Browse the best shop fitting experts and compare ratings and reviews.
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Companies which provide a shop fitting service offer both standard retail and bespoke solutions to fit all tastes and requirements across the commercial and corporate sphere. Contrary to their name, shop fitters are also well able to cater for office fitting or refurbishment, although their main business lies in the design, manufacture and fitting of furniture and cabinetry for individual shops, restaurants and franchises.
Whether you are setting up a brand new store for a retail business just entering the market, or carrying out a rebranding and refurbishment of your existing business, a shop fitting service is your go-to contact company for all your needs. Shop fitters have many facets to their services, including assistance and advice with initial concept design and layout of the shop, manufacture of all associated hard and soft furnishings and fixtures, liaison with any outside contractors required on the project, and final fitting of all components in the design, from tiling or carpeting of floors and walls to shelving, counters and furnishings, as well as lighting fixtures. A professional shop fitter will take into account factors such as the restrictions your landlord may place on the overall design of your shop or its signage; for example, placement and size of the signage. When you are initially planning your new shop, you may inadvertently forget to take such considerations into your design, which could result in costly modifications having to be made after manufacture if not cleared with the landlord beforehand.
Shop fitting companies are the ultimate professionals, offering various specialised fields such as interior architecture and design, drafting of plans, 3D computer design technology, tiling, carpeting, signage manufacture and erection, construction and fitting of built-in components such as bulkheads, shelving, racking, point-of-sale units, counters and cabinetry, as well as unique lighting design. Buyers for the larger shop fitting companies attend trade shows, both in South Africa and internationally, thereby ensuring that they are kept updated with the latest retail trends and design materials.
Professional shop fitters are aware of the impact that the design and layout of a shop will have on customers. An attractive and invitingly designed shop will entice customers into it to browse, enquire about or buy items openly displayed in the window. Shops aim to bring foot traffic into the space and are designed to lead the customer to investigate further once inside the store. Fashion or clothing shop displays will therefore be designed to link various aspects of their wares, such as clothing, footwear, jewellery, scarves and similar accessories into complete outfits, where the customer does not have to actively search for such items. Factors such as these are important to the shop fitter during the design process, as he will need to know the main focus of the store and that of its customers.
All stores are aimed at different and specific sectors of the buying public. A hairdressing salon, for instance, is designed around the optimum efficiency of its workers, allowing them to work in a space which is bright, uncluttered, safe and easy to keep clean with minimal effort during the working day. Children’s toy or clothing stores are naturally bright, light and full of colour, which is reflected in the colours of the walls, floors and furniture, whereas jewellery stores, for example, are generally outfitted in subtle, warmer colours with plenty of dark wood on the counters and walls, and darker carpeting or tiling which exude an impression of opulence and luxury. Many restaurants are designed to provide a feeling of comfort and relaxation in an area with soft lighting, warm colours and above all, privacy whilst dining, whilst coffee shops and cafes have a more open aspect, allowing the customers to feel comfortable and part of a wider social community.
All of the above factors need to be taken into account when working on the initial design of your shop with the shop fitter. He has to convert your abstract ideas into a space which is attractive and inviting to its potential customers whilst being practical and functional. Your ideas may work well in your head, but it is up to the professional shop fitter to ensure that they fit the purpose in real life.
Larger shop fitting companies will be able to design, manufacture and fit all aspects of your shop themselves, allowing for a bespoke design which is unique to your brand. Smaller companies may offer a smaller range of in-house services, but will appoint and supervise outside contractors as required, usually those they have worked with previously and whose services are well known to them. You, as the client, will not be expected to project manage the work at any point.
Your choice of shop fitter is dependent on the results you are aiming for. If you want a shop which is unique in its appearance and which will make your brand stand out amongst all the surrounding shops, you need a bespoke design geared specifically for your needs. You need to find a company which offers outstanding personal attention to detail, and is able to share your vision for the finished shop, right through to manufacturing exclusive cabinetry and fittings not found anywhere else. If your requirements are less extravagant and you are happy to achieve a more standardised look, a smaller company which is less specialised could be the answer. When you see a shop with a particularly eye-catching design or layout, by all means ask the owner who the shop fitter was. Shop fitting companies advertise widely over the internet, and Uptasker is a valuable resource in this regard, particularly as it provides online reviews of the companies featured. You could also look in magazines, newspapers, home catalogues, the Yellow Pages, or attend trade shows if you have the time available and are not in a hurry. Always follow up on the company’s reviews and testimonials, paying attention to factors such as access to a designer, the provision of 3D computer visuals of the proposed finished look, quality of workmanship and adherence to agreed budget and time constraints.
Your shop, coffee shop or restaurant is your income, and its success depends in part on its ability to attract customers inside its doors to explore what it has to offer. It makes sense to optimise its visibility and appeal as far as you can. Never try and cut costs by doing this on your own. Employ a company which is experienced, knowledgeable and skilled in creating a space which will draw potential customers to your product and services, and much of your initial work is done for you. For more tips, see our shop fitter articles.