Major bookstore chains are literally eating up independent booksellers like you. Their stores are well-planned to attract customers. They are also designed to echo their corporate image. Here are some suggestions on how an independent player like you can effectively design your retail bookstore:
1. Think of a design that offers a unique experience. How’s that? Consider a design that invites your customers to frequent your bookstore. Your design should give them a reason to keep on going back.
2. Go around to get inspiration. Know what the other local bookstores are offering. Weigh which among those “exciting features” are going to work well for your own retail bookstore.
3. Feel the pulse of your customers. Join a reading club in your community to hear about book lovers’ opinion on independent bookstores in general. You may also join some on-line groups to hear about their discussion threads.
Researching on the psychology of book shoppers is a great idea, too. There are a lot of books and studies devoted on them. Knowing their psychology allows you to understand their habits and preferences. What do you need to do with your aisles to draw them deep into your bookstore? Is signage going to persuade them to but a particular book?
4. Create a theme for your window display. A number of customers are prompted to enter bookstores depending on what they see at the window display. There are tons of timely topics to choose from. What about economics and financial planning? Or, job search? Or, weight loss and alternative medicine? Change your window display according to the prevailing trends.
5. Provide ample seating areas. Strategically identify the ideas where your customers can easily sit down and leaf through your books. That can certainly convince them to stay longer in your bookstore. Of course, don’t make your seating areas “too comfortable”. You want to remind your customers that they are in your bookstore, not in a library. Encourage them to read but push them to buy.
6. Set up kiosks. These are areas where your customers can search and download e-books. Make sure that access is only given to your loyal customers. You may ask them to sign for a membership first. By providing modern conveniences, you are, in a way, encouraging your customers to get the hard copy of the e-books they just had. You can also use the kiosks to display new arrivals or booksellers.
7. Let your customers move freely. Your aisles should be wide enough for them to go around your bookshelves. Here’s one tip. Choose the books with attractive covers. Place them facing out. They may invite your customers to go around and check out all those wonderful covers.
To cap your design, you need to get a good lighting. You don’t want your customers to be lurking in the dark. You also need to think about painting your walls and putting up some contemporary photos. Your color and display should look hip and inviting. You don’t want your bookstore to appear old and dingy.