Elements of Exterior and Interior Store Design

16/11/2021 1 By indiafreenotes

The retail store’s exterior is responsible for attracting the passers by both actual and potential customers to induce them to enter the store. The store’s interior is much more important than the exterior as it welcomes the actual consumer.


New Building versus Existing Facility

The decision to build a new facility or seek existing space is a critical element in exterior design planning. Each option has its advantages. Building allows the retailer to design all aspects of the exterior and interior. However, this option may be limited by location availability, time, or cost. Buying, renting, or leasing existing space has the advantage of being much quicker, may offer the advantage of a superior location and may be less expensive. However, a retailer is often limited in what can be done with regard to design issues. It is often the case where major renovations of existing space are as expensive as building from the ground up.

Colour and Materials

The exterior colour texture of a store gives a lasting first impression to the consumer. Often, this will be the first and sometimes the only thing a customer sees of a store. It is important that the exterior look and “Feel” right to the shopper. The colours and material should express the image of the store.  Today’s retailers are increasingly using textured building materials (brick, rough-sawn wood, and so on) at the store entrance to give a pleasant feeling to the facade.   Steel buildings tend to create an impression of strength, whereas glass tends to create an altogether different impression, usually of a more modern store. Concrete or bock can contribute to the overall image of low cost or value. Brick may create a more upscale feeling.


The main purpose of windows is to attract attention and create an image to potential customers standing outside. Humour, theatrical flair, colour, motion, or sound playing outside the windows work well to increase the effectiveness of the display. One of the biggest advantages of display windows is the ability to dramatically affect the exterior of the store. Most of the exterior requires major renovations to change. A retailer can take advantage of its window space to reflect changes in the store’s offerings on a seasonal or monthly basis. The window displays project the image of the store. While one story may be trying to say “Quality” in its windows by showing specific brands or fashions, other stores may use window displays to project a low price or value image.  Regardless of whether it is a children’s store, a sporting goods store, or a home furnishings store, the window display is often one of the first efforts to communicate with customers and invite them. Window design is a function of the physical design of the store, and not something specifically requested by the retail manager or merchandising designer.

Store Name

Although not strictly related to external design, the choice of a store name does have an effect on the overall store image. The favourable or unfavourable image generated by the use of a name can enhance or negate the style set by store design.

At first glance, choosing a name for the business may seem to be a rather easy task. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The retailer who thought of the name Equ-ulus for a small gift shop certainly made a mistake. This name is not pronounceable, and it has little meant for the majority of the customers to whom the store is appealing. Often it is desirable that the name sound not only attractive but prestigious. Certainly, it must fit the type of store. For example, Budget Weddings was chosen as the name of store that provided package services for brides. It failed because brides-to-be did not like the mental picture of a truck with that store name pulling up to the church and the reception hall. They liked the low price but were embarrassed by the name.

Multilevel Stores

Because of the need for increased parking space in relation to shopping area in suburban stores and shopping centers, the multiple-level store is especially appealing to retailers. Even super markets have experimented with this type of design. Properly carried out, a multilevel facility offers the merchant a means of both expanding the selling area separating areas from one another. It also gives an overall feeling is that of “pulling people” though the store. Careful attention has to be paid to which merchandise is in high demand so that it can be placed on the upper levels. In the process of seeking, it our customers will move through the store. Putting a restaurant on the top level, for example, helps this pulling process.


Recognizing the importance of the exterior, retailers have become very competitive in their designs. Unfortunately, this has often led to many areas looking like a war zone of competing colours, signs, shapes, and sounds. Both property owners and governments alike have taken steps to ensure that consumers are not assaulted by on overwhelming number of stimuli.

  • Building codes. Most cities have building codes for businesses; often many are directed at retailers. These serve several purposes. First, they protect the public. Fire codes and safety regulations are examples. Some codes include sign ordinances that try to create some kind of visual harmony. Second, they ensure equal access to shopping for those with disabilities; and third, they reflect the community’s attitude with regard to appearance. For example, many towns recognize the need of retailers to promote their business through the use of signs. However, for aesthetic purposes, they have limited or abolished signs in particular areas.
  • Lease requirements. Many property owners require retailers that lease their space to adhere to certain rules regarding store design. These rules serve two purposes. First, they assure the owner that property will be maintained good condition; and second, they ensure that the surrounding property does not lose value. For example, most malls require that signs be certain sizes and often limit the use of intense light.
  • Theme areas. Theme areas are those in which buildings must meet structural requirements that fit a certain theme. Many downtown areas are implementing very strict building codes that allow businesses to stay only if they fit with the atmosphere the area is trying to create.


Effective use of signs identifies the nature of the business, build a corporate identity, communicates an image, ties the company to its advertising  through the use of a logo, and attracts to the store.  The most common signage is in plastic-based materials despite the relatively high cost. Companies find that effective signs have individual letters that are coated in tough plastics and illuminated from within by neon tubes. This type of sign has advantages because it uses 15 to 20 percent less energy than other lighted signs and has an extremely long life. Stores desiring a very contemporary look may use exposed tubes; small strip shopping centers may use hand crafted wooden signs to maintain a low profile. Backlight signs offer a slightly more expensive possibility. Instead of the light splashing out of the front of the letter, it washes the wall with a silhouette. Mall tenants may be limited in the type and size of their sign management rules. Signs from materials such as wood or metal that have direct lighting can be used to create different images from luxury to country. However, plastic technology today allows the creation of nearby and look.

Exterior walls and signs.  Many retailers use the exterior wall space to promote their store. Painting the name and logo of a business on the exterior is often less expensive than having a custom-made sign. Examples of this vary from a simple, elegant script indicating the name of the store to more exotic art that includes not only the name but also pictures. It artwork is used on the exterior of the building, it must conform to the principles of design, appeal to the customer base, and be integrated with the rest of the architecture.

Store Entrance

One of the first and most striking impressions customers get of a store is the one they receive as they go through the front door. An entrance should be more than a device to keep people out of the store, to encourage them to come in, or to protect against the elements. An entrance should have character, and it should say to prospective customer, “Please come through the door where you will be treated with courtesy and friendliness and served to the best of our ability.”  The entrance might be graceful and elegant or dull and functional; in any case, it should be compatible with the store design and provide an easy way to enter.

Interior Store Design


Display an important role in a retail store. An attractive and informative display can help sell gods. Poorly designed displays can ruin the store’s atmosphere and center an uncomfortable setting. Since displays often take up premium space with in the store, they carry a heavy burden of productivity in terms of creating sales. There are several principals of rules of displays that help ensure their effectiveness:

  • Balance. In building a display, it is important to make sure that it appears balanced to the viewer. This is achieved by arranging products in a symmetric manner. Displays may have formal or informal balance. Formal balance is achieved by placing similar items equal distance from the center. Informal balance is achieved by placing different sized goods or objects away from the center based on their relative size.
  • Dominance.  All displays should have a central point that will attract the viewer’s eye. The point may be achieved by using prominent piece of merchandise, such as a diamond pendant, using dramatic colours, such as a bright scarf, or using streamers arranged toward the center of the display.
  • Eye Movement. Displays should direct the eyes away from the point of dominance in a systematic fashion, instead of encouraging them to jump from one end to the other. If the viewer’s eyes move indiscriminately around the display, the shopper will miss some of the merchandise and will not get the full message intended.
  • Gradation. The gradation is the sequence in which items are arranged. For example, small items are usually placed at the front of the display, medium items father back, and large items at the rear. The creates harmony and an appealing illusion.
  • Height of Merchandise. Merchandise that has the greatest effect should be placed at the eye level of the customer. Because viewers tend to look straight ahead, merchandise placed at eyes level is most likely to be seen.
  • Grouping Merchandise. Too many retailers place one item after another in a long row. Shoe stores, jewellery stores, and mass merchandisers tend to do this. Stores with large amounts of one item or with one line of goods are likely to build longer displays. Instead of creating long displays where the customer has problems picking out merchandise, retailers should group items so that the customer’s eyes cannot travel from group to group but stop and focus on particular products.
  • Sales appeal. Displays should always show the best merchandise that the retailer has to offer.

Keeping it Simple. Since displays take up a great deal valuable space, there is a tendency to get as much into them as possible. While the idea of more is better may be true for chocolate, it is not true for displays. Too many items in a display district and confuse the consumer, and they tend to create an atmosphere of chaos or congestion.


The psychological effect of colour continues to be important to retailers.  Colour is also important in ware house type stores because of the vast open area of the interior.  Bold colours are frequently used to highlight merchandise sections or departments and to reduce attention to what is typically an open girder ceiling.  Clearly, intelligent use of colour is important in store design. Since people are drawn to warm colours, yellow and red can help draw customers into the store through the entrance. Cool colours such as blues and greens tend to calm people and are useful in areas where customers need time to deliberate over the purchase decision.


Ceilings represent a potentially important element interior design. In older stores, ceilings of twelve to sixteen feet are still common, but most department store ceilings are now in the nine-to-ten-foot range. Remember, the higher the ceiling, the more space to heat and cool at increasing energy rates. Ceiling heights are becoming much less standardized within stores. Designers are making use of varied ceiling drops to create distinct for different departments within a store.


Proper lighting is one of the most important considerations in retail design. At one point in time the function of lighting was to provide customers with a means of finding their way through the store. Today, lighting has become a display medium. It is an integral part of the store’s interior and exterior design. Lighting should match the mood retailer is attempting to create with the rest of the store decor and should complement, rather than detract from, the merchandise.


Retailers are taking a sophisticated “return investment” approach to flooring decisions. Firms are willing to pay higher-up-front installation costs for more expensive materials if they see a return in greater durability and reduced maintenance expenses.  Flooring choices are important because the coverings can be used to separate departments, muffle noise in high traffic areas, and strengthen the store image. The range of choices for floor coverings is endless: Carpeting, wood, terrazzo, quarry tile, and vinyl composition all have applications in different settings.