Exploring Trajan’s Market, The World’s Oldest Shopping Mall (and what it can tell us about today’s shopfitting trends)

Trajan's Market Shopfitting Sunshine CoastIn today’s world, obsessed with technology and innovation, there seems to be an unspoken bias that “newer equals better”. While we agree that technology has done more to enrich lives, foster equality and open communication, and offering opportunities that would have been impossible for regular citizens a century ago, things are not necessarily better just because they’re newer.

Life is constantly growing out of the ruins of the past, like vines encompassing a derelict building in a deserted city center. It’s preposterous to think that everything was backwards and dysfunctional, historically, as the past, quite literally, created the present.

Instead of reacting out of these unspoken prejudices, let us take a moment to consider one of the oldest commercial properties on the planet, and see what it might tell us about where today’s shopfitting might be heading.

Exploring Trajan’s Market, The World’s Oldest Shopping Mall

With over 150 shops, delicate marble work, an on-site library, Trajan’s Market was a marvel of the Ancient World. Although its precise origins are lost to history, Trajan’s Market is thought to have been built by Apollodorus of Damascus, the royal architect for Emperor Trajan, roughly around 113 CE. This makes Apollodorus of Damascus one of the earliest shopfitters in history.

The shops, which circled the first two levels of Trajan’s Market, varied in size and shape. Many shops were like small closets, where the shopkeepers were thought to have greeted the customer at the door, retreating into the shadowy shopfronts to retrieve their wares.

The impressive, sprawling complex was covered with a vaulted roof, as a precursor to today’s indoor shopping malls.

Not only was Trajan’s Market the earliest shopping mall in history, it also served as headquarters for Emperor Trajan. Trajan’s Market was originally conceived as an expansion for the Roman Forum, which had been blocked in by hills and existing buildings. State officials, politicians, and shopkeepers had apartments above the shop floors, making Trajan’s Market an early example of a live/work space.

To accomplish this impressive feat, Apollodorus of Damascus terraced the hillsides, to make room for the market, in an early example of terraforming. He then arranged the market in a semicircle, known as the Great Hemicycle, to better withstand the pressure from the Earth.

Trajan’s Market is not only still standing, it still functions as a marketplace, 2000 years after it was built. If only all designs could withstand the test of time as well!

What Trajan’s Market Can Tell Us About Today’s Shopfitting Trends

The fact that Trajan’s Market is still a functioning marketplace, millennia after it was built, is a testament to the timelessness of its design and execution. In many ways, many of Trajan’s Market central design concepts are still as relevant as ever, if not more so, although some have fallen by the wayside, over the course of history.

Starting in roughly the ’90s, shopping malls have been on the decline, in favor of, what the website DailyCaller.com calls “a sign of the decline of suburbia and an embrace of a city-centric, centrally-planned, new age, creative class, sharing-economy, walkable, kumbaya cultural future.”

Shopping malls offered high-quality shopping experiences to suburbanites who may not have had easy access to lavish urban shopping, nor the means to afford them, even if they did. Shopping malls were an early example of the average consumer beginning to aspire to higher class aspirations.

This promise, ultimately, culminated in the hyper-connectivity of e-Commerce, where every shopkeeper on Earth is competing to offer the lowest prices, with storefronts that never close.

The progression to e-Commerce was probably inevitable. A few decades into Internet shopping, however, has left us craving the physical shopping experience. Brick-and-mortar storefronts, around the world and across industries, are experiencing a renaissance, as customers search for the speed, convenience, and interactivity of physical shopping. To make the most of the rising tide, retailers are beginning to offer lavish, luxe shopping experiences that no VR headset will be able to surpass.

Likewise, live/work arrangements like Trajan’s Market fell under rampant criticism, during the late ’70s/early-’80s, as consumers began to be skeptical of the all-inclusive arrangement, being the modern equivalent of the Company Store.

Ironically, this setup speaks directly to the “city-centric, centrally-planned… walkable future,” mentioned above. While shopping malls may have once been the ultimate sign of capitalist expansion, might these mighty edifices offer a possible solution to some of today’s urban plight? As oil becomes more and more scarce, walkable shopping centres such as these will continue to rise. Perhaps the live-in retail centre might be the most New Age concept of all?

Suffice it to say, Trajan’s Market provokes some thought about traditional shopfitting, and which way it might be heading.

Looking for shopfitting that will stand the test of time? Let one of the Sunshine Coast’s leading shopfitters help your storefront flourish! We also offer competitively-priced, comprehensive commercial building management for the Sunshine Coast.

Trascending Anonymity: What Mannequins Are Telling Us About Modern Shopfitting

Shopfitting Sunshine CoastGreat design – like any form of High Art – speaks volumes about the values, hopes, fears, and dreams of contemporary culture. In today’s world, design – whether graphic, fashion, interior, or shopfitting – actually says MORE about the world we’re living in that other, more traditional, “High Art” forms like abstract painting or dance, that enjoy a dedicated, but highly specialized, audience.

Design is like everyday art, for everybody.

Mannequins have long served as anonymous receptacles for our hopes and aspirations, being blank and generic enough for nearly anybody to imagine ourselves enjoying the wares they’re peddling, no matter who you are.

Today’s consumers are proving remarkably resistant to this brand of bland, generic advertising, prompting savvy shopfitters and retail designers to update the still life figurines for today’s modern audience.

Shopfitting Trends: Modern Mannequins

Modern mannequins are getting fitted out with the latest, most innovative digital solutions, like nearly every aspect of commerce. Not only are retailers working signal beacons into their floor plans, alerting potentially interested shoppers to deals they might like in their vicinity, even the mannequins are getting in on the action.
High-tech retailers are incorporating touchscreens, digital displaas, and personalized messages, via the aforementioned signal beacons.

Some savvy designers are using technology to negate the anonymity that many critics accuse digital devices of cultivating. Rather than just being another figure in the crowd, another faceless member of a broad demographic, Los Angeles-based designer Chad Michael Morrisette of the design firm CM Squared Design, employed an innovative blend of display screens and digital camera, letting passers-by actually visualize themselves using the products.

Outdated technology is being employed, as well, to help mannequins stand out and say something distinctive. A Best Buy store on Michigan Ave. in Chicago recycled old technology by gluing motherboards and circuit boards to the lifelike sculptures, in a way that speaks to today’s concerns with upcycling and sustainability.

Also in Chicago, mannequins were a major part of last summer’s Project Windows competition, where Michigan Avenue retailers were invited to participate to help spread the word on a major Magritte retrospective that was happening at the Art Institute Of Chicago.

Not all of the technological innovations are so rosy and optimistic. There’s a new model of mannequin on the market, called the “bionic spy”, that features cameras in the eyes, to keep track of shoppers using facial recognition software. The “bionic spies” are able to log age, gender, and race into a database.

Last but not least, even traditional mannequins are getting a makeover. Sal Lenzo, the visual merchandiser for the legendary Bergdorf Goodman department store in NYC, has spoken on the usefulness of mannequins with detailed heads and faces, in telling a fashion narrative.

“If you’re going to use the mannequin to tell your story, to express your point of view, heads and faces simply have more personality. And heads with faces gives you the opportunity for accessorizing with hats, sunglasses, makeup, jewelry and the like,” stated Lenzo sagely.

Like every other aspect of retail, generic and hasty isn’t going to cut it, if you’re looking to stand out and get noticed in today’s competitive – but thrilling – retail world.

Want to find out how one of the Sunshine Coast’s leading shopfitters can help bring your storefront into the Future? Contact us today! We also offer comprehensive, competitively-priced commercial building maintenance packages for the Sunshine Coast, to help your business stay looking its best!

How Shell Improved Its Margins By 5% With A New Design

Shell Shopfitting RefitUK retail designer/shopfitter Craig Phillipson was surely being modest when he described his craft as “the forgotten bastard-child of design” during the second day of London’s Retail Design Expo 2016. Even if he was being hyperbolic, his statement reflects the way shopfitting is perceived in this day and age, as well as the errors in that thinking.

Phillipson was intimately involved in a major, chain-wide overhaul of the gas-powered monolith, utilizing extensive customer data and research. Phillipson interpreted the data and insights, via decades of retail design experience, in an innovative symbiosis of technology, social sciences, and solid, traditional shopfitting.

According to Phillipson, ““People’s active peripheral vision is 60 degrees for men and 65 degrees for women. Shoppers want to turn to see things at no more than 45 degrees, and they also only buy when a product is 1.2 metres away,” he explained, in a torrent of useful information.

Are you looking to update your business? See how shopfitting your Sunshine Coast business can give your storefront a whole new lease on life!

“Using these principles, stores were re-pointed in such a way that we got incredible results. Food category sales – one of the main product types we wanted to increase – improved by 49.2%; total shop sales increased by 15.1%; while shop margins improved by 19% because customers were buying more higher margin items.”

Phillipson assisted Shell in three different formats, designed to capture three disparate audiences. The first was geared towards what Phillipson described as “transient visitors” – high-mileage drivers, for whom food was the primary concern. The second is closer to the modern convenience store, being customized for local shoppers, focusing on snacks and alcoholic beverages. The final category was solely for people getting gas, which put the most precedent on to-go snacks.

A wider range of alcoholic beverages, for the local shoppers, and high-end Costa Coffee machines for the long-haul drivers, were some examples of these customizations.

These retail re-designs are already yielding maximal results, according to Phillipson. “We’ve converted about 400 stores since 2012, and are doing another 50 per year, but already we’re seeing that overall store margins are three times the margin tobacco provides – where just four years ago, the margins were the same.”

These revisions aren’t designed to manipulate the consumers, or sell them what they don’t need. Quite the opposite, in fact. Shell’s re-design is giving consumers more of what they want, which is converting into real-world profit margins. “In 60% of transactions, there are now convenience retail purchases too – which is up from 40% in 2012. Moreover, in 30% of transactions we are seeing convenience-only purchases – that is no fuel purchases at all – meaning our stores are becoming places people want to go to.”

If a retail re-design is enough to make a gas station/convenience store into a desirable destination, just think what a shopfitter on the Sunshine Coast could do for your business? We also offer commercial building maintenance!

How France’s Carrefour Is Integrating Lighting And Mobile Technology

shopfitting Sunshine Coast trendsOne of the biggest trends in physical retailing, these days, is the integration of the digital and the physical. Companies are rolling out loyalty apps in droves, as part of the pursuit of an exceptional retail experience.

A French company, Carrefour, unveiled a striking new concept in physical/digital integration to a capacity crowd at London’s Retail Design Expo 2016. The concept – known as visible light communication – updates traditional retail lighting, to serve up extremely accurate, location-based signals throughout a physical space, to guide shoppers to sales they might be interested in, throughout the storefront.


Philips Lighting is responsible for this innovative new technology, as part of their commitment to moving “beyond illumination”. Carrefour already had plans to update their Lille location, and decided to take the opportunity to try out the new lighting strips. The feature comes standard in all new Philips Lighting strips, but buyers can opt to use the pay-as-you-go function or not, as they see fit.

Want to find out how shopfitting your Sunshine Coast storefront can help take your business to the next level? Contact us today!

According to Carrefour’s director modéles commerciaux et innovation Céline Martin, “With such a large retail space, and the fact we run between 400-600 promotions every week, it’s essential we help customers find promotions. Using our app, customers can see exactly where they are in the hypermarket, and see promotions that are nearby, or promotions linked to what’s on their shopping list.”

So far, only 3600 customers have downloaded the app since it was unveiled in 2013. These numbers aren’t all bad, however, as 1% of the app owners use the app on a regular basis. Of that number, 50% will be in-store.

A representative of Philips Lighting, Gerben van der Lugt, claimed, “This technology is making use of smart phones increasingly becoming a shopping companion for people… We already know eight in ten people use their smart phones while shopping, while other research finds 50% of shoppers say they would be happy to receive location-based alerts – including details about promotions around them.”

Are you ready to take advantage of this brave new world of Retail Design? Talk to the leading shopfitters on the Sunshine Coast, and step into the future!

4 Subtle Influences That Could Be Affecting Your Shopfitting Design

Shopfitters Sunshine CoastHuman beings love to feel superior to the Natural World that surrounds us. We have an awful lot to be proud of, having fought our way from being snacks for saber-tooth tigers to being the kings and queens of all we survey.

Sometimes, we have a tendency to come off like New Money in an established affluent community. We love to show off what we know, and what we have, to show how far we’ve come.

While we have good reasons to be proud, we also run the risk of forgetting where we come from. We are as affected by our surroundings as any robin, cicada, or chimpanzee, even though we don’t always like to admit it.

Every living thing, as a byproduct of staying alive, follows its own circadian rhythm, which tells us when to eat, when to sleep, when to feel happy, when to get nervous. These cues are dictated by our environment, with the rise and the fall of the seasons. Since we don’t live as close to nature as we once did, these factors can slip into the background, escaping our notice, but having an influence on our moods and thoughts, nonetheless.

Here are four subtle factors that could be affecting your storefront, to watch out for:

Use White, Natural Lighting

Let’s not forget, the first rule of shopfitting is presenting the product in its most attractive light. In this case, that is quite literal. It is tempting to utilize some kind of colored light, in an attempt to sway your customers’ moods, but that plan could backfire, once they take their product home to discover it as a different color than what they intended to purchase. That’s not to say you can’t use mood-altering as an accent. Red-hued lights tend to energize, while blue lights radiate calmness and serenity. Blue/green trim can also be used to give a more futuristic look to a space.

A Colorful Facade Can Grab Attention

On a similar note, the color of a storefront can greatly impact a potential customer’s mood, when they cross the threshold. As everyone’s been ravenously exploring the possibilities of color theory in the 21st Century, this has led to a certain amount of bright, bold overkill. A bright storefront or an illuminated exterior can make your customer feel excited and positive, while browsing your wares, but it’s easy to overdo, to become chintzy and cheap-looking.

“Cool” Colors Are Getting Cooler

A color’s temperature is measured in Kelvins, indicating the likely source of the light. Traditionally, temperatures greater than 5000 Kelvin are considered “cool” colors, while Kelvin temperatures between 2700 and 3500 are considered “warm” (appearing yellowish white and red). As our eyes have become more acclimated to the blue glow of technology, our idea of what constitutes cool is shifting. 2700 Kelvins is the new cool.

Watch Out For Flicker

It’s easy to have smooth, consistent light when running at 100% capacity, but dimmer switches tend to make that operation a bit more tricky. This can lead to a buzzing, flickering, low-light-level LED, which is pretty much the polar opposite of the calming effect you’d hope modern lighting would achieve.

Are you ready for truly exception retail design, from some of the Sunshine Coast’s leading shopfitters? Contact us today, and let us help your storefront really sparkle and shine!

Check Out The Retail Innovations From Retail Design Expo 2016

Shopfitters Sunshine Coast News2016 stands to be the year when the digital and the physical come together, to bring customers the best, most optimized consumer experience, judging from the top innovations on display at this year’s Retail Design Expo.

2016 saw the first year where the most excellent, cutting-edge retail designs were honored, in the inaugural edition of the Innovation Trail and Awards.

A panel of industry professionals came together to shortlist 18 innovative designs, giving a good general overview of what this year’s top shopfitting trends might look like.

For instance, a lot of retailers are adopting VM Technology from Icomeme, which brings together the brick-and-mortar and the virtual for customers who have downloaded the app. The app alerts shoppers to sales in the store, within 30 m, with detailed product information, sale prices, and even be guided directly to the display. VM Technology from Icomeme makes the best of technology, functioning somewhere between a circular ad, minus the annoying (and wasteful) paper, a push notification from your favorite app, and an immersive, interactive physical retail experience.

The VM Technology also allows customers to store their favorite outfits, for future consideration, in a style similar to popular sites like LookBook and Polyvore.

Some trends we’ve been seeing for a while continue to be important, particularly green shopfitting solutions. The company Global Display is tackling this problem head-on, with a line of sustainable mannequins (pictured at top of article), constructed using natural fibre-reinforced polymers and patented production technique, for a distinctive new type of display.

Shopfitting Innovations from Retail Design Expo 2016In another bid to reduce paper and carbon imprint, Umdasch Shopfitting revealed their Electronic Shelf Labeling system. It is to Umdesch’s credit that their design manages to look both futuristic AND classic, with crisp, colorful graphics conjuring images of an old-fashioned marketplace, but with all of today’s best bells-and-whistles.

Judging from these three cutting-edge designs, shoppers are ready to get out of the house for some face time and fresh.

Are you ready to take advantage of the foot traffic? Contact us today, and see what some of the Sunshine Coast’s leading shopfitters can do for you!

Not looking for a whole overhaul, but want to keep your storefront in tip-top shape? We also offer a wide range of commercial building maintenance services for the Sunshine Coast.

Inspiring Shopfitting Designs: Simon Campbell Of Belfast’s Portview

Portview Shopfitting Sunshine Coast News

Retail, at its heart, is all about coming together. Initially, the shopkeeper’s vision comes together with a talented crew of behind-the-scenes operators – all the decorators and electricians and architects conspiring to make this dream come true. Then, after the launch, it becomes the customer’s domain. People will meet up in the store before going out for lunch. People will meet and fall in love there. New businesses will be formed. New ideas will be hatched.

In this regard, a shopfitter like PortView‘s fit-out specialist Simon Campbell, falls somewhere between a party planner, a therapist, a structural engineer, and a seer.

“Collaboration between all the specialists on a fit-out project is essential. No project can succeed unless the professionals work together to realise the retailer’s investment and bring the designer’s vision for outlet to life on time, on budget and to a quality standard,” as Campbell told Retail-Focus.co.uk recently.

At times, Campbell’s work is more like installation art than shopfitting, such as Campbell’s work at the Fortnum & Mason’s beauty floor, pictured at the top of the article. Campbell’s team savored the opportunity to preserve F&M’s wide-open floor plan, with a bright and airy look. Keeping things open was one of the major challenges, which PortView’s team of shopfitters negotiated by keeping all of the shop’s activities behind hoardings, preserving the minimalist aesthetic.

Shopfitters Sunshine Coast News

© Copyright by Stefan Reimschuessel.
All Rights Reserved.

A custom chandelier would prove to be the other most significant challenge facing the shopfitters – a challenge over which they clearly triumphed. Despite the lightweight, steel-and-chrome design, there is some heavy lifting going on, with a steel grid beneath the ceiling, supporting the massive chandelier, which also boasts an innovative control system.

Speaking of the future of shopfitting, Andy Shaw from the retail services group Styles&Wood spoke on the rising trend of e-commerce and physical retail working hand-in-hand, “The convergence between e-commerce and brick and mortar stores, as part of the continued drive by retailers to hone their omnichannel strategies, is placing new demands on fit-out contracts. In addition to the increasing need to integrate click and collect points, more retailers are encouraging customers to browse online offers while in-store – helping to mitigate against the showrooming phenomenon. This, coupled with a need to maximise service lines in smaller shops as the trend to favour convenience stores rather than out-of-town superstores continues, is seeing rising demand for tablet and desktop devices to be featured in prominent locations in shops.’

If you’re ready to see how shopfitters can help your Sunshine Coast business bring their visions to life, to create a truly exemplary customer experience, contact us today!

See The Future Of Shopfitting! London’s Retail Design Expo 2016 Preview Is Now Available!

Shopfitting Retail Design Expo 20162016 is shaping up to be a hallmark year for physical retail! We wouldn’t if we end up remembering this year as “The Year Of The Storefront”, given the recent rise in physical media sales. Even Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has opened a physical storefront in Seattle, WA.

The digital is simply not a replacement for the real. Customers are anticipated to return in droves, in 2016, in search of a high-end retail experience.

With that in mind, Sunshine Coast shopfitters and business owners alike will be eagerly watching the Retail Design Expo, scheduled to take place on March 9 – 10 in Olympia London.

A Taste Of Retail Design Expo 2016

The Retail Design Expo is Europe’s leading industry event for industry inspiration and innovation. Retail designers, marketers, merchandisers, and shopfitting professionals from around the world will converge on London in March to share the best, most exciting, retail design innovations for the coming year.

The Retail Design Expo Will Feature:

  • 250+ market-leading suppliers – from the UK and overseas covering the broadest range of innovation, inspiration, solutions and services from all supplier sectors
  • Designer Pavilion – housing cutting-edge design consultancies and architects
    17,000 visitors – from all around the world
  • Unrivalled conference programme – 75+ FREE sessions with star-studded speakers from around the world
  • NEW Shopper Marketing Conference – in association with POPAI
    VM Workshop – with leading specialists demonstrating their craft
  • Innovation Awards and Trail – showcasing the very best solutions, products and services the industry has to offer
  • Trends Experts – offering invaluable advice on how to grow your future business
  • Retail Design, Marketing and VM Visitor Lounges
  • Retail Design & VM Student Awards – celebrating the future stars of the industry
  • Boundless networking opportunities – throughout the two days
  • Co-located with RBTE and Retail Digital Signage Expo – providing 350+ retail solution providers, the biggest conference programme ever and unparalleled networking opportunities

Special Events And Conferences Will Include:

  • Current Trends Influencing Design
  • Store windows – working with principles of design
  • Putting shopper marketing is at the heart of everything a brand touches
  • Retail Digital Signage Expo
  • Why retail should be all about experiences
  • Designer Pavilion
  • Retail Design And Marketer Lounge
  • Keeping Stores Relevant For Today’s Consumer
  • How Brands Can Create A Point Of Difference To Attract Customers Into Stores
  • and many, many more!

To get a feel for the Retail Design Expo, check out this video from last year’s RDE:

Thinking of attending? Free Registrations are now open!

If the titles of these workshops and conferences are any indication, blending the virtual with the physical is this year’s hot topic! Get ahead of the curve, and contact one of the Sunshine Coast’s leading shopfitters today!

Not looking for a complete overhaul, but could use with a little sprucing up? Don’t worry! We offer commercial building maintenance plans for the Sunshine Coast, for all of your commercial real estate needs!


How Shopfitting Can Help Your Retail Business Grow

Shopfitters Sunshine Coast

With Physical Retail Back On The Rise, Shopfitting Will Play An Important Part In The Coming Year

Physical retailers have had a hard time of it, in the new millennium. 2013 saw half as much foot traffic in brick-and-mortar storefronts, according to ShopperTrak. The times they are a-changin’, as they say, as can be seen from the fact that Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has opened a physical storefront in Seattle, WA.

Whether it’s ease and convenience your customers are after, or the need for community in an increasingly digital world, brick-and-mortar storefronts are ready for a comeback!

Are you ready to capture this new traffic? Shopfitting your sunshine coast business ensures you’re ready to impress, by delivering the ultimate customer experience.

Growing Your Storefront With Custom Shopfitting

While we all may be getting a bit burnt out on e-commerce, online shopping has permanently and irrevocably altered our expectations, when it comes to making purchases. Customers expect an exceptional aesthetic experience, with custom lighting and interior design, which become extensions of your brand identity.

A lot of business owners don’t realize the powerful branding of the physical space. We are sensory beings, after all, and memories associated with sights, sounds, and smells are going to stand out from a bunch of anonymous letters on a screen.

Shopfitters In The Sunshine Coast Can Revitalize Your Physical Storefront By:

      1. Rejuvenating Your Brand Image: The increasing tendency to get out of the house, to go and wander in search of legitimate physical experience means your brick-and-mortar storefront is primed to receive a bunch of fresh eyes and ears. You’ll be welcoming back your loyal customers, as well. A shopfitting overhaul announces to new and old customers alike that you’re back in action, up with the times, and ready for the future.
      2. Pure Class: Customers of all walks of life have come to expect a world-class shopping experience, no matter where they’re going or what they’re doing. We all expect the royal spa treatment, no matter whether we’re buying avocados or a plasma TV. Upgrade your shopfitting to give them the world-class retail experience they crave.
      3. Increase The Amount Of Time Spent In-Store: Customers will want to hang out in your brand-new, elegant storefront all day long. More browsing means more impressions, more brand loyalty, more word-of-mouth referrals and, ultimately, more sales.
      4. Easy Location: We’re all used to being able to find what we want, quickly and immediately, usually without having to ask for help. Anticipate this need with an easy-to-navigate layout that will make your customers feel right at home, even if they don’t know why.

Want to find out more how shopfitting can help your Sunshine Coast retail business grow? Contact us today to find out more!