Shop fitting is the process of configuring the inside of a shop to meet the needs of the owner and various users. Some owners may handle their own shop fitting, while others hire consultants and specialty firms that perform this service. For franchises and chains, the parent company may send a specialist to fit each branch to make sure it conforms with the general look and feel the company wants customers to associate with it. Shop fitting can be expensive, as the store may need to buy fixtures, displays, furniture, and decorative elements.
The first step in this process is an assessment of the space, complete with detailed measurements and an evaluation of immovable walls and other fixtures. With this information in hand, it is possible to start roughing out design layouts. These must take the purpose of the store into account. A retail clothing store, for instance, needs broad, airy spaces with room for browsers along with dressing rooms, counter space, and storage. A hardware store needs a very different look and feel.
These interior design drawings can be very detailed and will include specifications for counters, shelving, and other materials. The designer can also consider color schemes for decorating, what kind of art should be present in the space, and other features. Once the designs are ready, installation of major appliances can start. The shop fitting may include refinishing walls and floors, installing display windows, and other activities in the shop space.
As the shop is fitted out, it may be necessary to make minor changes to address design concerns. The design also usually builds in some flexibility to allow the owner to reconfigure the space in the future. For instance, a store owner might want to be able to wheel racks around to change the look and feel to appeal to customers. The shop fitting designs must accommodate these changes with movable fixtures and design features that will look good with any store layout.
This process can take days or weeks, depending on the size of the store and how much work it needs. No stock can be moved into the store until the fitting is finished, and thus the owner has an incentive to finish it quickly, so he can open his store to the public. Some shop fitting companies offer expedited service and can complete the process of getting a space ready for use within a weekend. Others may need more time for custom designs and other considerations.