Retail design isn't all about pretty fixtures and great displays – although those things are certainly important. You also have to take into consideration your flooring and ceiling design.
Retail flooring design focuses on two different areas: Floor covering, and store layout.
What should you choose for your store's floor covering?
It should fit your overall decor and add to your store's warmth and appeal
Above all, your floor coverings should fit your store's overall decor and ambience, but be able to stand up to plenty of traffic, too. Sturdy faux wood flooring or plush carpet are two ideas, with tile a third – but white institutional tile used all by itself may make your store look sterile and uninviting.
You can mix and match
It's perfectly fine to use carpeting AND wood or tile on your floor as long as you make the transition seamless. For example, high-traffic aisles in your clothing store could be made of tile, while you house clothing displays on plush carpeted departments set back from traffic areas.
You can cut corners (a little bit) if you have to
If you can't afford to replace all of your flooring at once, you can cut a few corners by reusing or leaving the old in place. Break up a starkly white tile floor by overlaying it with carpet and/or wood strategically; the white becomes an accent that's appealing, instead of an unrelentingly glacial expanse.
Store layout and traffic flow
A big part of your retail design will be your floor layout. You want your customers to be able to shop easily and efficiently, without being crowded.
The footpath should be wide enough for "traffic" to go both ways
Customers should easily be able to pass each other without bumping into each other.
The footpath should wander counterclockwise through your store
When customers come into your store, the first thing they do is to look left, then walk right. Set the footpath up so that customers will simply meander through every department leisurely; they won't miss anything you've got to sell, but they won't feel rushed or coerced into buying, either – even though that's exactly what they'll do because of your set up.
Ceilings are often only considered as an afterthought (if at all) during retail design, but they are an important part of your store's look and feel. Some elements to keep in mind:
Ceilings can have a major visual role in how your retail design looks and feels, but they need not be anything fancy; you might decide to do something as simple as painting standard white ceiling tiles with a slightly warmer color to forgo that institutional feel, for example.
Choose drop-down lighting or fixtures in warmer colors that will make it easy for your customers to see but feel inviting and welcoming at the same time.
Using windows or skylights
Windows and skylights can bring more light in naturally, if you don't have or don't want to install a lot of light fixtures in your ceiling. You'll need some artificial lighting for darker days and at night, but using natural light for at least part of your lighting needs is free once the initial installation is done; it can give your customers a mood boost, too.
Ceiling and flooring design probably factor in last as you are setting up your retail design checklists during a remodel or store set up, but it's more important than you think. Take it into consideration right from the start. You will avoid unforeseen problems, and improve your store's look and functionality, too.