirror ,armed security guards, plain-clothes store detectives, locking merchandise devices are the few measure of detecting and preventing taken by retailers (Diamond and Pintel 1996)

People involved in designing the general lay out of the store including the placement of fixtures and fitting in the selling area should also focus on security. The fixtures should be placed in such a way as to prevent any blind spots or dark corners which could become security risk (Huges and weller,1989).

In Ashes Menswear store cash counter is place at the centre of the store from where the cashier can have a clear visibility of most areas in the store as shown in the diagram. The cashier is aware of people entering in the store which reduces the security risk. Employee being alert on the duty is the best way of avoiding any shoplifting or theft in small retail stores. There are also security alarms to detect any shoplifting .There are also plastic disc attached to garments and designed to be removed with use of special tool.

MERHCANDISING PLANNING DIAGRAM

Merchandising planning diagram shows the position of staple merchandise in the retail store. Staple merchandise is the most important merchandise a retail store offers to its customer. Staple merchandise has more demand and sales over other merchandise. It is important for a retailer to place its staple merchandise properly in the store as to attract more customers. Shirts are the staple merchandise for Ashes Menswear. In the merchandising planning diagram of Ashes Menswear we can see that majority of the shirts which are the staple merchandise are placed at beginning of the store and very few at the rear between the suits. At the front of the store all the types of shirts are closely kept together to each other, so it is very helpful for the customer to find and select the shirts. Very few shirts are kept at the rear, for the customers to buy along with the suits.

The problem with this lay out is all the staple items are kept in the front and not in the rear, this may not attract the customers to go at the rear area of the shop leading to less sales of slow moving and other merchandise. Customers buying staple merchandise may not tend to explore other areas of the shop, affecting other selling areas. It is important for the retailer to influence customers to explore the entire shop.

NEW STORE LAYOUT AND DESIGN

With the use of planning diagram to analyses the store design and layout of Ashes Menswear, I have made necessary changes and recommendation shown in this diagram. In this layout, I have placed the suits at the front of the store replacing the shirts which are kept at the end of the store. The wall has been deleted at the middle reducing the traffic flow and making more space for customers to look around in the store. All the types of jeans and trousers are kept together on the left side at the beginning .The shoes section is moved to the rear, as to get more noticed by the customer and also the customer can take more advantage of the couch to try different shoes. Jackets which are seasonal merchandise have been placed in the front along with jumpers. The shirts hanging on the rack and kept in the middle of the store is changed to round table display attracting more customers and giving them clear view of the merchandise.

NEW PLANNING DIAGRAM : TRAFFIC FLOW

By strategically placing the staple merchandise throughout the interior of your store, retailer can balance the traffic flow throughout the store and increase the overall sales Traffic flow in the new store lay out would be almost same as the previous flow. The only changes would be that the customers would start from the left side of the store as jeans are the second staple merchandise after shirts. Customers will tend to take this route starting from jeans as well as noticing the shirts displayed on the round table. The absence of the wall in the middle will result in smooth flow of customers at the rear of the store .and also help in reducing traffic. At the end of the store the customer will start from the sale items moving towards shoes and shirts. The customer flow in this shop is very simple and majority people will tend to take this direction resulting in less traffic and easy movement through out the store.

NEW MERCHANDISING PLANNING DIAGRAM

In this planning diagram, staple merchandise which is shirts are placed at the beginning as well as the rear of the shops. Staple merchandise place at the beginning will attract the customer and encourage them to shop in the store. The staple merchandise at the rear will make the customers walk through the entire shop to reach the rear exposing all the merchandise available. This layout will benefit the retailer in increasing the sale as customers may pick up other items on their way to the staple merchandise at the rear.

NEW PLANNING DIAGRAM: SECURITY

There are not many improvements or changes we can do regarding the security in Ashes Menswear store. Cashier is placed at the right position from where majority of the areas of the store are accessible. The cashier can keep an eye on customers entering and leaving the store. The sales person working in the store mentioned about having hidden security camera in the store but the position of the security camera were not disclosed.

NEW PLANNING DIAGRAM: LIGHTING

Lighting in new planning diagram remains almost same as the down spot lights works well for the retailer. The only change done is replacing few down spot lights with direction spot lights as seen in the diagram. These directional spot lights show more importance to the staple and other merchandise attracting the customers towards it.

CONCLUSION

Store design is an important factor influencing the customer’s first impression about the retailer. The most visible element of the store is the design and layout. Retailer can attract its customer by its appearance and immediate surroundings. Analysing the store design and knowing the demographic profile and lifestyle of the target customer is very necessary for every retailer as they can effect the important business decisions taken by the retailer. The planning diagram for analyzing the store design gives us a better understanding about the position of staple merchandise, security of the store, traffic flow and importance of lighting and visual display ,These planning diagrams are useful in making new designs and layout of the store or to make changes in the existing layout.


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