The Chinese retail market is developing rapidly right now and may even become one of the most important retail markets there are. This is a valid reason to get to know this retail culture better. Shop designers and retailers should make sure to understand the wishes of the respective target group.
Architect Peter Ippolito has already participated in many shopfitting projects in China. During his work – which also brought him to countries like Russia and Switzerland – the managing partner of Ippolito Fleitz Group (IFGroup) has come to know the different approaches in the respective cultures when it comes to shop design.
He describes his experience like this: "Chinese retailers in particular have a fundamentally different approach when it comes to planning a shop than European retailers. Projects are carried out much faster here, because the companies are under a lot of pressure to further expand their store network."
A medium-sized retailer in Germany has about ten stores, whereas in China, a retailer with 100 to 300 stores can be classified as medium-sized. "The dimensions and time frames are very different. Creative ideas are implemented much faster than in other countries. This is especially challenging for us as designers but this challenge of course also allows us to creatively'rave out'.
However, there is normally little to no time for trial periods like they are customary in Germany", describes Ippolito. It can happen that there is as little time as two months between the signing of the service contract and the actual opening of the respective store.
This experiences are shared by the logistics company Lehnkering Logistics. As an expert for logistics for shop fitting, CEO Michael Sterk is well acquainted with the challenges for supplying shop furniture in the world’s fourth largest country: "When doing business in China it is vital to inspect the products with regard to quality and quantity before sending them to the actual store. Transporting a table for three thousand kilometers through China is much too expensive to then realize that you have the wrong product." This is why Lehnkering checks every delivery in Shanghai to save costs and time.