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Retail Environments

07.31.2014

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Kicking the Tires
 

Prototyping of new store concepts is not new, but retailers are now seeking more validation at an earlier stage in the process.

In the past, the testing of new retail concepts or elements tended to be secretive, often kept even from the eyes of those who design them. Today, testing is becoming a visible tool to help everyone on the team validate a concept before deploying it. Whether that tool is as elaborate as a fully merchandised, real-scale store mockup or as simple as taped outlines on a warehouse floor, the goal is to create a real-world understanding of the project—during the design process—that can’t be communicated as efectively through drawings alone.

In response, design firms are expanding into the intellectual capital side of the business rather than focusing solely on purely creative capabilities such as

graphics, architecture, and interior design. “Because we’re engaging in the conversation earlier and with a different level of stakeholding in our clients’ organizations, we have become involved in the testing of the concepts,” says Jean-Paul Morresi, partner in creative for Toronto-based Watt International.

Real-scale mockups (whether large or small in scope) can:

Build consensus quickly. As time frames shorten, the democratic nature of physical mockups speeds decision- making, says Ken Gruskin, owner and principal of Gruskin Group in Springfield, N.J. “You don’t need to be an architect or designer; you don’t have to be able to read plans. You simply see it and see whether it looks right or it doesn’t, it feels right or it doesn’t, it works or it doesn’t,” he says.

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