“Creativity is about working around limitations”
By N Jayalakshmi | December 01, 2023
As the retail space evolves, driven by new market requirements and changing shopper behaviour, the key factors are creativity and adaptation, while taking into account cost optimisation. Shravan Suthar, Principal Designer, Shravan Design Company, talks more about this in ‘Retail Talk’ presented in association with Naman In-Store.
At a time when cost optimisation ranks high on the priorities list of retailers, the role of the right solution providers becomes even more critical. This is especially so for store desingers who often have to deal with the challenge of balancing aesthetics and budget for their retail clients. As Shravan Suthar, Principal Designer, Shravan Design Company, tells Retail4Growth in this exclusive conversation, “Today cost optimisation is absolutely important. Cost and design language have to go hand in hand. If a brand plans about 100 stores a year pan India, they obviously have a budget and design language in mind. One can plan a store at Rs 4000 per sq ft or go upto Rs 10,000 per sq ft; it all depends on what the brand wants to convey, the size of the store, the concept etc. So for us designers, the requirement is always for solution providers who can match needs, both in terms of cost and quality, whether it is fixtures, lighting or other solutions. We are therefore constantly looking at newer players in the industry, trying to understand their systems and processes and how they approch cost optimisation.”
He further adds, speaking about solution partners and the expectations from them, “I think most players in the industry today are pretty much sorted, who know what they are doing. Pricing and timely delivery are the two most important factors when we look for the right partners.” This is especially so since, as Shravan says, budgets and time lines continue to be major challenges when it comes to store execution.
Balancing creativity & cost optimisation
So given that budgets and timelines are still major constraints and cost optimisation has become even more critical, how does one deliver without compromising on creativty and design language, especially when there is scale involved? Says Shravan, whose company has many retail projects lined up at any given time, “In terms of balancing cost constraints and creativity, I would say that a creative mind always tries to find ways of workingaround limitations. So if there is a challenge you might as well deliver something better. But if you let the pressureaffect you, then you will not be able to deliver what is needed. At the same time, it’s important for a retail brand to know what design language they want to portray in their stores. Today, a brand cannot be generic, as fashion has become very individualistic. Most brands have a very clearly defined philosophy and target audience. The store has to reflect that in its design.”
Effective use of retail space
For a store to deliver brand objectives also means effective use of retail space. Sharing his observations on this Shravan says, “Over the years, there has been a drastic change in the way retail estate is being used. There is a lot more visual merchandising happening in the stores today, with much more focus on window presentation. The plannning and location of trial rooms is also getting more strategic to match market trends and shopper convenience. So these are things that we as designers are also trying to integrate in our store planning and design. Essentially space optimisation and effective use of utilties have become very important.”
Future of brick and mortar retail
In the context of market trends and shopper behaviour, online retail has certainly gained much traction in recent years, giving tough competition to brick and mortar retail. The need for brick and mortar space to keep evolving itself has thus become even more critical. As Shravan says, addressing the question of whether brick and mortar retail space is under threat by e-commerce, “Online is of course going to grow further. But brick and mortar retail is safe and is here to stay too. After all, a brand’s attitude can be conveyed only through the brick and mortar store space. But it needs to keep evolving.”
Evolving retail space is what the Shravan Design Company is also focused on, even as it expands its horizons. As Shravan sums up, sharing his thoughts on the company’s journey thus far and its plans ahead, “We are working with many projects across India and have a couple of international projects too in the pipeline. We have been very well known in the Indian premium ethnic wear sector and simultaneously we have been working in the jewellery vertical too, with some premium jewellery stores coming up. So I’d say we are in the right time with some exciting times ahead of us.”
Photo credits: Ravi Kanade
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