how to plan a shop fitout

How To Plan A Shop Fitout?

Opening a new shop is a dream come true for many small businesses. Yet before you throw open the doors to eager customers, it pays to think carefully about how to fit out your new shop.

Why Do You Need To Create A Shopfitting Plan?

A well-designed shop in the right location can create a positive shopping experience for customers. Happy customers who can find what they’re looking for are more likely to buy and return. Different shop environments communicate your brand values, attracting the right customer to your store. If you have ambitions to open other stores, having a repeatable layout and shopfitting plan can ensure your business and brand can expand into other retail spaces more easily.

Shop Fitouts FAQs

The layout, signs, and items on display have to be carefully planned out for a good store design. Business objectives include:

  • Increased sales.
  • Meeting legal requirements and cost control.
  • Identifying business costs and reducing expenses.

One of the main purposes of the layout is undoubtedly to create smooth customer flow through the store. To achieve this, it is important to create the right balance between fast and smooth (customer) flow on the one hand and provision of space on the other.

  • College/training provider. Your local college or training provider may offer courses to help you start your career as a shopfitter. 
  • Apprenticeship. An apprenticeship with a construction firm is a good way into the industry. 
  • Work.
  • Work experience.

Shopfitters: People who carry out various jobs and tasks such as installing woodwork, metalwork and glasswork for shops, banks, offices, bars and restaurants.

The process of applying regression analysis to data. This method is sometimes called line-fitting or curve fitting, depending on the result. The process of cutting and shaping parts on a custom, craft-production basis to cause them to fit together into an assembly with the proper engineering fit.

What To Consider Before You Start.

how to plan a shop fitout (2)

Your shop fit-out is likely one of the most important business decisions you will make, especially in the retail or hospitality industries – or a B2B company that requires a physical presence for customers (e.g. a showroom).

Size: When deciding on a physical retail space location and the ease of access for customers should be a major consideration in your decision-making process. Once the space is secured, it’s important to work out how your customers will engage within the space and determine the best way to present your products. If your budget allows it, hire a retail designer who will ensure you get it right.

Budget: Firstly, work out a budget for the fit-out, consider all the physical expenses such as the base building, materials, lighting, flooring, signage, technology, fixtures and most importantly, the labour. Research and shop around for the best value items and materials. More than anything, ensure your store is current, engaging, and above all else, hero your product and brand.

Timeline: Once you have a budget worked out, you’ll need to plan your project timeline. Ideally, you want the fit-out to be done in the shortest time possible, as this will ultimately impact your revenue. However, a quality fit-out will take some time, so your new store must enjoy as much uninterrupted trade as possible for the foreseeable future. A great option is hiring a project manager to take care of the project operations, which allows you to do what you do best, running your business.

What Costs Do You Need To Consider?

The costs will vary depending on the type of shop you run and the space you want to create. The basic expenses you will need to examine include installing flooring, having the walls painted, lighting, display shelving and signage.

Some costs you need to consider may include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cold rooms
  • Furniture
  • Display cabinet
  • Artwork
  • Washbasins
  • Sales counters
  • Clothes rails
  • Electronic point of sale technology
  • Signage
  • Fixtures & joinery
  • Cost of a fit-out.

Most importantly is the cost of the contractors, with labour for fit-out renovations generally costing anywhere between $50 to $80 per hour. As a general guide, prices can range from around $250 per square metre for a basic job to a complex high-end project up to $2,000 per square metre.

How To Fit Out A New Shop

Creating a shopfitting plan can save time and money, too. Setting a budget and timetable means you can avoid unnecessary costs and choose a shopfitting partner that can bring your vision to life on time and budget.

Shopfitting – Planning Your Space

Shopfitting isn’t just about the practicalities of lighting, checkouts and window displays. Think about the shopping experience you want to deliver. Encourage customers to browse with well-planned spaces, and map out how you want customers to move around the shop and experience as much of your stock as possible.

When it comes to layout, think right. The majority of shoppers automatically turn right when entering a shop – known as the ‘invariant right’ according to Retail Minded. So put your most tempting offers and displays on the right and keep entrances clear so that customers feel welcomed into the store.

Functionality is king. Thoughtfully designed spaces value usability as much as aesthetics. Make a list of the important functions of the space and use this to create a shopfitting brief. Usability shouldn’t be lost during layout design – frustrated customers can quickly give up and shop elsewhere.

Lighting is incredibly important when planning a shop. It can reinforce atmosphere and brand, with spotlights, shelving and environmental lights adding colour, tone and texture to the shop. Use spots to highlight important areas and guide customers around the store. Provide clear lighting so customers can look at products.

Set A Realistic Budget

With a plan in place, conduct research to estimate likely costs and use this to set a realistic budget. Identify your priorities and stick to those. Don’t be tempted with unnecessary fixtures and fittings, as they can quickly see costs spiral. If working with a small budget, the trick is to keep it simple. Invest in a few key fittings to create an impact, and use lighting, paint and staging to add drama.

Use A Shopfitting Expert.

Fitting out a shop isn’t like decorating a home. Not only can an expert bring a different perspective, but good shopfitters will also have undertaken similar fit-outs and have useful ideas. Look for an expert with a bulging contacts book, as they might be able to negotiate savings from suppliers such as electrical installers or furniture retailers. In addition, they should be well-versed in health and safety issues, identify potential trip and fire hazards and ensure the fit-out meets any safety requirements.

If the budget doesn’t allow for a shopfitter, talk to a local carpenter who can help with bespoke shelves and other fixtures at a more reasonable cost.

Buy Fixtures And Furniture.

Shelving units, display stands and islands, or railings to showcase products are essential to avoid the store looking like a jumble sale. Invest inaccessible, flexible shelving or racks, and think about your products when deciding display density. A bargain home store will likely feature densely packed shelves, whereas a boutique fashion store may be best served by just one or two items per shelf or rail. Check fixtures are the right dimensions and rated for the weight of goods you’ll place on them.

It would help if you also had a counter to accept payment and pack goods and simple shelving for back-of-house storage.

Buy Shop Equipment

Once the main fixtures are in place, you’ll need to invest in a range of shop equipment.

Pricing – buy a label maker to create price stickers or a tagging gun and tag attachments to fasten price tags to your products. You’ll also need a point of sale labelling, signage, shelf labels and price tags, as well as promotional marketing such as sale and offer signs for the shop window.

Point of sale – buy a till and electronic point of sale (EPOS) system for processing payments. New businesses can use mobile phones and contactless card readers to pay low monthly fees that automatically tie into inventory control. Still, you’ll need a cash register for customers not using credit cards. Check you’ve plenty of carrier bags – ideally in the paper – with your brand’s logo and message on them. Remember to charge a fee for plastic bags.

Safety and security – buy a safe to store shop takings. Think about investing in CCTV cameras, especially for store blind spots, to deter shoplifters. Good CCTV cameras include the ability to back up video footage off-site. Check you have working smoke detectors and fire alarms, and regularly test them. Buy an intruder alarm for when the premises are unoccupied.

You can save money buying second-hand equipment. Look on eBay,, Gumtree and similar websites for used retail equipment. You must also think about the basic utilities such as water, gas, electricity, internet, phone, insurance and council services such as waste collection. Shop around to find reliable and affordable suppliers.

Fundamentals To Planning The Perfect Retail Fit-Out

how to plan a shop fitout (3)

It’s essential to optimise the customer experience through careful planning across all elements of the build. So put on your persona hats, taking note of shopper habits and mannerisms to recognise how to maintain attention and convert browsers into buyers. Understanding customer behaviour is vital to business success, which all leads to laying the right foundations.

Bricks and mortar stores are where 93% of retail spending occurs in Australia, and shop fit-outs are the foundation of your physical store. So make time to research everything regarding your fit-out.

To help you get started, we’ve provided a list of fundamentals.

Combination: The Code To Unlocking A Successful Lighting Design

Lighting is critical to retailers to attract shopper attention and draw them in. If an area of your store is not well lit, consumers will walk straight past, and it may as well be empty. Instead, incorporate a combination of lighting options to create a well-balanced space. The right mix of backlighting, downlights, pendants and track lighting will generate a perfect fusion of illumination and shadow.

LED backlighting illuminates flat wall panels, adding depth and dimension to any retail shop. They also have the bonus of being energy efficient, therefore lowering operating costs and saving you money.

Quality lighting is imperative above the counter of any retailer to add warmth and lure consumers, but it must also be adequate and glare-free for shop assistants. For fashion retailers, it’s also important to think carefully about lighting in your fitting rooms. According to research undertaken by Shoppercentric, 60% of purchasing decisions are made within a store’s fitting room. Therefore, artificial or poor lighting can be a real deal-breaker for some shoppers.

Interior Design: Influence Customer Buying Behaviour

A successful commercial fit-out requires a strategic approach with the store layout and interior design. This is then complimented with astutely placed signage, visual merchandising and product placement.

When planning the layout, remember not to lose sight of the customer experience. For them, the persuasion in entering is the ambience rather than the products themselves. According to retail strategists at Kizer & Bender, “patrons typically don’t notice merchandising displays within 15 feet of the entrance”. Upon entering, consumers are too busy making judgement decisions. Will the products be suitable for me? Are they expensive? Is there enough room for me to easily walk around?

Installing floor to ceiling wall fixtures allows for optimal product placement whilst maximising floor space and encouraging consumers to linger longer. In addition, low line shelving within the trading area permits customers to see more products and increase their spending. The bonus for retailers is this also increases customer visibility, therefore reducing shoplifting.

Choosing the right layout option for the internal fixtures can provide space for promotional signage, assisting in traffic flow and helping to build your brand. When selecting the design layout, have your target markets, products and brand in mind. Then, by analysing and understanding customer behaviour, you will know to design your space to guide consumers through your store like puppets on a string.

Flooring: Doing The Groundwork

Many facets of flooring can affect the shopping experience – from color to comfort, cleanliness to customisation – it can play a large part in the sales generation of the space. And because flooring can have a major impact on the mood of colour consumers, we want to address how retailers’ can use flooring to create brand awareness further.

Noise regulation is another flooring concern in the retail environment. Without the right acoustics, consumers are likely to retreat and move on to a competitor. In addition to being durable and sustainable, sound control is pivotal in the selection process. Thankfully there are many materials, underlays and aesthetically appealing products suitable for the retail market.

Flooring can also create zones to segment merchandise or create a pathway through the store to lure consumers to a particular area or product. Promotional advertising is also becoming increasingly popular on retail floors to influence shopper purchasing decisions. It is no longer just about colour and comfort. There is a range of variables to consider when fitting out the floor of a store.

Shopfitting: The Nuts And The Bolts Of It

Shopfitters collaborate with commercial interior designers and a diverse range of business owners and RDMs (Retail Development Managers) on an ongoing basis. Therefore, a key resource in obtaining information and advice on fit-out solutions and knowledge on relevant products that are available and on-trend.

Tips On Planning A Successful Shop Fit-Out

Fitting out a shop is usually more of a challenge than newcomers might expect. It is not just a question of finding the right premises in a suitable location, repainting it, changing the carpet, and buying a few counters, racks, and display cabinets.

You will have greater scope as an owner, but many landlords are alert to all commercial opportunities and encourage you to improve their building at your own expense!

Fit-Out Specialists

Many businesses specialise in complete fit-outs and can supply a consultant or a range of them to help you every step of the way. Get quotes from two or three before making your choice. But if you are planning on opening a hobby-style shop that sells clothes and knick-knacks, then there’s no need to choose a specialist whose normal line of work is doing an entire department store. Even so, it is sensible to contact one or two such companies. Ideas by themselves rarely cost money, at least not in the conversational phase.

Equipment Options

In some cases, you may even find existing products that will suit your needs. Think about how many similar shops are already open for business! Clothes racks, shop counters, display cabinets with built-in lighting, bookcases, wire racks and all manner of stands are readily available in a bewildering range of shapes and sizes. You might even consider it used equipment. Buying ready-made items will almost invariably be less expensive than having bespoke ones especially created; mass-produced is still the cheapest option, which is one reason a Daewoo costs less than a Ferrari.

Research And Reconnaissance

Start by checking out some internet sites on the question of shop fit-outs. You might even find major items to suit you perfectly, and there is no shortage of salespeople eager to win your business. It is also a good idea to visit other shops which sell broadly similar merchandise. First impressions matter in business so how you present your goods and services is vital.

Regulations And Compliance

Even so, it still isn’t easy. The government gets into the picture, too. Certified construction plans are usually a prerequisite. Drawings to scale will include a detailed diagram of the entire site. It would help if you also had a floor plan that shows the layout of walls, doors, fixed furniture and displays, and lighting and plumbing. The ceiling plan shows where the emergency exit signs will be, smoke detectors and sprinkler system heads (if a system is required). You will also probably be required to show internal elevations – ceiling height(s), counter/bench/fixture heights, and wall tiling location. Some councils require details of materials, colours and finishes. And, of course, there is a fee to lodge your building licence application form. Check all this out first.

First Steps

So the initial step in this process is to visit your local council. You should then at least be able to avoid making mistakes that will later have to be unmade. One such mistake might be thinking you can do all the work yourself when it may be mandatory to employ a licensed builder. Instead, try to find someone who has some experience in this line of work. You may even want to consult an architect or interior designer.

When the initial planning is complete, you need to think about how it can be executed most efficiently. Of course, not all items will be available at one time, but you won’t want to stall the whole project waiting for, say, the sprinkler system to be installed or the flooring to be completed. The trick here is to consider the logistics beforehand.

More Considerations

Plenty of questions need to be addressed. Will the existing building suffice without a major upgrade? Will you need to provide disabled access? Where will you locate the fire exit? And don’t forget the relevant signage. What about air-conditioning, security? You will almost certainly need to have the electrical system upgraded.

When the renovations commence, you should consider the impact of noise, dust and traffic on your neighbours. Unhappy locals are not a good idea when you are starting a new business.

If you are leasing your premises, it will generally be the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the building in sound working order, as with a rented apartment.

Scroll to Top