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Measuring store design success

Updated: Jul 10, 2023


store opening day - Measuring store design success

This week it’s our design industry’s annual awards event. We don’t have a project up for an award this year, but we do take the awards seriously. As a member of the Design Business Association (DBA) we not only recognise the importance of celebrating the success of our peers, we also actively design for success.


“In a rapidly changing and increasingly demanding marketplace, design is a critical source of competitive advantage.” The Design Business Association (DBA)

This quote from the DBA website has never seemed more appropriate. With the current ongoing inflationary pressures facing retailers and their customers, those shoppers who are out and about are being very careful with their discretionary spending.


With the competition for this spending so high, retailers need to develop strategies that raise the bar on the instore ‘experience’ for their customers which will help drive footfall, increase brand recognition, and build loyalty.


After the huge investment in digital since the pandemic, physical stores are finally bouncing back. We see a recognition across the sector that bricks and mortar retail needs to catch up to give consumers the immersive, blended brand experiences they demand today.


Of course, knowing where to focus investment is one thing but having confidence in store design investment decisions is another. Many budgets are stretched since the pandemic and a recent survey* (shared with DBAmembers) shows that 82% of agency clients are feeling pressured to make water-tight cases internally for their design investment projects. Therefore, measuring success is critical, and for our clients this starts with some clear goal setting.


As part of our briefing process for a new project, we encourage clients to set realistic targets against existing metrics. This way, they can make clear comparisons of the ‘before and after’ impact of each design project investment. The metrics we typically recommend are:


  • Turnover & profitability: this is easy to measure before and after a redesign. Equally comparisons to non-redesigned stores can be made for a completely new site.

  • Sales & profit per square metre compared with targets and market trends provide another straightforward measurement.

  • Staff productivity improvements: employing ergonomics in retail design should significantly improve not just productivity but also staff well-being and satisfaction so this is another important outcome to measure.

  • Other important metrics include, increased spend per customer, customer dwell time and satisfaction, and the reach of new target customer groups.


In addition, it’s also essential to overlay the above with any influencing factors for example:


  • Marketing communications: new advertising, marketing or PR activities will have an impact on results so if there’s a new campaign to drive footfall, then it will obviously be influencing the numbers.

  • Location factors: new store sites in new regions may skew outcomes. It’s obviously easier to read the impact of a new store design on an existing site but it is possible to use average results from other similar sites as a comparison.

  • Merchandise changes: new products or services must always be factored into results and can obviously be compared to store sites that have not yet been redesigned.

  • New competitor activity: it’s always important to review if a competitor has had an impact locally. This can work both ways of course - particularly if there is a significant sales event – by either increasing footfall or diverting the usual traffic away.

  • Market changes: with so many influencing factors today, it can be hard to pinpoint these but all the same, it’s important to factor in the obvious ones.


Obviously, it goes without saying that designing the right retail experience is fundamental to the success of any new design investment, and clients trust us as retail designers to help them deliver exciting brand spaces for their customers. But the DBA awards this week not only facilitate the sharing of excellence and best practice across the whole of the design sector, they act as a reminder that by measuring the results of our ‘design effectiveness’ we can give our clients the confidence they need to make design investment decisions in the first place.


* Taken from ‘What Clients Think 2023’ a survey by Up to the Light in association with

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