For My Fluffy Friend’s Pet Shop in Vancouver, Canada, MCM Interiors changed a dark lounge into a bright, fresh, and playful environment. PHOTOGRAPHER: Ema Peter
Planning to renovate an existing store or open a new location? The very thought of it can be daunting, but collaboration and communication with your design team are the keys to a successful project, experts say.
Remember, each color, pattern and fixture in your business tells part of the story. If your store has become outdated, you’re unlikely to be creating a positive impression. A business that’s dark, cramped and disorganized does no favors for your customers, their pets, or your staff.
Redesigning can be a seriously big investment and, as something you might only do once a decade, plan carefully and do your best to get it right.
Joanna Felder, a retail design expert who helped do a redesign for PETCO explained that, while pet stores may serve all types of customers, “each pet owner is focused on their own type of animal and expects in-depth knowledge from the store and associates.” The design of your pet store should reflect your industry expertise and knowledge of a wide variety of pets owned by your target clientele.
Take a hard look around your store right now. What does it say about your brand? And is that statement of who you are one you are happy with?
Akar Studios took a colorful, well-lit, visually open approach for its redesign of Healthyspot in Santa Monica, CA.
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Points to Consider When Hiring a Pet Store Designer
When asked about the main thing store owners should remember when doing a store redesign, Sabra Spedilari of Companion Habitats stated store owners should focus on capturing the customer’s attention. Habitats and similar displays should be showcases for the animals, rather than treated simply as storage.
Sat Garg, the principal of Akar Studios, recommends store owners aim for a retail space that is free of clutter and is visually open. This will make it easier for the customer to navigate the store while shopping. Lighting should be a priority as well, because a properly illuminated store creates a mood that is conducive to shopping. Additionally, the use of simple surface materials for retail fixtures and a contrasting color scheme will assist in giving proper definition to products on display. Wall graphics should be part of the overall brand statement, as they attract customer attention. In Akar’s redesign of Healthyspot, the Santa Monica dog specialty store, lead designer Toni O’Donnell was instrumental in establishing a visual look for the brand.
Jim Raspin of Retail Design Associates suggested that pet store owners doing a redesign consult with professional designers who understand retail. Says Raspin: “The designers you work with should know retail, have worked in retail, and know how to design for retail.”
Darcy Kempton of Simply Stunning Spaces, Inc. has worked with major pet retailers like PETCO. She said the main focus should be on making sure pet owners feel the store is safe and comfortable for them and their pets. Pet store owners doing redesigns should note the durability of materials being used as well, because they only last about half as long as you imagine they will. Safety of materials should also be taken into consideration, as should ensuring areas are easy for employees to maintain, yet beautiful enough to impress pets and shoppers. It’s important pet store owners redesign in a way that caters to their specific audience and demographic.
Joanna Felder of Chute Gerdeman says anyone working on a pet store redesign project should be a pet owner themselves. They should also meet customers in the store or in a research setting to hear them talk about their pets. During the redesign for PETCO, Chute Gerdeman did substantial research, including focus groups with pet owners of all types. The No. 1 request all pet owners had was for information – printed information, website information, in-store signage, and employee knowledge – that would help them to be good parents to their pets. Felder’s store redesign “brought to life the passion, love, and devotion people feel for their pets, providing the hands-on information they crave, while sheltering and protecting the live animals who reside in the store.”
Chute Gerdeman’s PETCO store designs are created with the goal of making it easier for pet parents to learn more about caring for their specific type of pet.
What Pet Retailers Say
AmeyZoo Exotic Pets, Bovingdon, England
“When redesigning a pet store, it’s not about how much stock you have. Instead, it’s all about presentation. Your inventory should be presented neatly, and with your best products toward the back of the shop in order to ensure customers pass by less popular items first. Additionally, make sure all products stand out on the shelves. Keep the shelves stocked, but not stuffed to the point of looking messy.
“One of the biggest challenges of a pet store redesign is making things stand out, rather than being crammed onto the shelves.”
AmeyZoo’s last redesign aimed to make things easier for customers by grouping items into clear sections — i.e. all lighting accessories (bulbs, holders, fittings, guards, etc.) together.
The store also redesigned in a way to prevent kids from grabbing at more fragile items. Instead, toys, plush animals, and books are placed at kid level. This cuts down on the risk of things being broken, and serves as a great selling point when kids come in with their parents.
This article originally appeared in the Jan-Feb 2017 edition of PETS+.