January 22, 2015
From aesthetics to flow, store design can make or break your customers’ shopping experience.
By Brad Perkins, Contributing Editor
Aesthetics. Interior design. Customer flow. Those terms aren’t necessarily the first thoughts that come to mind when discussing convenience stores. But, increasingly, these are items that c-stores are considering when designing new stores.
Whether it’s helping customers get in and out quickly, displaying products or conserving energy and costs, convenience stores must make choices that benefit the bottom line while making stores into desirable destinations for customers.
At Hub Convenience Stores, a North Dakota-based chain that opened its first stores last year, the design of new stores went hand-in-hand with the company’s objectives.
“When it came time to address the interior design of our new convenience concept I felt it was important to accomplish two main objectives,” said Jared Scheeler, president of Hub Convenience Stores. “I wanted our customers to walk in the door the first time and say ‘Wow’; and I wanted the design and the identity it gave us to reflect the quality of our business.”
Scheeler’s vision combined a desire to provide quality, branded food with the desire to create flexible designs tailored to each location’s needs.
“As an establishment that puts a great focus on foodservice, it’s critical that the image of the company and of the building reflects the quality that we want perceived in our food,” he said. “This includes the interior design and branding of the building, the equipment used to serve the food and the merchandising used to help sell the food.”
Designing for customers is important. Whether it’s ensuring a positive experience at the pump or register or building out a store layout that combines safety for the store and employees and efficient customer flow, considering the way customers walk through the store and how easily they can find merchandise is a key objective.
It’s not enough, Scheeler said, to “choose an upscale paint color, a casework laminate, and a countertop and call it a ‘design’.” Instead, c-stores should mull aesthetics: how the store looks and feels to customers. For Scheeler, that meant hiring a design firm to create plans from his ideas.
“Because this was such an important element of our new business, we felt that we’d best be served by hiring someone who specializes in these areas,” Scheeler said. “We chose Paragon Solutions and its designers were able to quickly bring all of my vague ideas to life. I wanted our stores to have an identity and that’s exactly what they gave us.”
In addition to brand identity, many convenience stores consider the environment and energy costs when designing or redesigning.
“We want to be good neighbors and corporate citizens, so we try to look at our new builds and rebuilds holistically—how can we impact each location as little as possible from an environmental standpoint,” said Sara Kurovski, manager of sustainability for Kum & Go. “There are always new opportunities for continuous improvement, with ever changing technology and opportunities.”