Keys to a Successful Retail Remodel

Our experience with remodel projects is extensive. The scope of a remodel compared to a new build is very different and each remodel project can differ based on the scale of the retailer. We’ve learned a thing or two on the best ways to ensure a successful remodel based on the work we’ve done with our clients. Here are a few key factors retailers should consider before approaching a remodel project or program.

One size does not fit all
Whether it’s to renovate outdated décor and finishes, integrate new technologies or keep up with the competition, the reason for a remodel is generally the same across the board. However, each remodel is very different from one another and needs to be treated as such. It is vital to customize the remodel to each store instead of proposing a blanket prototypical approach where the same items are updated in every store. If the approach is not tailored to the individual store, there’s a chance capital could be incorrectly spent. By assessing each store individually, it ensures the retailer is investing in the areas that need it most and not wasting funds on items that would last for years to come.

Open communication and store engagement
A fear most retailers have when it comes to remodels is the risk of losing sales during the process and the length of time it will take to bring those customers back. Historically, there is a drop during the heart of a remodel and it generally takes twice as long to get customers back. So, how do we keep the customer base satisfied and avoid a drop in sales? We believe the key is open communication with the customers and store engagement.

The store management should be on board with the project from the beginning and can even provide input as to what may be best for that location. The store will then be better prepared to communicate with contractors, understand the schedule and provide consultants with what they need which leads to a successful project.

An open line of communication with the customers is critical. It’s inevitable the store layout will need to change (maybe multiple times) during a remodel so it’s beneficial to update customers about what’s going on within the store. The store must provide directional signage and have staff available to help the customers find what they’re looking for. If the store becomes too difficult to navigate or staff isn’t being helpful, customers will look elsewhere. Building excitement around the remodel and providing a glimpse as to what is coming will go a long way. Additionally, holding a customer appreciation event to kick off the start of the remodel and a Grand Reopening Celebration not only lets the customer know when the work starts and ends it also helps to build a buzz and excitement of what is to come.

Specifically Trained Teams
One major aspect of a remodel is the adjustments made to the fixtures and merchandise. Historically, a store receiving a remodel, would hire temporary employees to facilitate the resetting of fixtures and movement of merchandise. The problem with this strategy is that it is very costly to the store and demanding on the store management to quickly hire and train up to 60 temporary employees. To overcome this retailers are shifting their approach by creating dedicated teams that are specifically trained to not only reset the merchandise but also be there to be a resource for the customers who may need help finding times along with stocking products and unloading trucks. Eliminating the need to hire and manage an additional 60 temporary associates, allows the store management to be more engaged in the process as mentioned previously.

Key trends in recent remodels
The biggest trend we are seeing in retail today is the different services a brand can offer the consumer. Between mobile apps, in-store pickup and delivery services, the goal is to offer the most convenience possible to the customer. This is a leading factor that drives retailers to consider a remodel. Brands are asking themselves, “what can we provide the customer?” Whether it is the convenience of buying online and picking up in store or offering flexible check-out options, enhancing the customer experience is top priority. We’re seeing that price is no longer the end-all-be-all for consumers and they’re going to choose the most convenient option.

While every remodel is unique incorporating a few standard practices can make each project successful. The store management must be included in the process from the beginning to ensure the store gets what it truly needs. Communication, between store associates and the customer, is of utmost importance to build excitement for what is to come.  Communication also ensures the customer is informed and supported throughout construction. The retail landscape is highly competitive, and retailers are continually looking for opportunities to provide new and expanded services. Construction is an inevitable part of progress and must be thoughtfully accounted for to ensure a positive return on the investment.

About the author:

Scott Brown, Associate, AIA, LEED AP, graduated from Lawrence Technological University with a Master of Architecture degree. Scott has over 14 years of experience in the industry and has been with BRR for ten years. He helps lead a studio of more than 25 team members working on retail remodel projects throughout the country. In addition to being a leader on his team, Scott has been a key voice in enhancing the programs and support BRR offers to professional staff pursuing licensure. He serves as an Architect Licensing Advisor on the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). Email him.