Designing the fashion retail space for store employees | PDD

Designing the fashion retail space for store employees


on April 3 2013

We often hear and talk about the need for retail spaces to be designed to create the best shopping experience for consumers, but what about designing retail spaces for the store employees? Having briefly had a taste of what it is like to work in a high street fashion retailer, I have to admit I was struck by the poor back-store layout and how it affects the employees’ work.

With so much money spent on designing shop layouts and the drive for staff to create the best customer service while hitting sales targets, I had expected to see stockrooms and staff-only areas to be as well laid out as the customer’s shop floor. Instead, I was faced with the most divided and disorganised space arrangements. Stockroom locations are sometimes split on different floors, all accessed from different doors and different staircases, far from any fitting rooms where most of the stock often goes first before hitting the shelves.
If this was a restaurant, we would not allow food storage to be located in such places that would require staff to go cross the dining room to fetch new items and bring them back to the kitchen, in front of hundreds of customers. But in clothing shops it is often okay do to so because they are just clothes.
Too often it felt as if nobody had considered that people would be working all day long in these stockrooms. Has the thought of ‘what will workers do in these stockrooms?’ even crossed the mind of someone, rather than only considering ‘what are these used for’? With barely enough room to fit all the stock items, leave a delivery box or to open a step-ladder, it made me wonder: has the retail space been designed with the right people in mind?
Image credit: Clothing retail shop © Input Creative studio via

Shops are work environments too.
Work environments are usually designed, among many other factors, to improve workflow and employee efficiency. Yet, for fashion shops, a fast-paced business, the layout work puts such a big emphasis on reaching the consumer experience and promoting sales that it has left little space to think about employees’ efficiency and wellbeing.
Shouldn’t it be designed to create a positive (or at least neutral) working atmosphere for employees too, before being a shopping space?
Of course, I am sure there are many well-designed retail shops out there. It goes without saying that creating such space has many challenges, especially when it comes to rearranging existing buildings.