With changing customers’ preferences, retailers / brand owners are revamping interiors with sleeker and sturdier fit-outs facilitating proper placement / arrangements of products inside the store.
Passing through various phases, the brick & mortar stores are continuously on transformational mode with sleeker & sturdier fit-outs, which does not only segregate the sections for neater placements of the stuff, but also adds to the aesthetics at the same time. Despite rapid strides that the online stores are taking in attracting customers, the existence of brick & mortar stores is expected to continue its reign owing to the unparalleled features which these stores offer. No wonder retailers are using various means to attract customers’ attention and try maintaining the footfall which in-turn will help grabbing sales.
It can be pretty well observed that the bustle of activities in today’s stores are rapidly pursuing the retailers and brand owners to transform the looks and feel so that when customers step-in, they find it convenient to touch and feel the products of their choice. This will, in turn, help the retailers and brands to convert a window shopper into an actual buyer. At a time when retailing is expected to touch new heights, why wouldn’t retailers and brand owners make use of every possible way to make their customers’ shopping experience better!
Modularity is Key
As modularity is slowly becoming a necessity in country’s rapidly expanding retail footprints, customisations are creeping in to define the trend of what retail shop fittings should look forward to. This is further fuelled by elements like digital signage and technology, while introduction of LED in lighting has only been seen aiding to the capacity of retail shop fittings. Together these factors are not only enhancing customers experience but also helping the industry giants to define the trend in times to come.
The industry experts believe that soon customisation would take the centre stage, which will only amplify the modularity and productivity game not only for brands but also for store fit-outs solution providers. Further, new options of developing or manufacturing racks like mix of wood and metal – UPVC and other wood-hydrocarbon-based materials are picking up fast for their durability as well as their unparalleled aesthetic appeal. Standard shop fittings are slowly becoming a thing of the past, and hence, organised and established players are making inroads easily, fortifying the trend even more, adding to the other retail experiences.
Customisation is the New Normal
Most of the players in the industry are either vying for international clientele or exploring ways to attract home-grown bigger brands, which are looking to create or enhance their branding and increase their visibility amidst the rapidly expanding trend of organised retailers. Experts opine that the combined art of modularity and customisation would soon take centre stage as the retail display requirements for each product is different. Moreover, the competition to offer solution in shorter span of time is picking up faster than ever before.
In the meantime, with brands speeding up their network across the geographies, the biggest trend that has been observed in fixture design is that it has been becoming more product-driven and hence customised which earlier was mainly utility-based. Adding further impetus is the introduction of intelligent fixtures integrated with other modern elements, which are slowly gaining momentum. In fact, the brick and mortar stores are still going high against the online stores, wherein the former has an edge over the latter in providing touch and feel experience to its shoppers.
Destined to Grow
While exploring the development in India’s retail shop fitting industry, we came across various articles and industry reports that have been published in the last couple of years – all predict a sustainable growth for the industry in near future. This fact is further cemented if we go with Deloitte Report, which depicts that Indian retail industry is poised to touch a new high i.e., US $1.1 trillion by 2020, following a CAGR of 8.79% over a period of last two decades. This is not only securing the future of India’s retail industry, but also showing way to fit-out suppliers & manufacturers and POP solution providers.
This formidable growth can be attributed to the growing young population of the country, rise in disposable income, change in lifestyle and most importantly, digitisation and connectivity. These factors together have put the Indian retail sector on a growth trajectory which is faster than ever before, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in the world. No wonder, brands are investing heavily in traditional retail despite the growth of online shopping. This shows that the brick & mortar store continues to be the core focus for many brands, which would only escalate the demand for quality shop fitting suppliers and manufacturers.
Physical Presence is Important
Experts believe that the last couple of years were crucial to the country’s rapidly changing retail landscape, which has also increased the role of retail fit-out manufacturers. According to some media reports published recently, the year 2018 witnessed huge investments irrespective of investors being international players or from among the M&As. The year also saw the downsizing of physical stores by traditional players to investing in physical stores by ecommerce players. In short, it was a redefining period for the Indian retail industry which came across notable changes.
While experts continue exchanging views on the relevance and profitability of brick-and-mortar stores, quite a few brands continued investment in physical stores and are only improving the shopping experience for customers. At the same time, the age-old traditional, one-size-fits-all store formats are slowly losing their sheen with more customised concepts of store fit-outs started making inroads. This is also because companies and brands are seriously working towards incorporating creative concepts so as to rejuvenate the look and feel of the stores. This will help them to remain relevant and keep attracting their respective target customers.
Store Helps Create Brand Identity
Notably, every brand has developed its own way of presentation. In order to create an identity, each brand takes different approach when it comes to designing retail outlets thereby changing the store fit-out requirements. For example, a clothing brand store for infants and children keeps its fittings and fixtures at lower height so that kids can come and select what they want. Further, they use popular animated characters all over the store to lure their tiny customers.
In the same way, a sportswear brand prefers to have spacious interior in its exclusive store so that it can accommodate relaxed furniture for seating, while placing minimum products on shelves to offer customers a clutter-free picking up of items. It also uses eye-catching digital signage or display cut-outs of famous sportsperson(s), who can be the ideal for customers stepping in to and hence can work as a very strong influencer in the process of purchase decision making.
Similarly, when it’s a jewellery store, the retail store automatically becomes luxurious in its look and feel owing to the prior perception. Many such stores keep the items covered under glass boxes so that it can remain visible to the customers coming in while keeping them secure at the same time. Some spare space is used for fixing poster(s), signage, etc. featuring female celebrities showcasing the ornamental beauty to grab customers’ attention.
All these are instances where the expertise of shop fitters comes into the picture. The store fit-out manufacturers always play a very important role in building successful retail brands by planning, designing and manufacturing store fit-outs as well as fixtures that reflect the brand’s real ethos. In most of the cases, both the brands and the store-fixture manufacturers work closely to execute a successful branding exercise with their specific designs and ideas for a targeted breed of customers using visual merchandising.
Online Vs Offline
Industry experts opine that amidst the brands continued focus on integrating online and offline shopping for their customers, the concept of experiential stores will keep gaining momentum with rather enhanced importance each passing day. Further, every surge in the online demand will push the numbers up for physical stores so as to help process the online orders. These physical stores will obviously be needed to work as fulfilment centres for the online customers. In some cases, brands working on the principle of buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) provide its online customers with an option to pick up the product from the nearest store.
As brands are finding ways and taking these steps to enhance customers’ shopping experience with engagement, the purpose of physical stores becomes more crucial. This is why brands are expected to regularly invest in store design, interiors, shop fit-outs and new concepts just to differentiate themselves from their competitors. A well-designed, accurately-measured and perfect-fit store fit-out raises a brand’s profile as well as efficacy thereby creates a positive perception about the brand image in the minds of customers. So, there can’t be a denial of secured growth opportunity for shop fitting industry.
The Import Factor
Many international brands have entered into the burgeoning Indian retail industry to grab their chunk of the pie. No doubt, they have come with their own concept of presenting themselves in specific colour and store design; it doesn’t seem viable for them to continue importing their store fit-outs to replicate the look & feel of their international identity. After all, they are in a market which has expanded geography and to cover it widely, they would need local solution providers. So, those with extreme professionalism and expertise are finding their businesses easily.
Moreover, imports need a stock to be maintained here in the local market and hence add extra cost to those international brands. And in case, they want it to import in time of expansion, it may not be viable for them again as it takes longer time than usual. In this scenario as well, they would need some solution providers here in India to feed them for their requirements as and when there comes such a need. Even for national biggies, which consider themselves one amongst the global brands also need services and solutions from an expert local but reliable player.
The Current Scenario
According to Anarock Retail Report, India’s organised retail is growing significantly at a CAGR of 20-25% annually. Similarly, a study by JLL suggests that the country is expected to see the highest mall supply during the three year period from 2018 to 2020, touching 19.4 million square feet. Due to the radical shifts in the consumption pattern of new-age consumers, brands see tremendous untapped potential in small towns and cities including tier II and III cities, they will expand their footprints in these geographies and are expected to continue to invest in physical stores.
When we explored about current market scenario, experts opine that 50% international brands are still importing fixtures especially for their stores in the initial phases. Later they turn to Indian vendors to reproduce designs. Meanwhile, Indian vendors are strengthening their international partnerships and embracing tech-oriented manufacturing. However, full automation is still not available in the fixture industry in India whereas, India still stands out in terms of craftsmanship and expertise. The Indian fit-outs solution providers have also speeded up their delivery time from the existing 45 days to now just about 30 days. Further, after-sales support and long term maintenance are two crucial reasons to choose Indian fit-outs partners.
While organised retail continues to grow in India, the trend of solo entrepreneurs (single-brand retail shop) which have already entered into the market along with small scale traditional retailers (gully shops) who wish to revamp their businesses are also moving on a fast-paced track. Amidst all this, there is a great opportunity for the store fit-outs manufacturers and suppliers as both the formats rely heavily on the overall expertise of these solution providers in retail store design that not only includes store fit-outs but also floor planning, lighting, etc. Together, this will only offer a boost to the store fit-outs makers.
No doubt many brands are downsizing the store formats which may hurt the fit-outs suppliers’ business and profitability, but at the same time there is definitely a significant growth trajectory as more brands are now looking to establish their physical presence by increasing their visibility across various markets. In addition to this, with the new rules regarding single brand retail ownership, many new foreign brands are entering into the Indian market.
Despite all this, it is also a fact that the fit-outs will remain an allied industry of the retail sector. It can only grow with the retailing business, which is slated to ride high and will keep experiencing the boon in time to come. This is because of the ongoing trend wherein brands continue to invest in visual merchandising and store design for grabbing enhanced business through expanded footprints. And they would rely heavily on experienced and quality-focused store fit-out manufacturers as well as solution providers to partner with them.
In totality, the role of these allied industry partners cannot be understated in offering the retail brands the resource and platform to help build their identity, differentiate them from their competitors, and more so to attract footfall in the stores by installing innovative designs and store concepts. Keeping all these in view, the store fit-outs is an important investment for retail brands and when executed properly, it can translate into improved performance, and hence increased toplines. Overall, the outlook for these fit-outs makers is quite positive.
We at Sign & POP World met with a few leading store fit-outs solution providers including Balaji Metal Craft, Propus Inc., West Wind Concepts and Gibam India to know how they are leveraging their innovative ideas to help brands creating an image among their target customers by propagating newer retail design which are now getting integrated with visual merchandising and in-store marketing. Respective interviews are there under the Interview section of the magazine.