How Design Adds Value To Retail Projects

Hiring a designer for your retail project can be a difficult decision. You may have already spent a lot of time developing something awesome only to find yourself stuck and unsure of what to do next. Maybe you haven’t even started yet. Regardless of where you are at in the process of developing a retail strategy for your product or service, you can benefit from the help of a professional retail designer.

I’ve been working in the retail design industry for nearly two decades and have been involved in the process on both sides: as a designer and a client. While you may not think you need a designer, or think you can’t afford it, I urge you to look at your project as a whole and then decide. Design is often overlooked and most brands scoff at the idea of actually paying for professional design work. But consider the decisions that are made during the design phase will influence most, if not all, of the downstream process AND their associated costs. The overall cost of retail projects can run from a few hundred to a few million dollars. The cost for design typically is a small fraction of that. The decision to invest in professional help may be a very wise one.

There are a variety of designers you may hire for your project depending on your needs, such as industrial, graphic and packaging designers. You may even hire a consulting firm that has one or more of these types that can be brought to bear. The various aspects of the design process are somewhat universal across disciplines. Designers bring value in many ways. It goes without saying that they are extremely creative, and know how to think like designers in everything they do. They are artistic, innovative and imaginative as well. Here are some other areas I’ll highlight that designers excel at, all of which will help your bottom line and assure your next project is an incredible success.

Designers know how to research.

Even if you know exactly what you want, a good designer will still do their homework to assure you are getting the best possible creative solution. Designers are naturally inquisitive, that’s why they got into the profession to begin with; they wanted to know why and how things worked so they could then create something new themselves. Research is a part of every project. It can be informal or formal depending on the project needs. Designers are trained to find answers utilizing a variety of means from store surveys, guest interviews, scientific research, trend research, among others. From all that information the designer can craft reports, trend boards, and presentations to assure clients are making informed design decisions. Many of the clients we work with hire us to solely for research services.

Designers provide comprehensive solutions.

Design isn’t done in a vacuum. It’s not drawing something pretty then walking away. A good designer will not only design something that is beautiful and functional, the solution will executable and work with the vast majority of end users. Retail design requires many considerations from manufacturing to installation; from how guests interact with the solution to how your brand is perceived in the marketplace. We even consider what happens at the end of life for whatever we’ve designed. Throughout the process and once a design is complete the designer can provide you with realistic computer renderings in case you need to go sell your solution. When it comes time for manufacturing, they can provide the specs necessary to turn your dream into reality. You may have thought of everything but when this much is on the line, hiring a designer more than pays for itself by way of comprehensive solutions.

They know how to get things done.

Once the creative solution is complete and the specs are done, the designer can help your team during the production process. They can help you get and evaluate production quotes and oversee production to assure everything is being made to your specifications. The designer is also valuable for answering questions from the various entities involved in making and executing your retail solution. If a problem arises, the designer can often come up with a solution on the spot so your project avoids costly delays.

Designers are great mediators.

Designers, especially industrial designers, tend to be the one common touch point between the client, sales, marketing, manufacturing, sourcing…on and on. Virtually everyone in the process works with the design team. And whether you like it or not, everyone basically has their own interests at heart, at least at a low-level. The designer is a natural-born mediator that is able to take complex situations and craft solutions that pretty much make everyone happy. Designers are extraordinary communicators, and salesmen, who can work with various parties to reach a consensus. It goes without saying that designers are excellent at managing projects as well; making sure everything goes off without a hitch. Given the opportunity, I feel this is probably the one area where clients can benefit the most from hiring a designer. They are professional problem solvers, and that goes for more than just the task at hand.

Designers are focused on the solution.

A good designer does what is right for your brand, organization and the world. An independent design consultant makes design and material decisions based on research and the needs of everyone involved; even beyond the scope of what the client has outlined. Good design is holistic and well thought out. You may be hesitant to pay for design, or you may be getting “free” design from your vendors. Consider pushing the “competition” portion of your project downstream to allow the focus to be on your needs, and you gain a valuable team asset, the designer, in the process. An independent designer isn’t worried about whether he or she will get a purchase order or something can be made in-house. They are focused on creating delightful solutions that are manufacture-able and executable at retail to the benefit of brand, retailer, consumer and world.

There are other ways a retail designer can help with your project; the ones I outlined here are just a few. Whether you are an independent retailer, a consumer product brand or a larger retailer, considering talking to a designer for your next project. I guarantee you that the value they bring will far outweigh the cost.

If you are interested in learning more about what our team can do to help with your next retail project, contact me at or by phone at (330) 858-8926.


Chris Weigand 

President, Chris Weigand Design

Peninsula, Ohio

We are a full service design consultancy specializing in retail design solutions for independent and chain retailers. We provided clients with research, design, sourcing and  project management services that assure they are getting world class solutions that delight their guests and enhance their brand in the marketplace.


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