retail design FAQ's

Below you will find questions and answers to commly asked questions regarding retail design:

What do I need before I can begin the design process?

Generally by now you will have a site for your store in mind and possibly be in the negotiation stages of the lease agreement between yourself/your lawyer and leasing agent.
The landlord or shopping centre will provide you with ‘lease plans’ (plans of the site) and usually also some ‘guidelines’ that explain what they expect from you as a retailer, what you can expect from them as a landlord, and what requirements they have, as the landlord, for the look, style and quality of fit-out for your store.

What’s the standard process for starting a retail fit-out?

In theory the basic procedure is as follows:
  • have your business plan in place
  • have your corporate identity and branding (logo’s etc.) finalised
  • find a site and sign a lease agreement (you should have a lawyer do this with/for you)
  • obtain all the appropriate paperwork from the landlord (lease plans etc.)
  • engage a ‘retail designer’
  • begin the design process - this will involve meeting with the designer to discuss the brief, going over the concept design and making any required changes from yourself or the approving landlord, documenting the design into full fitout drawings that will again be required to be approved by the landlord, have drawings finalised in line with any feedback from the approving landlord (all of these items will be taken care of by your retail designer).
  • submit fitout drawings to (typically no more than) 3 different shopfitter to obtain quotes for the works
  • engage a shopfitter
  • submit drawings to council for approval (if required, your shopfitter should be able to do this for you and any relating fees must be paid by you, the shop owner).
  • begin the fit-out! - At this stage, even though the retail designers job is technically ‘finished’, at Blackbox we oversee the whole fit-out and liaise with the shopfitter to solve any design issues that may arise on site. We stay with you and the shopfitter until your store is open to ensure you get the desired result. (quality of building works is the sole responsibility of the shopfitter and not the retail designer, a good shopfitter will have some sort of guarantee about this in your contract so don’t worry, just always be sure to read your contracts before signing anything!).

What services do you offer?

Our job begins with drawing up your site from the lease plan. From here the general process is:
  • design the perfect layout and footprint for your store to function to it’s full potential
  • design a dynamic and individual colour concept that works with your branding, logos and any graphics, to produce a holistic ‘corporate design’ that people will come to identify with as your business/company for years to come.
  • provide a full colour/finishes and furnishings schedule.
  • produce full fit-out drawings for construction and approvals (any structural or hydraulics engineering will be arranged by the shopfitter and included in their quote to you).
  • provide detailed joinery drawings of any custom built items (i.e counters, display units) for construction and approvals.

What if I don't have any branding or logos yet?

We work closely with some of the best graphic design companies in Brisbane and around Australia and can work with yourself and them to collectively come up with a branding identity that's eye catching, unique and relevant to your company and products/services. Just give us a call and we can discuss the different options for graphic design packages to suit your needs and budget.

What should I budget for retail design services?

Unfortunately this is a tough one as every company is different and there is no real industry standard although many design and architectural companies will base fees on approximately 5-10% of the fit-out budget. At Blackbox we don't base fees on a percentage rate, we have very simple, competitive flat fee rates that are tailored to suit your needs and budget so just give us a call and we can organise a free quote. Flat fee rates mean you will never pay more than the quoted amount. The more information you can give us about the site the more accurate a quote we can give you.

Can you come to the site I've chosen to help me determine what needs to be done?

Absolutely. If you are in the Brisbane metro area we are happy to meet you on site for up to an hour free of charge. From there we can help you determine what needs to be done and draw up an accurate quote for you the same day.
If you are on the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast we would require a small call out fee but it’s often very worth while as our years of experience can help give you a better idea of how the site can work for you and what you can expect before you get too far into the process!

Do I need approvals from landlords and council for my shop fit-out?

You will nearly always need landlord approval, especially if you are entering a site within a shopping centre (i.e Westfield, Stockwells etc.)
Council approvals generally depend on the type of work you are having done (i.e if there is structural work to be done, hydraulics, if it’s a food tenancy) but that can usually be determined in the concept stages. However, the exact amount of certificates and fees can only be determined once the plans are submitted to the council, this is just a fact of the building/fit-out process and something that every shop owner has to deal with unfortunately.

Does spending money on a fit-out design really improve my business?

Absolutely! Have you ever gone back to a specific shop, cafe, restaurant just because you remember it feeling nice, comfortable, fun, light whatever feeling it gave you..?!. It’s all in the design and the atmosphere and style that it exudes.
People don’t always know what it is that they liked about a place, they just remember that they liked it. Sometimes it’s the smallest thing like the type of chairs or the calming feeling that the natural finishes within the store gave you.

Lighting and product placement is a big part of it as well, if you create a beautiful, functional space that is user friendly and comfortable, people will always feel comfortable coming back and they will come back to you over a similar store that was “crammed” or “too bright to see anything” or “dark and dingy”. It’s all about creating the environment that’s right for your business and product/services.

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