The retail sector can greatly benefit from their flooring choices and installation techniques, which will ultimately influence customer behaviour in a positive manner.

Research suggests that flooring has the ability to affect a consumer’s purchasing decisions. This is why retailers are commissioning architecture and design professionals to help them carefully consider their spaces to ensure they align with the company’s product or service offering.

While lighting and point of sale storage solutions are highly important in the retail environment, floors are now being given a closer look, and are being used as a vehicle for potential sales. Flooring can affect the shopping experience, from its colour and texture to how comfortable it feels underfoot. Cleanliness is also crucial and, if a floor is customised and offers something visually engaging, it could entice consumers to enter that specific store.

Flooring comfort and suitability encourage consumers to prolong their in-store stay. Hard tiles in a luxury fashion store may not align with the soft materials of the garments or be ideal in a baby retail store where a warm ambience is required. In contrast, carpets used in a sports or outdoor store may not serve athletic products such as test bouncing a ball or observing an outdoor furniture display.

According to a study by the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, these examples affect the way customers feel about the product. “The feeling customers get from a store’s flooring can affect how they experience a product, which in turn determines whether they buy it,” the study states.

Beyond comfort, floors can direct consumers to a certain section of the store acting as a navigation tool or promoting in-store advertising. Some retailers choose to install floor decals or project a logo at the entrance to their store, while other floor signage allows retailers to promote in-store events, sales or provide information on a specific product.

While these tactics remain successful, some of the newer flooring applications are a little more subtle in their communication efforts when it comes to reaching their consumers. Webinar panellist Stephanie A. Jones, IIDA interior designer at Bergmeyer Associates Inc, acknowledged a move towards utilising flooring as a platform for visual communication due its customisable attributes, vinyl graphics and digital technologies.

“Flooring contributes to the mood and feel of a space and communicates the brand to the customer,” she says. “It can be seen from outside the store and used to pull someone into the store. The visual communication approach helps the consumer know where they need to stop and thereafter take some kind of action.”

Here Stephanie is referring to the growing trend of retailers creating in-store activities, technology stores placing their products on useable displays, and touch-and-go points to connect the customer to the product. Fellow panellist Jo Rossman, LEED AP ID+C Editor for Retail Environments, has noted an increase in messages being projected onto floors, along with welcome mats. “You don’t want the flooring to compete with the merchandise,” she notes. “Ideally one should install a brand’s signature colours beyond the entrance and extend it to the lease line.”

She adds that floors can also reflect sustainability, noting that many clients will assume a store is “green” if it has wooden flooring, fixtures or vegetation throughout. She encourages businesses to utilise floors to communicate green credentials as this again fosters positive feelings about the product or brand.

To cite one example: flooring decals are affixed just before a fast food counter in Melbourne to detail its latest (and limited) meal offerings. Another example is a supermarket that has placed a shampoo advertisement – detailing its benefits – on the floor in front of the product’s point of sale stand.

In another example, a Canadian store implemented a very clever flooring format. The outdoor store echoes the neutral colours and patterns of a natural setting with a simulated riverbed that weaves its way throughout the store, also featuring slopes and stone boulders. The various flooring finishes create zones which enables the store to differentiate its varying merchandise sections / areas.

This store is a prime example that demonstrates how retailers can affectively maximise flooring not only to create a visually engaging space but also to ensure that products are placed in a ‘divide and conquer’ format.

Acknowledgement and thanks are given to http://sourceable.net for the information contained in this article.