Part B. Key Objectives
The “H and M” layout plan includes the key objectives of the facility layout, their implementation, and critical evaluation of a chosen model. As Gotts, Roper, and Payant mention, “Good design starts with a good concept and a good program” (p. 225). Thus, in order to provide maximum layout effectiveness, the following key objectives have been determined: efficient space utilization, convenient flow of movement, following output needs, ease of future reorganization, and visual attractiveness.
The “H and M” unit is located in the central part of the Manchester Smithfield market, occupying a 720 sq ft area. Its interior is divided into 5 main functional zones: sales zone, kitchen, checkout, entrance, and a staff room. No partitions are used with a view of saving space except the staff room that is an isolated area at the back of the premises next to the rear entrance.
The sales zone is the biggest part of the shop (400 sq ft), as it combines the functions of both display and storage space. It consists of smaller zones representing different types of goods. Coolers and freezers for perishable products such as meat, dairy, and fish are located along the left and the back walls. Fruit and vegetables are displayed in the containers on the right. Middle part holds shelf-stable products in packages, containers, and sacks that are organized on high vertical racks. Each smaller zone is clearly labeled, helping the customers easily orient. Vertical space is utilized as much as possible. Therefore, stair ladders are always available to provide instant access to the upper shelves. Convenient flow of moving is achieved by using single square-shaped blocks of racks that are allocated around the area in diagonals. Such layout allows customers to choose merchandise on their own. Furthermore, it is also beneficial for the safety of the place, as it provides good vision from the counter. Such space can be as well easily changed and looks creative and interesting for clients. Natural materials, such as dark wood, canvas, and cork prevail in the facility furnishing, conveying the idea of eco-design and high-quality home produce.
Kitchen and checkout units belong to the same zone (150 sq ft), which helps save space and provide better movement flow for employees. It is located to the left of the entrance and consists of the counter and slab. Checkout procedures are managed at the counter, so it is equipped with a computer, a cash register, and a credit card machine. The slab with all kitchen facilities (e.g. food processor, vacuum packer, and sink) is situated behind the counter, making the kitchen zone an open area that lets customers observe the working process. Such arrangement makes dealing with the order fast and simple, providing enough room for simultaneous work of two to four employees.
The entrance unit is an area of 70 sq ft to the right of the checkout unit. The floor tiles are designed with different colours directing the person to a particular area. For instance, green colour represents the fruit and vegetable zone, red is for meat, white denotes dairy produce, blue is for fish, and orange is for various packed foodstuffs. In order to greet new customers and supply them with useful information, the notice board is designed, displaying price lists, news, and special offers.
The staff area is a 100 sq ft room with a sofa, wardrobe, and lunchtime facilities: a table, a microwave, and a fridge. It is designed using green colours in order to create a relaxing atmosphere.
Part C. Efficiency Evaluation
The key objectives of “H and M” facility design have been the guidelines for choosing its implementation. Each step was analysed carefully and evaluated according to its effectiveness. “When work areas are logically arranged according to the principles of good design and the equipment is carefully selected to meet the specific criteria of the operation, the space will yield a high level of efficiency and employee productivity,” claims Birchfield (p. 119).
The principle of efficient space utilization is realized by using as much vertical space as possible. Though it means having some difficulty in dealing with stair ladders, advantages outweigh the drawbacks. No additional storage room is needed, more floor space is spared, and the opportunity to keep all goods in one place is received.
Convenient flow of movement is attained by the simple floor layout plan allowing plenty of space for maneuvering from one zone to another. As the authors of How to Run a Small Business state, ample space must be left by all means, since free movement is often undervalued (Lasser, 1994). Single rack units let visitors spend less time doing their shopping than the long-rows layout do.
Output needs are followed by providing proper storage facilities, e.g. freezers and coolers. In order to deal with products in case a customer wants them processed, a kitchen unit is equipped. Thus, this objective is met completely.
The ease of the future reorganization seems to be partly implemented. While the display zone would be easy to change due to mobile racks, other units are harder to reorganize. However, according to the “H and M” business plan, the company is intending to expand and change the premises for the bigger ones in three years.
Visual attractiveness objective appears to be attained. Natural materials, bright colours, and sufficient lightening create both relaxing and stimulating images for the customer. As “Store Design and Layout” summarizes, the customers must feel the positive ambience of the facility and leave it with a smile.
The main objective of finding the balance between utility and aesthetic elements is met. Though the layout plan has some disadvantages, which were mentioned earlier, it seems to be the optimal solution for the “H and M” facility for the present time, as coherence, which is regarded to be the key success factor by Retail Customer Experience, is attained.