Flooring, a reflection of the brand
Flooring is an integral part of a store ambience and significantly impacts the brand experience. For different retail formats flooring has different objectives. Some obvious functional ones are durability, safety and ease of maintenance. Design objectives are traditionally to enhance visual appeal of the store presentation with customized patterns, inlays , textures etc.. Lately innovations have led flooring material to integrate with electronics and digital imaging. Digital screens embedded in the flooring, LED lighting infused flooring, carpets woven with fiber optics are available for brands and retailers to create experiential retail environments. The economic conditions of the market place have had retailer s look at highly retrofit models of store-fits to enable low cost relocation, resizing or reconfiguring. To address this need flooring manufacturing companies have innovated in the engineering of flooring installations.. This has made available flooring material that can be fitted with temporary adhesive and velcro. This also allows designers to change flooring easily to suit new store design concept recommendations. Traditionally, in the retail context floor covering are basically two types- permanent
floor covering like stone, tiles and epoxy and over-lays like parquet wooden, vinyl, carpets etc. that are laid on the permanent flooring and changed when required , usually by brand shop-in-shops fitted out in a mother store. A well planned, designed and installed floor does impact the brand experience. In hypermarkets an in situ ( poured and hardened) color stained polished cement that is shopping trolley wear resistant and easy to maintain will help deliver customer delight. In contrast a high-end jeweller would invest in a complex Italian marble inlay flooring that plays the role of providing a luxurious setting for the very special and expensive merchandise. Research has shown that the look and feel of a store can actually influence the amount of time a customer spends browsing and even the urge to purchase and thus definitely influence the store’s profitability and success. As a leading US based retail group’s creative director says in one of her columns, flooring is one of the most crucial aspects in creating the right mood for the retailer. In fact, most retail heads agree that flooring goes a long way in creating a different experience for the customer leading to greater customer loyalty. VM&RD brings to you thoughts and opinions from all the stakeholders who create the retail environment – retailers, brands, designers and manufacturers. Read on to know and learn from their experiences put together in the next few pages.
We begin with the RETAILERS and
BRANDS. What are their needs , experiences and challenges? Let’s hear it from them …….
Kaushik Thangamani, Architect – Store Planning – Levi’s® INDIA
Flooring is an important tool to depict the brand character and therefore it plays an
important role in store design. It also helps to demarcate the spaces/ products. However availability of quality products & good workmanship, limitations in s t ocking t he materials as there’s wide range available in the market etc are some challenges. Flooring being a key element of store experience has to compliment with fixture furniture’s.
Example: For our New format stores at New Delhi/ Bangalore, we have used concrete flooring to best compliment with the wooden wall displays & floor units which helps the customers get a visual break and creates a soothing ambience. Budgeting for flooring completely depends on the store design; however the cost cannot be substantial, when deriving the overall cost and ideally, 5-6% will help in roll outs.
Mangesh Vyawahare, VP-Design & Development, Aditya Birla Retail
We are in the Hyper Market business and correct flooring does play a very important role. Unlike Lifestyle format, Hyper markets retail floors have too much traffic ( both customers and material handling) to withstand and hence are built and manufactured to specific needs.
While Retail / Trading area floors are designed differently, backend floors are designed for higher abrasion and hygiene standards. Hence in both floor types, practical approach is prime and aesthetics comes second. As mentioned earlier, these floors are manufactured with specific needs and they are never available off the shelf. In fact very few manufactures produce this standard of tiles and hence it always remains as a challenge for availability, cost and quality.
In food business, broken or stained floor have a very negative impact on shopping experience apart from the hygiene standards. Hence selection of correct flooring material, appropriate application (laying) and maintenance is extremely important. The cost of flooring is a derivative of size of store and cost of floor hence budgeted accordingly.
Sudhir Soundalgekar, Customer Care Associate & Head –Lifestyle & Specialty Projects, Shoppers Stop Ltd
The flooring creates the first impression for the customers and hence plays an important role to enjoy a better traffic flow. Choosing the right flooring can influence other décor and set the base of any s t or e desi gn scheme. The flooring should be tough enough for maximum use and sustainable enough carry to human traffic, fixture i nstallations, knocks, spills, etc. Most widely used floorings are vitrified tiles which are extremely hard & long lasting. We can satisfy any designer’s dreams of having any decorative, high end flooring combinations as Indian suppliers show keen interest in exploring newer materials from international markets as well. There are many varieties of floorings available in market. However sometime we need to do random checks through certified laboratories on the quality of the product. As
purchasing a cheap flooring may save you money initially but it will not last long, looking worn before its time.
Depending on the customer’s requirement of a particular shopping experience e.g. footwear, denims, kids sections, sportswear, high end merchandize areas; designers offer variety of flooring options. These can be wooden, carpets, vitrified, ceramic, marble, etc. as those definitely have effect on customers’ comfort of time spent in that area. Some of these floors create a sense of warmth and comfort, some create a feeling of luxury retail & some are purely functional.
Flooring should be considered as a long term investment and luckily Indian markets offer a number of options to suit all levels of budget. Once it’s decided which flooring is required one should always choose the best quality that can be afforded. Arun Murthy, Group ManagerVan Heusen -Projects.
Flooring plays an imperative role in store design. the floor reflects the Brand it represents. It should bring about the rich, premium look and feel and ensure that the customer is comfortable at all times during his visit to the store. Flooring is more or less largely available in tile, ceramic, granite, marble and wooden flooring in India. The flooring we look for should be durable, stainresistant, and make an impact on the overall store experience.
However, designer flooring is still rare and needs to be imported. Some of the finishes that are available internationally are still scarce in India which is a challenge that still exists. Materials that are imported are costly , and the concern still remains on buying this in bulk , though the requirement is still less. We have done our studies and have observed that the customer gets that "wow feel" on entering the store from the glossy or rustic look and feel of the flooring. For example, wooden flooring would add a sense of warmth to sections, carpets in trial rooms would make the customer more comfortable and cozy, marble gives that rich feel etc.
We plan for flooring that goes with the brand identity, is durable, available across the country and which fits in the budget of the store reasonably.
Surender Gnanaolivu, Executive Vice President- Brand Experience & Store Development, Mahindra Retail Pvt Ltd
Flooring is a very important component of store experience for our TG who are in the minus nine (maternity) to the plus nine (mothers & kids) segment.
Its foremost objective is to provide a functionally safe and secure environment for our customers.
We give a lot of attention to this in the retail area, the rest rooms (semi gloss nonskid) , the trial cum feeding rooms (parquet overlay to provide a warm floor for the bare feet) and in the play area (non toxic organic colored overlay material). The design objective of the flooring is to provide a clean and contemporary backdrop for a medium density merchandise presentation and hence the basic white colored vitrified tiles . To keep our commitment to sustainable store design we prefer Nitco LEED certified ecofriendly range of tiles. Incidentally the selection of this color for our store concept also allows us to take over semi-built sites in malls where the space is provided with flooring pre-laid. One big challenge has been the physical variance in size and color (between different lots) when required for replacing worn out / damaged tiles after a period of operating the store. This needs some proactive logistics and planning at the time of building the new store. These testimonies from Retailers and Brands summarize with good clarity that a suitable flooring material needs to satisfy different objectives like functional, design, environmental and maintenance to be a meaningful part of the store concept and significantly influence a delightful brand experience