Retail Design Strategy: How to write a retail design brief

retail design strategy

Your retail design strategy will be the key to staying on budget and on time. Learn how to write the perfect retail design brief right here.

So, you’ve created a retail design strategy and you have a good idea of how you want your retail environment to look. The next step is to put it into an understandable retail design brief. This can be a challenge and put a lot of pressure on you. Get it wrong, and misunderstandings with retail design agencies can cut into your time and budget.

To help you avoid the pitfalls of spending hours of ‘guessing’ what you need to include in your retail design brief, we are going to guide you through the process.

Give Some Background on Your Retail Design Strategy

Take some time to look back through your retail design strategy and pinpoint key information about the project. Start with the details of key people on your team who will be collaborating on the project. What do you need designing for your retail space and how does it fit into your overall strategy?

Include a history of your brand in the retail design brief. This will help designers contextualise what you need and start thinking about how it will tie into the look and feel of your brand. It might even be helpful to include a few examples of who your competitors are to point agencies in the right direction for the initial research.

Including a copy of your retail design strategy or at least the key points will help any design agency understand the ‘whys’ and ‘how’s’ of any fixtures, fittings or units they will be designing and manufacturing for you. This will allow any designers to get started on the ideas process without needing to interrupt your work day.

Have a Goal in Mind

Like with any part of your marketing, you need to have an end goal. Even if it is as simple as, ‘sell more of this particular product’, it needs to be included in your design brief. It is also good practice to include a few other, non-sales-based goals too. Here are a few examples of goals you might want to include in your brief:

We recommend having three or four different goals that are achievable and rank them in order of importance. Although it’s good to have high expectations, try to keep your expectations around those main goals, otherwise you may find the design and manufacturing process taking a massive detour.

Share Your Other Marketing Strategies

Include details on what your other marketing efforts look like. Give the designer an idea of how your retail display needs fit into the larger scheme of things.

Offer an outline of who the target audience is. What do they look like? What drives them to purchase? Include any relevant user personas that you would like to target. When designing for retail spaces, it’s always easier to design for the individual. When you design for everybody, you end up designing for no one.

Think About The Feeling

Throughout this process, you may have relied on hard numbers and facts in your retail design strategy. For this section, you need to think about how you want customers to walk away feeling. This is where your expertise can really help the design team.

Is there a ‘vibe’ or theme that you are going for? Do you have any ‘inspirations’ you can share? Set up a Pinterest account and create a secret board that you can share in the retail design brief. Even if it becomes a list of things you love around the shape, materials or even colours, it will all help in the design process. Include the elements that you would really like to avoid. We find that it can help to add a selection of words you do and don’t to be associated with your retail design.

Don’t Forget The Details!

One of the most important elements of your retail design brief; the specs! You must include the usual things like dimensions and number of units. However, don’t forget weight as this could drastically change the price point. Be clear and unashamed of your budgets. If your needs far exceed your budgets, the agency will discuss this with you. Outlining these restrictions early on will save you pain further down the line.

Are you open to add-on options? You may never have thought to include illumination, security options or an upgrade on finishes but these are areas where you can let designers have a little more creative freedom.

Don’t be afraid to offer lots of guidance on materials and how the end product needs to be delivered. Does the retail unit need to come fully assembled or flat-packed? Clarify all the small details before and after manufacture, assume that the agency will know nothing about your plans (good chances are, they won’t).

Always Link It Back To Your Retail Design Strategy

Before sending off your design brief, make sure you do a final check for key dates and unit budgets. It is also your final chance to include additional notes on aspects of the project you have not had a chance to cover. We also highly recommend adding your own contact details so if any important details were missed, the agency can get in touch.

To aid you in your retail design journey, you can download our retail design brief template. It covers all the main information points that you will need to give and make the process of working with a retail design agency ten times easier.

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Download Your Free Retail Design Brief Template