“You only get one chance to make a first impression” is particularly true in the retail world where more brands aim to create Instagrammable moments for their customers. Fresh flooring solutions for retail environments can help to engage the consumer and communicate a company’s brand image.

“Nowadays, flooring is the maximum impact zone, as people are constantly looking down at their devices,” said Larry Browder, chief sales and marketing officer, Karndean. “Retailers can use this to their advantage by using flooring to guide customers to key displays or points throughout the store. It’s important that flooring in the entrance of a store be visually exciting to draw customers inside.”

People expect experiences out of the spaces they’re in, whether that’s at home, in the office, or in an Instagrammable space within retail. 

“If you follow Instagram feeds, everyone is portraying their best life and are seeking out those spaces with photo opportunity,” said Terry Mowers, vice president commercial design, Tarkett North America. “When you apply this to flooring, you can look at it several ways. The modularity of today’s flooring allows designers to create zones where these moments happen. The design should feel unique, special, local. How do you design for social interaction? Think about ways to engage someone who hasn’t yet been in the space through your flooring and material choices.”

The right floor should serve as a functional solution for color, texture and pattern needs that reflect a brand’s purpose and vision. 

“We continue to see brands that want to reflect their values within their retail space, and that often comes to life through the creation of comfortable spaces that promote an enjoyable, fun shopping or dining experience,” said Shannon Chochran, vice president of creative design, Patcraft. “Each is made possible through thoughtful flooring choices that enhance a brand’s environment. Consider how your expectations for performance can move beyond durability standards. Exceptional flooring should contribute to the feeling of the brand as well as blend effortlessly with the aesthetic of a space in order to promote happiness and functionality for the end-user.”

Even online retailers are capitalizing on this trend by going analog with select brick-and-mortar locations, and those spaces are increasingly experiential. In fact, Tarkett offers a series of continuing education unit courses that tackle this topic.

“Neoculture is how we’re seeing the creation of an entirely new culture, and it’s one that will be heavily driven by the A&D community,” Mowers said. “Neoculture’s effect on retail spaces is one of our examples in the series.”

The look of a floor should align with a brand’s personality. A retail space geared toward a younger demographic can be fun, colorful, and more experimental; whereas a store appealing to an older demographic should have flooring that’s more traditional, Browder said.

These audiences can be addressed in numerous ways. Designers can go bold with a custom logo or image created out flooring material. Alternatively, a beautiful, subtle way to help tell a brand’s story is by carrying flooring up the walls.

At NYCxDesign Week in May, the Sight Unseen OFFSITE showcase was a prime example. OFFSITE, which is an annual showcase of contemporary design by independent design studios, used nine colorways of Tarkett’s Plexus Colour IV in their installation and matched it with complementary slightly lighter paint on the walls to carry the color theme up to the ceiling. “Doing this in a retail space in brand colors, even if in small areas, can help identify your brand without the need for giant logos everywhere,” Mowers said.

While flooring may be one of the last things to go into a space, it can totally transform it.

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“When designers choose flooring, they sometimes have to be concerned with budgets and what the project will allow,” said Melissa Quick, commercial product and marketing manager, North America, for AVA by Novalis Innovative Flooring. “However, for those who are given the freedom to design spaces on projects with the goal being about customer experience – possibly using different flooring materials that create a modern and welcoming feel and combining materials that make a statement and gives the story of the flooring brand, while making a bold statement about the business owner as well.”

Quality standards, such as materials low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and meeting Greenguard Gold Advantage, also says that an owner is concerned with their customers’ overall wellbeing while in their spaces, which speaks loudly to the type of business and owner they are, she added.