VES (display value) and VEM (emotional value)- to crucial factors when designing a retail area

Article published in “Bellezza in farmacia” – Dec. 07

Creating an attractive and well organised space is very important when designing a pharmacy today and is destined to become even more so in the future. The first thing that a pharmacist has to consider when thinking about redesigning or simply refitting their pharmacy is the space available.

If we take 200 sq. m. as the average total surface area for most pharmacies, the aim of any project should be to use at least 150 sq. m. for the retail area. In other words, any project worth its salt must limit the non retail areas of the pharmacy (dispensary, prescription area, stock room, changing room, office, goods in area etc) to circa ¼ of the total surface area.

The beauty sector should occupy about 30% (45 sq. m.) of the total surface area given its commercial importance. If this 45 sq. m. was 10 m. x 4,5 m., then we could fit in two wall display units, 2 central ones back to back and 2 walkways. Both the wall and central display units would each have 8 shelves that are 30 cm deep.

If we divide the total display volume (ml) by the surface area of the space than the VES factor (display value) equals 7. This is the upper limit that should be obtained in a retail area. All available space has been used to display products and customers can easily walk around the retail space along the two walk ways. The space is watched over by CCTV as the central display units are as high as the walls, therefore not allowing staff to keep an eye our for shop lifters.

Pharmacists will be able to easily find out the best way to organise their pharmacies’ layout by always bearing in mind the VES factor. If you go over VES 7, then the space will be over-crowded and confused, making it hard for the client to find the product they are searching for and lead them to abandon any purchase. You should always aim for a VES factor of 7 or less as the lower the VES factor the more you make the retail area liveable and pleasant for the customer. If you go below 7, then you can also include some waiting areas, consultancy rooms for information, treatments and advice, as well as counters.

However, the optimal VES factor does vary according to different categories of merchandise on sale, the building and the pharmacist.

The building is an objective influence as every design has to take into consideration the structural limitations imposed by the building. The pharmacist is, however, a subjective influence on the design process, which can be defined as VEM emotional value.

VEM tries to translate the culture, tradition and specialism of the pharmacist in visual terms using various artistic and theatrical techniques that give each interior a very personal touch and make it unique. For example, Sartoretto Verna believes that a tree sculpture made out of cedar wood with its inimitable perfume has a far more powerful impact on the customer than another metre of display shelving.

To conclude, a good design is on where the building’s structural limits, VES and VEM are finely balanced.