How To Design Your Retail Space For Maximum Reward

How To Design Your Retail Space For Maximum Reward



So now you’re the proud owner of a retail space or an office space. Congratulations, you’re on your journey of running a business. I have to warn you though, that from now on you will always have fixed overheads. That means every morning when you open your doors, you’re working from a deficit.

It’s easy to forget this and only remember it closer to month-end when you get your first lease invoice. The ideal is to run your business as if you get that invoice every morning, and at the close of every day you see how far off you are from paying it.

The right environment

So how do you make your space work for you? I will focus on retail space as that’s where my experience lies, but keep in mind that many of the same principles would apply for an office space.

Related: 8 Shopping Habits Of Millennials All Retailers Need To Know About

Kitting up a retail space is a mission. I would highly recommend investing in an interior designer. In the restaurant business, this is a necessity. A restaurant is arranged in distinct departments: Front of house and back of house. The back of house is the engine of the restaurant. It’s the kitchen.

When you design a restaurant the kitchen requires its own design and flow maps. Depending on what kind of restaurant it is, and the equipment you need, the kitchen may be the most expensive per square metre in set up costs. Also, your designer needs to spend a lot of time working out the flow of people and operations within the kitchen to ensure optimal efficiency. An office space would follow similar principles.

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The front of house in a restaurant accommodates your guest services, including tables and seating, bar, outdoor, bathrooms and parking. More work in design happens here. You start with a mood board that talks to the tone, feel, and type of restaurant you’re going for. Is it a modern, rustic or themed restaurant. What genre: Italian, Japanese or African?

Again, the mood of your office space is also important for overall productivity, and what you want to project to clients entering your space.

A great experience


Spend time on the restaurant flow — how customers will use the space. If it’s an office, how will staff and clients use the space? I would also recommend doing an experience map, which speaks to all the senses the customer will experience before and after they enter your establishment.

  • What do they see before and when they arrive at your establishment?
  • Can they see your establishment from far?
  • Can they park easily?
  • When they enter the establishment, what do they smell?
  • Does it smell like coffee or cooking oil?
  • When they’re eating your food, do they enjoy it?
  • Is there a theatre of food?
  • Most importantly, what do they hear? Is the music congruent with the business and is it at the right volume?

Related: 3 Ways Retailers Should Accommodate the Mobile-obsessed Customer

Layering is another crucial area in retail. This is the pictures on the wall, table talkers, place mats, condiment holders and uniforms. Layering makes your establishment feel like a warm and comfortable space to be in.

Bathrooms are often overlooked, but trust me when I tell you that you get judged by your bathrooms. So layering should include bathrooms that use good quality toilet paper. A lot of the success of a space lies in the detail. This doesn’t need to be expensive. It just needs to be well thought out.

Key Learnings

  • Design is important and speaks to the look of the establishment
  • Layering speaks to the feel of the establishment and focuses on all five senses.
  • Design, layering, food, and service should give the consumer a great experience.
  • You are judged by your bathrooms.
Miles Khubeka
Miles Kubheka is a trailblazing public speaker, Vuyopreneur and gastronomist. He is the founder, owner, and believer behind the renowned Vuyo’s brand.

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