Incorporating greenery is one approach to adopting a sustainable store design.
There are many different approaches when it comes to retail design. The right design conveys a brand’s story and creates an immersive shopping experience for customers. In recent years, building an inviting in-store experience has become an increasingly vital component in retail, as the right environment can help brands to forge emotional connections with their customers, increasing customer dwell time and the feel-good factor.
Weaving sustainability into retail design is one approach to creating memorable in-store experiences. For instance, adopting a biophilic approach by integrating the natural environment within a space is proven to create positive emotions, reduce stress and increase social interactions, and fosters comfort and calmness amongst other benefits. This creates a positive and welcoming in-store experience for shoppers.
Over the past few years, an increasing number of companies in Singapore have been adopting greener practices to align with changing consumer preferences. According to a by American multinational tech company IBM, consumers of all ages expressed that sustainability and environmental attributes are significant considerations when selecting brands. Nearly six in 10 consumers are willing to change their purchasing habits to reduce their environmental impact, while over seven in 10 say that it is important that brands are sustainable and environmentally responsible.
In retail design, more tenants are installing green fittings like energy-efficient lighting and water-efficient taps. Some local supermarkets in Singapore like NTUC and Cold Storage are also advocating for “Green Mark1” principles as part of their store planning strategies.
What is sustainable store design?
When designing a sustainable store, considerations go beyond the usual brick and mortar. Tenants are encouraged to consider the supply chain, the built environment, and the process for disposing materials. Material sourcing, choice of fixtures, and repurposing of spaces must also be planned for, to ensure a sustainable store design.
For tenants who are new to this concept, Frasers Property Retail’s retail design guidelines include a section on green mark initiatives to educate tenants on green practices. This green initiative was first included by Frasers Property Retail's Retail Design team back when the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) introduced the Green Mark award for commercial buildings.
“Part of the Retail Design team’s job is to help tenants create a retail space where their customers can connect emotionally with the brand through the design of their store. While doing so, we weave in the subject of sustainability and share how having a sustainable store design benefits them in the long run in terms of cost and brand loyalty,” says Angela Ng, Head of Retail Design Management at Frasers Property Retail.
While individual tenants have their own selections, materials, they are encouraged to select Green Label products certified under Singapore Green Labelling Scheme (SGLS) or Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC).
To educate and encourage tenants to adopt sustainable store designs, the Retail Design team put together relevant green mark guidelines that tenants can consider adopting for their stores at the malls of Frasers Property. Some of these guidelines include encouraging the use of low-volatile organic compound (VOC) paint, water fittings labelled with “3 ticks”, and composite timber.
To further support the tenants on his journey, bite-sized, digestible content to help tenants learn and understand more about sustainable store designs were also included in the guidelines. These include commonly used green-labelled materials, a section on biophilic design, as well as web links to various national agencies on sustainable practices.
Despite commercial and operational considerations, the malls of Frasers Property have seen a significant increase in tenants incorporating green fit-outs in their stores. In the past, only two in 10 tenants chose to adopt this; now, more than 80% of tenants fit out their stores with energy-efficient light fixtures.
Benefits of sustainable store design
It has also become easier for tenants to incorporate sustainable designs and practices, with the costs of green fittings like energy-efficient lighting and water-efficient taps decreasing over the years. Today, the prices of these fittings are comparable to their less sustainable counterparts. Repurposing elements of the previous store occupant’s design by upcycling or recycling them also translates to more cost savings for tenants, and the impact of sustainable design on business performance has proven true over the years.
Tenants have also seen improved sales and footfall by incorporating natural elements like natural light, water, and greenery into store design. Living in today’s fast-paced urban jungle can be stressful and draining for many. A biophilic design can help to create a more inviting and calming experience, drawing customers into the store and increasing their dwell time. A found that in addition to spending more time, shoppers are willing to pay more for products sold in spaces with more natural elements.
Innisfree’s outlet at Causeway Point uses wood and greenery to create an inviting atmosphere for shoppers who visit their store.
Innisfree is one such tenant that incorporates greenery and biophilia in their store design. Some NTUC and Cold Storage outlets are using plants instead of queue poles as a wayfinding device. Given the benefits, more can be done to bring elements of nature into in-store experiences. Incorporating sustainability into the retail design guidelines thus serves to inspire and educate tenants and their interior designers on the importance of creating an engaging, eco-friendly, and inviting experience for shoppers.
In addition, tenants who adopt sustainable store designs will have a competitive edge over those who do not. When tenants are able to demonstrate what green practices have been applied in their store design, their brand reputation and identity will resonate better with shoppers over time, bringing about greater brand loyalty and competitive edge.
Sustainable store design brings many benefits for business, but to truly reap the promises and value of sustainability, businesses need to embrace sustainable practices and processes across the entire value chain. When businesses take a holistic approach to sustainability, looking beyond operations to consider finance, marketing and hiring, they will be able to engage better with customers, and create more impactful retail experiences.
1 Under the BCA Green Mark assessment system, projects are rated on five key criteria such as Energy Efficiency, Water Efficiency, Environmental Protection, Indoor Environmental Quality and other Green Features.