Big box retail stores are a prominent player in retailing all kinds of products, from furniture and home decor to consumer durables, from DIY tools, everyday electronics and gadgets to even clothes.
In urban areas, shoppers favor these 'superstores' as a one-stop destination for a wide range of products. Think Ikea and Costco to Walmart, Home Depot and many more.
The essence of these big box or megastores lies in their convenience and affordability. You may think of them as the antithesis of the typical mom-and-pop store—but in a way, they bring the same convenience and diverse product range—at a very large scale. However, these large-format stores have their own set of unique challenges, too.
Read on as we discuss strategies for big box retail success and how The Look Company's visual engagement solutions transform these enormous spaces to captivate shoppers' imagination and boost sales.
Navigating the Unique Landscape of Big Box Retail
Navigating the landscape of large-format stores requires a keen understanding of why customers shop at these superstores. As a retailer, you choose whether to sell many brands under one roof (a big box retailer) or commit to retailing one or two brands or categories (a specialist retailer). In the same way, a consumer chooses whether to shop at a large-format generalist chain of superstores or a boutique retail showroom.
So, what is a big box store? Let’s look at some of its characteristics:
By definition, your big box store is a large space constructed more or less like a shoe box (literally, that's where the term 'big box' stems from!), covering an area of several thousands of square feet (usually about 50,000 sq ft or above).
Built as one vast expanse of vanilla space, it is up to you as a retailer to design the store's interiors according to your retail strategy, visual merchandising plans, and range of products and brands.
The diverse product range
Unlike a specialist retailer who concentrates on selling a specific category or niche, large-format stores generally retail a wide variety of products and categories—with some, like Ikea, becoming 'specialists' in a wide variety of products! What kind of a range does your store carry?
When customers walk into a megastore, they have preconceived expectations of what they expect to see: a wide variety of categories (maybe within a vertical for brands like Ikea or more general categories like Walmart) and low prices that smaller stores or specialist retailers simply can’t match.
Big Box Retail Challenges: Adapting to Consumer Expectations and Buying Behavior
Most large-format retailers boast of high foot traffic, backed by solid branding and marketing strategies. But despite the space, the product range, and the foot traffic, big box retail comes with a set of challenges.
Consumers are increasingly looking for DIY products, high-demand, quick-buy products or those that can be instantly shipped directly from factories. And they must be at lower prices than those sold at specialist retail stores. Big box retailers must adapt to the changing demands of customers.
Customer behavior is also distinctly different in large-format retail stores.
Some shoppers can get overwhelmed by the sheer choice of products and become unsure of what they finally want to add to their carts. If the store sections are not clearly delineated, shoppers may tend to wander through the aisles exploring more and more sections instead of zeroing in on the products they want to buy.
How can retailers adapt to fast-changing consumer expectations and behaviors?
Store design, floor layouts, and product placement
Design is often an underrated factor in the success of these superstores, but inefficient store layouts and the lack of compelling visual merchandising solutions present a challenge to the vanilla shoe-box style retail spaces. Read more on using TLC's visual engagement solutions to design retail spaces and optimize the in-store experience.
Converting visitors to paying customers
This is one of the main challenges that large-format retailers face. You have the traffic. How do you convert it to sales? If they leave feeling it was not worth the time they spent, they're not likely to come back to the store for the next purchase.
The Look Company has worked with several big box retailers, creating innovative in-store solutions, using modular display systems, lightboxes and visually impactful displays.
The Blueprint of Effective Big Box Store Design
How do you make it easy for customers to find the products they're looking for?
The key is to strike a balance between letting customers quickly find the products they want and encouraging them to explore other products or categories and spend a little longer in the store.
Let’s look at some large-format retail trends and how innovative visual engagement solutions are transforming this unique retail experience.
Crafting seamless store layouts
There's nothing like a good layout to fix the challenges of customer flow through your superstore.
The perfect store layout guides shoppers to well-planned zones within the enormous shop floor. Using TLC's modular display systems, you can create temporary walls and booths, kiosks and stand-alone displays to create well-organized sections for different needs of your target customer. Impulse buy zones at checkout counters are universally effective in boosting last-minute purchases. Strategically placing products is also vital, and the art of retail design lies in balancing shoppers' convenience with a slight nudging to push them toward exploring more sections of the store!
Signage that guides and promotes product discovery
In the vast spaces of a large-format store, you don't want shoppers wandering through the aisles and covering a vast area without finding what they came to buy. This is one store format that doesn’t suffer from lack of space for graphic signage. With high ceilings and ample space above the shelves, all retailers need is strategically placed signage such as fins, toppers and end caps to reinforce their brand’s message and communicate product information.
Wayfinding signage can help guide shoppers to tick off everything on their lists—and then a little more! If you can lead customers to promoted sections, it increases the chances of unplanned purchases or impulse buys.
Immersive visual merchandising displays
Product displays, visual imagery, and large-format immersive graphics play a vital role in creating an ambiance and an experience for shoppers.
In a large-format store, space is not a constraint. Visual merchandisers have the opportunity to use the space above product shelves for informational signage or brand messaging. Wrap around graphics to cover pillars or props, and multi-sensory experiential displays are effective techniques to boost sales in expansive, high-traffic stores.
Use TLC's easily changeable modular display systems to create pop-up store-style graphic displays. Our modular shelving units and partitions are ideal for creating themed displays for seasonal specials or innovative selfie stations. Every bit counts when it comes to converting visitors into customers.
Amplifying brand identity in expansive spaces
Perhaps the most important reason to focus on store design is that the store's look personifies your brand's values and message. Each element of the store's design—such as color, graphics, materials, or signage should tell your brand's story. And all these must come together to create a cohesive brand presence. Easier said than done?
Creative usage of TLC's display solutions, lightboxes, wall coverings and window displays creates a visual impact and enhances brand recall. If you can successfully create a visual narrative, our visual engagement solutions can translate it into an unforgettable brand experience!
The Look Company: Transforming Large-Format Retail Spaces
A well-designed store rewards shoppers with a memorable in-store experience and increases the likelihood that they will return to the same store for their next purchase.
A tailored store design, intuitive store layouts, and thoughtful signage can help retailers overcome the challenges of the large-format retail industry and boost sales.
The Look Company's visual engagement solutions are the perfect way to create maximum impact on the shop floor.