Retailers focusing on sustainability can realize a number of benefits, including improved customer sentiment, great employee engagement and lower costs.
Athletic brand and retailer PUMA has experienced these perks since implementing a new design concept for its factory outlet centers. Colkitt&Co executed PUMA’s design model, a design firm focused on creating “innovation to impact,” according to Nathan Lee Colkitt, Principal and CEO of Colkitt&Co.
“I enjoy working with clients like PUMA who want to do good around the planet,” said Colkitt in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “It makes it more worthwhile.” The end result was a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Platinum-certified retail design that included fixtures made of recyclable materials and LED lights.
The newest PUMA outlet location, at Destiny USA mallin Syracuse, New York, was the latest store to be formally recognized with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification by the US Green Building Council, a third party organization that verifies the sustainability of buildings. According to USGBC, there are only 17 other Platinum level projects in the LEED ID+C Retail category in the U.S.
Walls On Wheels
The outlet design was created using mobile, interchangeable stock parts made of recycled materials, such as renewable wood and recycled metals. With this design concept, outlet employees can easily “put it together, but also take it apart and reuse it,” Colkitt explained. Now that fixtures no longer have to be attached to a wall, Colkitt said employees can “roll them out, set them up, and merchandise more than 25,000 units of products in a few days.”
Because the new fixtures are nimble, PUMA also can refine in-store merchandising based on consumer demands. In fact, these more flexible design concepts “make a lot of sense — both from a real estate and financial perspective,” Colkitt said. For example, if the brand managers decide to change the ratio of sneaker-to-apparel in a store, it can be reconfigured in real time. “Wall units flip, so the back side can be used for apparel and the front can be used for footwear. This allows stores to alter merchandising easily. It’s flexible, fun and can be done by two employees.”
There also is more flexibility to open stores in new geographic areas and simply reuse the fixtures for another store if a location ends up closing. Colkitt added that all outlet stores also use LED lighting, making the design approximately 35% more energy efficient than the national standard.
Going Outside The Four Walls Of The Outlet Store
PUMA was part of a growing movement to premium outlets that were capable of competing with the full-price market. To ensure success, the brand focused on creating an in-store experience inspired by its high-end counterparts.
“If consumers walk into an outlet, they don’t want to lose the experience,” Colkitt said. “They still want to feel like they’re being catered to.”
Together, PUMA and Colkitt&Co established the outlet concept around one core question: How do you make an outlet look, feel and smell like a full-price store, but make it more self-serve?
The PUMA outlets were designed to “do the opposite of what all other retail outlets were doing, which was stacking products to the ceiling,” Colkitt said. Footwear is positioned approximately four feet from the floor so all consumers get a good look at merchandise. Locations also are strategically designed so consumers can see a landscape view of the entire store as they walk in.
“The team came from the perspective of the shopper by letting the products speak for themselves,” Colkitt noted. “It’s super clean and simple, and a very thoughtful approach.”
At the center of a store is a lifestyle presentation that spotlights merchandise complementary to sneakers, such as wristbands, pants and hats, Colkitt added. “The design offered a 16-foot seating area at the center of the store and ‘pinwheeled’ footwear around it so people are drawn into the area where the footwear is.”