Retail design expert Nick Butterfield explains why he believes store layout directly affects sales

Has the consumer come to expect presentation perfection?

Staring out over a sea of wheels, a muddied carpet and tired displays? Unhappy with it? Retail designer Nick Butterfield explains why he believes that the consumer has come to expect a certain level of presentation from shops on the High Street…


In these days of economic depression the retailers on our High Streets are really struggling to survive, as they are continually undercut by the internet traders. We’re all guilty of purchasing goods in this convenient, unemotional way as it saves money, time and effort as your well earned cash gets clicked away in this two dimensional shopping mall.

I’ve been creating retail concepts now for over twenty five years, and it seemed like a good career option when I left art school – little did I know that the computer age would possibly make shops redundant. Or has it? Without deliberately sounding like Jeremy Clarkson, I’d like to give my opinion about the future of the High Street and the resurgence of bike shops. You see [there I go again], women mainly populate the shopping centres and CBD areas for a shopping fix, and they love browsing and touching, and having coffee and a bite at Pret – then they go home and buy online.

Blokes, however, are destination shoppers – they don’t have time to trawl around, and they don’t really want to. They can get their fix from glossy mags which keep them up to date on the latest boys toys and must have gear. Although recently I am beginning to see them shopping like women – what’s happening?

The bicycle shop is about to have it’s rebirth, as I see the future of cycling exploding into a fashionable statement of who you are as well as a means of getting around and for some others, a sporting challenge or two.

Getting the look right comes with riding experience, and you’ll learn all the fashion tips from keeping your eyes open. London, and the UK is widely regarded as the coolest place on earth and especially the shopping. We are an innovative country with receptive consumers that makes us brave enough to try new ideas.

A couple of years ago it dawned on me that I could not recall ever seeing a decent bike shop – anywhere. How was that possible? I delved into the world of Google looking for innovative and just plain nice bike shops, and there were none – anywhere, not even in the US. So I approached my local bike shop and presented my portfolio of retail store designs and explained to them the importance of a consolidated ‘brand expression’ and emotive engagement of a ‘customer experience’. They looked at me as if I’d presented my proposal in Mandarin – quite a glazed look it was. To cut a long story short, they bought into the idea and now their shop stands proud in Hampton Wick, providing South West London with a showcase of brands and a real lifestyle shopping experience.

This popularity of cycling has created a multi billion pound industry and consumers are even more challenged with an endless amount of choices which can be a minefield of stress, even for the obsessive bike addicts.

This investment [what we say to our partners] is one of life’s big purchases, just behind the car, house extension and Caribbean holiday. So with this in mind, this shopper deserves a better standard of experience.

Once they’ve spent around three grand on the bike, another grand on the clothes, helmet, shoes, lights and tools they are all set until the next visit when they need different tyres, better saddle and a nice pump. Somehow visiting the bike shop is a necessary part of the weekend activities – you just can’t not go.

This secret life with the bike shop is going to get better as more and more bike shop entrepreneurs look for new ideas to differentiate themselves and convince the cycling consumer that the un-interactive experience they have with their PC is very dull, when they should be immersing themselves within all that a great bike shop can offer.

What I do think however, is that there soon will be a shop that combines the virtual technology of bike building in an immersive environment, attacking all the senses and emptying their purses.

On that bombshell, I’d be happy to discuss any new business plans regarding bicycle shop environments and branding – email:

About Butterfield Design
Butterfield Design is owned and managed by Nick Butterfield and is located in Esher, Surrey.

Buuterfield’s experience in retail design spans over twenty-five years since qualifying at Kingston University in 1986. He spent a short period working for several global branding agencies and then set up on his own in 1995. His portfolio of work and clients is to say the least, extensive. From Harley-Davidson to Vodafone and from Specialized to Sainsbury’s he’s created new, innovative retail environments for a wide variety of consumer markets.

Currently he is working on projects in South America, as well as for UK-based clients.

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