Revitalising your shop on a shoestring

A few years ago, there was a rule of thumb that stated that you should give your customers and yourself a renovation about every seven years so as to come across as fresh and competent and to stay on the ball. In those days, there was also a season, a Christmas bonus and you bought your shoes after you'd actually tried on them and not just after "clicking"...

Revitalisation: a fountain of youth for your business

A few years ago, there was a rule of thumb that stated that you should give your customers and yourself a conversion about every seven years so as to come across as fresh and competent and to stay on the ball. In those days, there was also a season, a Christmas bonus and you bought your shoes after you'd actually tried on them and not just after "clicking"... The times, it seems, are a-changing fast; customers are becoming more digital and critical; margins are becoming lower; and the topicality of some products is already changing on a weekly basis (is anyone still buying fidget spinners?). If you had to change the way your shop looked at the same rate, you'd have to renovate every few months. But from an ecological and economic point of view, this would be complete nonsense. Nevertheless, with a little bit of gumption, you can always keep your business looking fresh and vibrant. Let us tell you how.

It's not the investment budget but the right story that can make your business interesting. In brief: stage manage your shop. When we think of theatres, circuses or similar events, then we know that even with a manageable and finely calculated sum of money, you can create some impressive staging. Pop-up stores offering a great experience and a "wow factor" are effective examples of the shopfittings of the future, because they also come with a well-presorted and curated selection of products. The benefit of this? Instead of negative stress and a time-wasting sensory overload, the customer gets a special feeling of appreciation and the products shown can thus delight all their senses and create a lasting impression.

Low budget as a shopfitting trend

The demand for low-budget concepts in the shopfitting sector has recently increased not only in view of the financial aspects; there are also ecological, economic and traditional reasons in favour of this trend: respectfully preserving, re-integrating and re-interpreting old and proven aspects. You don't always have to rip out absolutely everything. The way we handle our existing resources should be done on a more sustainable basis – which benefits our environment and our wallet. Lovingly renovated and decorated old furniture definitely makes a better impact than some expensive but dead shopfitting system.

In the right light

The most important thing that can make your shop look new is the skilful use of lighting: the secret here lies in quality rather than quantity. Don't settle for a foggy lighting effect with energy-saving lamps. They may seem reasonably bright, but your goods will appear cheaper than their price...and that's when you have a problem.

Better a few spotlights, but with greater efficiency (e.g. LEDs) and colour brilliance (CRI value higher than 90% – the corresponding value is on each bulb). In any event, your eye and your gut prefer three-dimensional and fresh-looking products – that is to say when colours, contours and textures are emphasised by light and shadow, rather than appearing flat and pale.

Get out your ladder, put on your gloves (be careful with hot bulbs!) and check each lamp. Replace broken bulbs and then aim the spotlights at the goods, special promotions, advertising materials and wall boundary surfaces. You may notice that some spotlights can even be rotated and pivoted and either shine on unused corners or, at worst, dazzle customers. The seemingly "new" light will be a revelation. Correctly and purposefully adjusted lighting gives you the chance to transform your space almost effortlessly and to put goods into the correct light again. Create pools of light, dare to take advantage of light and dark contrasts, enjoy the pleasure of staging your sales space like a great maestro. A few hand movements and the result can seem like nothing short of a miracle.

Out with the chaos – and in with order

Get rid of everything that has nothing to do with selling. Think about all the products that have been slumbering on your shelves for several years and whose surfaces have already got a fine coating of dust. Put them on special offer for a week and get rid of them. Make space for fresh and new things. And please also get rid of any unnecessary advertising posters, yellowed photos, often damaged, often a bit "offbeat because there cheeky" or stuck at different heights, too small and illegible. Likewise, faded and dusty plastic flowers or similar accessories have nothing to do in a shop. Only at a funeral home. They make the place look frivolous, often confusing, incompetent and unprofessional. Free your shop of dust and everything that's unnecessary. You'll gain a clear view of the shop, order, cleanliness, light and air and everything will look better. Your gaze will once again be able focus on the goods, with no distractions. Your shop will not only look as though it's been liberated but sometimes even as though it's been freshly renovated. And if there is still room left, treat yourself to an espresso machine or a welcoming lounge with a wing chair and a standard lamp.

The next stage: a fresh lick of paint

"Colour is the poetry of a room" and effectively influences the ambience of your shop – because it's mostly large areas that are affected by colour. Paint is also the cheapest and easiest way to give a room a completely new appearance. Dare to do it; be bold! With a coordinated colour concept, you can introduce moods and emotions into your shop. At present, warm and light shades of grey are very much in fashion. Everything is then rounded off with an intensely or darker painted wall or even graphic wallpaper. Eyecatching and mood-enhancing. The decisive advantage is that coordination of themes and colours gives your facelift a professional look.

Pepping up furniture

Furniture is often the most elaborate and so the most expensive item when a sales space is getting a facelift. The question of whether existing furniture can actually still be used often remains unasked. As a result, outmoded display systems, cash desks and tables simply find their way to the junk yard.

But a little bit of courage and creativity would save so many, still functional fixtures or counters and put them back into the right spotlight. Give them a fresh look with new handles, fittings, veneers, colours. Have jammed pull-out parts seen to by a specialist, replace a completely worn worktop with a new counter or even give the surface a new creative shine with well-adhering paints. The ideas are varied, and in some cases can even be done by you yourself – saving yourself the costs of the dismantling, disposal and new installation work plus delivery, etc.

Vintage or beach bar style?

As already mentioned, the story and atmosphere count. No wonder that many successful shops feel a bit like a home from home: velvety lounge chairs, a cosy decorative fireplace, a standard lamp, a fluffy carpet, casual vintage furniture, a cool sound and a staged corner for taking the ideal Instagram selfie. No matter whether you go for beach-club, Asian lounge or old classroom style, there are plenty of inspirations and ideas. Be bold! And the right recipe is very simple, consisting, as it does, of a mere three words: JUST DO IT!

About the author:

Stefan Suchanek is an aesthete, retail designer, consultant, speaker and lecturer in visual rhetorics, presentation and reasoning at the AMD Academy for Fashion & Design in Munich. He draws his expertise from knowledge of traditional design theory, evolutionary biology and brain science to design more interactive, intelligent and mindful business spaces and showrooms: spaces which bring forth a positive response, value people and boost sales by creating a lasting feeling of well-being through meaning and sensuality.