Floor­ing, a re­flec­tion of the brand

VM&RD - - SPECIAL FEATURE – FLOORING - In­puts by: N Jay­alak­shmi, Chanda Kumar & Fairy Dharawat Il­lus­tra­tion by Ro­han Chakravarty

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

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