If your business is within the retail spectrum, it goes without saying that the customer comes first. Everything within your premises is there to make them feel as comfortable as possible, encourage them to stay for longer and push them towards buying. Much of what happens in store design is down to psychology – such as escalators being placed at the back of the store and the most popular products displayed on mannequins for the best viewing. However, the practicalities of retail design shouldn’t be ignored either. Retail air conditioning allows you to maintain a comfortable environment while promoting your business persona as one that cares about its customers. In this guide, we’ll go through everything you need to know about finding the right air conditioner for your retail store.
Why Is Air Conditioning Important?
According to research, your business has 7 seconds to make a good first impression on every customer that walks through your door. Remember that we live in an age run by the internet, where most products are available at the tap of a button. Visiting a store is becoming a luxury that many people set aside time specifically for. For others, it is a necessity and not necessarily one they look forward to. Within these 7 seconds, not only do you have to convey that the products you have available are worth parting money with to own. You also need to create an environment that encourages them to come in further than the front door. And, one that means they’ll stay for longer when they do.
It pays to also take into account your employees in this consideration. For one, you are responsible for maintaining a healthy and safe working environment. The HSE Approved Code of Practice suggests that workplaces should be a minimum of 16°C, or 13°C if the work involves ‘rigorous physical efforts’. Other research suggests that the ideal temperature for a retail store is anywhere between 20 and 24°C, depending on the time of year and external conditions. If your employees are too hot, they run the risk of dehydration and exhaustion. While there is no law set out for a maximum working temperature, a risk assessment will help to identify whether the top temperature recorded in your workplace presents a hazard to your workers. Happy employees equal more productivity and a better front-facing image for your business.
Retail-Specific Temperature Challenges
As we mentioned above, the temperature has an impact on sales and employee productivity. Being able to control the internal environment of your store gives you a competitive edge and allows you to better manage safety for your workforce. If we look at a retail setting, there are specific challenges that increase and influence the overall feeling of the premises during the day. These include things such as:
- High numbers of moving individuals at any given time (both employees and customers).
- High voltage lighting throughout the building – specifically in central sales-focused areas and changing rooms.
- Equipment, such as tills and stock management systems.
- Other stores in the surrounding area, such as restaurants or bars.
These functional issues can amplify your complications with temperature. There may be others too that are outside of your direct control. To stay in line with branding and make an impact on the high street, many businesses opt to set up stores in listed and historic buildings. While the aesthetics of these are second to none, they generally have little ventilation and are built from denser materials. This means that you’re likely to experience very hot summers or very cold Winters, without the support of tailored air control equipment at your disposal.
Does my retail premises need air conditioning?
As with any business decision, whether or not you decide to invest in air conditioning will depend on your individual situation. If you’re working with a larger building, the financial investment here may exceed your budget for the year. If you’re working in an external building (one not situated in a shopping centre), you may try other ventilation solutions such as opening windows and using fans. However, it is when these methods no longer suffice and you’re up against mounting heat during warmer days that many people turn to air conditioning units as a viable solution. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you find that productivity lags during the warmer months?
- Do you notice customers fanning themselves while in the store?
- Do you have multiple lights on at any given time?
- Do you find that windows aren’t offering ventilation?
- Are you noticing mould build-up in the corners of your windows?
- Do your electricity bills soar during summer?
Things to Consider When Choosing an Air Conditioner
When sourcing an air conditioner for commercial use, we always recommend working with a professional company. Our team here at Controlled Climate will design and install a full system to ensure it meets your store’s unique strengths and demands. With these environments being technology-heavy and high-traffic, the needs are very specific and the right system should be tailored to your exacting requirements. A number of things you can begin to consider include:
Air conditioning units should always be set up correctly for space they’re cooling down. A too-small unit won’t have the strength to maintain your desired temperature. A too-large unit will cost you significantly more in running bills. We have a blog post entitled, ‘What Size Air Con Machine Do I Need?’ here which will give you a rough idea of unit size.
Like any addition to commercial premises, you need to ensure you’ve budgeted appropriately for a new air conditioning unit. Take into consideration how having one on hand could reduce the need for fans and other cooling devices. And, take into account whether you’ll have it running 24/7 or only during specific months.
The benefits that come from having an air conditioning system installed in your retail premises are significant. And, with over 25 years of experience, the Controlled Climate team is here to ensure you get the right solution for your business. If you would like more information about how our services work or to discuss your project, please get in contact today.