Monday, May 5, 2008

A Lifecycle Approach to Retail Store Development


Prototype stores are never built.

No matter how precisely the engineer tunes the interplay of the kitchen systems and the operating requirements; and however artfully the interior design matches lighting, surfaces, display fixtures and shelf space to brand message, consumer traffic and demographic, the ideal prototype will confront harsh reality during construction.

Parcel limitations and historic facades and zoning restrictions constrict available space. Local architects, contractors, franchisees and even attorneys make a series of decisions that contribute to a unique design for each location. Can anyone find a record of what was in fact built?

Store design is the result of the layering and revision of hundreds of thousands of discrete bits of information from hundreds of sources. The roles of the participants may be well-defined, but their work is highly interdependent. The cabinet-maker takes space away from the checkout queue. The size of the refrigerator impacts the dairy delivery schedule. Unless these interdependencies can be managed, errors, rework and delays will be the norm. Does anyone track, much less control, modifications to the design over time?

The challenge of cataloging and maintaining the specifications of these completed designs has been so daunting that virtually no chain operator has attempted it. Instead, they dispatch armies of surveyors and interviewers to the field whenever they choose to consider a menu addition or operating change that might impact the physical requirements of the store.

Knowledge carefully compiled as designs are completed has been carelessly set adrift, retarding innovation.

It need not be so. With forethought, clear intent and appropriate tools an organization can architect a holistic, collaborative, knowledge-preserving capability for managing the store development lifecycle.

The tools to manage this kind of complexity have been developed, but not yet adapted for the retail industry. Commonly referred to as Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems, this technology enables designers of complex, interdependent mechanisms to work separately and collaboratively. Using PLM tools for managing projects, workflows, digital content and rapid visualization, leading chain operators are bringing store design solutions out of the research laboratory and into the boardroom.

Retail Lifecycle Management™ (RLM) is the emerging framework by which retailers will adapt the best practices of PLM to manage the evolution of the design of their stores, assortments, menus and concepts. It will provide chain operators with the tools, processes and management systems to sustain timely, profitable development of their most proprietary assets--their stores.

See our other posts on Retail LIfecycle Management by clicking the RLM link in the Index of Topics on This Site in the sidebar to the right of this blog. See in particular our post Design is Destiny.

To learn more about our work in consulting, read about our Practice or check out our Case Studies


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