Summer 2018
The Power of Focal Points in Store Design By Gretchen Kroll

Brick-and-mortar stores have one prominent competitive advantage over the quick-click sale. They have the capacity to engage and direct customers through thoughtful and expressive displays. Understanding the influence of powerful environments and designing a focal point that intrigues customers the moment they walk in is an imperative principal to assess.

Focal points are central points or areas of attraction. Studies have confirmed that individuals interpret the visual elements of our environments in similar ways and gravitate toward the same pattern. The start and stopping points of these patterns are especially important to understand while designing your display. When you walk into a room, take notice of what you see first; is it the beautiful window, the flowers on the table, maybe the back of a chair? Every individual’s eyes will traditionally follow the same pattern to digest a room, one scene at a time. While the overall design blends into a big picture, exploiting a focal point is imperative as it sets a precedent for the overall experience.

The key to a well-designed retail space, is understanding where that focal point is and creating an area that radiates your desired first impression. While we may become immune to the focal points of our own environment, I can assure you that others will not. Within the first few seconds of entering a store, customers have already started making judgment calls about their experience. It is tremendously valuable to create a welcoming setting that intrigues and entertains your customers in those first moments. Make certain that the primary focal area generates an ambiance that fascinates your consumers and invites them deeper into the store.

Finding the focal point of a store is simple as it is the prime visual that greets you. When entering the front door, it is either the area directly in front of you or slightly to the right. Our society is right gravitated, and eyes naturally scan to the right. It is here that you should establish your most daring first impressions.

When you’ve located the focal point, you can begin your approach to creating a vignette of enticing and entertaining product pulled together though color, theme and design. It is from this nucleus that you build the ambiance of your store that will generate an exciting first impression.

Encourage your customer to look up when creating the focal point. Our eyes immediately gravitate to high points while glancing at a display. Building on top of tables or hanging merchandise and visual displays from the ceiling create height. Layer a variety of smaller tables, ladders or chairs on your table to create elevation while prominently displaying your most eye-catching merchandise at the top, treating it like a magnificent crown. Multi-level displays draw attention, maximize retail space and allow customers eyes to gently flow through product.  Populate the levels beneath with similar coordinating merchandise at lower price points. The spectacle will lure customers in and they’ll stay to browse the related products below.

Keeping a cohesive focal point is paramount to success. Communicate a theme or story within your visual display that reminds your customer of fond places and memories that tug at the heart. Keep textures and colors consistent within the display to create visual impact for both the store and the customer.

It is advised that you create a neat and organized display to keep the thoughtful message clear. This is achieved through grouping product or using beautiful bins to keep smaller items together. Leave open areas of space in your environment to help customers interpret all the information.

Consumers prefer displays that embody order and harmony. Keeping a display visually balanced is important. You can achieve a sense of equilibrium by incorporating symmetry and coordinating creative accessories and color to harmonize products and themes. These pleasing displays offer positive first impressions with the careful placement of product. Revising this area at least once a month is encouraged, as you want to intrigue your customer each time they enter.

As you stand approvingly at your designed focal point, think about the store traffic patterns and glance to the left; it’s time to create another engaging area.

Gretchen Kroll

Gretchen Kroll is the Vice President of Tripar International, Inc. “I am such a firm believer in the power of a store’s environment and its role in the ever-changing channels of distribution,” she says. “Retail is not going away - it is evolving - and creating a beautiful store is imperative for success.”

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