By Lyn Falk, Retailworks Inc.

YSN welcomes retail design expert Lyn Falk, who will contribute columns regularly on ways to enhance members’ showrooms, traffic and sales.

In all my 35 years in the retail design industry, I’ve never seen so much acrylic.

Acrylic face shields, sneeze guards and space separators on countertops, showcases and checkouts. Of course they are important and necessary, but please think carefully before you swiftly click “Buy and ship.”

What will these do to your brand and the look of your store? You’ve invested a lot of time, money and energy in creating an ambience that is reflective of your mission, supportive of your brand, that showcases your merchandise, and appeals to your target market. So don’t just place a bunch of hard plastic around your store.

Yes, acrylic is a seemingly benign material, but it can yellow, scratch, warp, damage surface finishes and, without the right hardware, can easily fall over or cause tripping hazards. These clear panels can also become head bumpers if not properly framed or outlined with some vinyl.

It’s important to buy quality pieces. Get testimonials from other users to make sure the acrylic and hardware are top quality.

So how do you visually integrate this sea of acrylic that is flooding your selling floor into your brand and store’s aesthetic? Consider them to be “functional décor”:

  • See if you can find hardware that matches one of your brand colors or if it can be powder-coated to match.
  • Have graphics created to “decorate” the vinyl, such as a patterned border, your logo or an iconic motif.
  • Put the same design on all countertop shields, and a coordinating design on all floor-standing panels so there is some consistency to the designs.
  • Order the floor panels with casters or glides for ease in moving around, as floor sets may be rearranged often to accommodate changes in traffic flow.
  • Look for systems that allow you to change out panels so you can use clear, translucent and/or colored panels. This will bring about a more sophisticated, intentional and branded look to these necessary shields.

We can all agree that acrylic panels are an essential part of doing business these days, but they don’t have to be an ugly part of our business. Just think strategically and carefully about how and where you place these items.

Lyn Falk is President and Founder of Retailworks Inc., an award-winning branding, design, display and consulting firm specializing in retail, corporate and hospitality spaces. A contributor to AVB’s store Makeover Manual, Falk has devoted over 35 years to teaching and helping retailers and business professionals build healthy, purposeful and productive spaces that move hearts, minds and merchandise. Contact Lyn at lfalk@retailworksinc.com.