Instore - June 2018 - 51
for, even experientially, is super critical to the success of our stores,"
English says. "We'll go in and try to find two or three words that help
define that community. It could be something as simple as the word
'uplift,' or 'soar,' or 'aspirational.' Then we'll design a store that in all
contexts, from the physical point of view, looks like that.
"It all meshes, so when the consumer walks into the store they feel like
they've been there. They get it."
Creating a social space
When it comes to building a comfortable area that invites the
consumer to relax, browse and interact, a little respect can go a long
way, Knab says.
"Instead of big letters on the wall that say 'produce' or 'deli,' you might
see a little more sophistication in the design to reflect those departments," he says. "Shoppers tend to appreciate that touch."
After all, the perimeter really is the opposite of the center store in many
ways. While consumers look for specific items in numbered aisles, the
fresh perimeter provides areas of reprieve and discovery.
"You want them to be able to easily get through departments, but you
also want to design certain areas that disrupt the shopping flow with
something that's interesting," Knab says.
Good design on the perimeter also creates a social space, a vital piece
of the puzzle as millennials continue to age and supermarkets take on
the feel of the food halls that have dominated Europe for years.
"It's a blend between the millennials and the need for socialization.
We're experiencing a generational culture shift," English says. "We're
undergoing the socialization of just about everything, including the
once mundane trip to the supermarket. Just thing about it: you used to
go walk your dog and now you take them to the dog park. You have to
have dog friends. It's totally different now. Everything revolves around
That socialization can be emphasized by the consumer-employee
interaction, especially when it comes to food prep. Shaye advocates
for high-quality jewel box display cases for prepared entrees, allowing
for more transparency and minimizing barriers between the food and
"In prepared foods we think of it as landscaping products in a
prepared foods vase on various trays and platters," he says. "Let the
food tell the story with a little bit of garnish and let that freshness
come through to the guests. They see it right there and it's enticing
enough for them to buy it."
DL English brought the jungle inside when it designed the first Whole
Foods locations in Hawaii.
That can be complemented by eight-to-12-foot areas where guests
are involved with the preparation of the food. "They see you making
things fresh throughout the day and they get involved with that
preparation by customizing the product as you go," Shaye says. "The
supermarket is now competing equally with all quick service restaurants, fast casual, etc. What we're trying to do through design in grocery
stores is create that restaurant experience."
Bringing the inside out
While the majority of your store's design focus understandably falls
within the walls, it's vital to convey that same sense of connection and
familiarity on the exterior.
"The first question I always have on a remodel is have they considered
doing something to the exterior," Knab says. "If you're doing some
updates on the interior, it's a good idea to update the exterior as well."
The exterior is the first recognition of the brand, English says, and the old
adage about first impressions hasn't stuck around this long for no reason.
"The exterior needs to speak to the brand values again and how they
want to go to market," she says. "Do they want to seem more valuedriven or upscale or open or friendly?"
At the same time, English says, don't overlook the simple design point
of clearly identifying your entrance. "From an architectural design
point of view, we try to emphasize where that entrance is, whether it's
with a tower or some sort of structure," she says. "You want them to
understand the space before they walk into the store."
If done correctly, it's the first piece of a puzzle that runs through
the entire store and builds a cohesive, immersive experience that
consumers want to relive regularly.
"I always view design as a thread that's continual. You want it threaded
from the outside of the store, all the way through," Shaye says. "You
want all these things to read the same way. Good design has a relationship where all things are relatable. You're building a lot of points that
have meaning and create an emotional connection."
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