Richard Hamilton of HamiltonBIG, a creative retail and brand consultancy, discusses the benefits of a good shopfront

A window on the world works both ways when talking shopfronts. It’s your marketing showcase, so make sure it’s right.

Shopfronts come in all different styles and materials many dictated by the existing building, many by local authorities and many by budget constraints but there is scope for tailoring them to your requirements, a cost that can be well worth the money.

When taking over an existing store, the likelihood is that the store will have the previous tenant’s shopfront in place. Many retailers decide that the existing shopfront will do, but opening up a new shopfront through the right channels of planning, structural engineers if necessary and a decent shopfront contractor will really boost your business.

A bigger window on your world is vital to success. When it comes to the high street, it’s obvious that prime sites demand greater rents due to footfall and visibility, but off-pitch rents require more effort to entice customers. The more glazing the better is a simple rule, but do remember the direction of the sun and solar gain, as this can have a massive impact on your cooling systems. Solar film, blinds or an awning can help reduce this while maximising your branding abilities and further developing your showcase.

The Continental style of folding shopfronts are increasingly popular as café culture continues to evolve. And ’bringing the inside out’ is the ongoing desire for many retailers, as they open up the smell of freshly baked bread and coffee to passers-by, enticing them in. This is possible for both contemporary and historic buildings through timber, aluminium or seamless glass panels, all of which can be designed to suit.

Do remember that once the shopfront potential is maximised, there needs to be a store and a window display that accurately reflects what you are selling, who you are appealing to and which is constantly maintained, refreshed and kept clean. It can work both ways: a great shopfront will highlight everything you want your customers to see, but undoubtedly also show up what you don’t.

l Next month: classic mistakes when shopfitting and how to avoid them