Firefox Retail Experience
Infusing Peerless Quality and Distinct Personality via Retail Design
Firefox, a leading Indian bicycle manufacturer, wished to improve their retail experience in terms of brand awareness, increased engagement leading to better footfall
They wanted to create a Retail brand ecosystem that goes beyond the sales and servicing to convey premiumness and brand promise
The team at Elephant decided on a customer-centric, product-focused approach and began devising solutions backed by exhaustive research that involved store visits, interviews and other forms of data collection across India, to understand gaps & customer pain points
Implemented an all-encompassing retail design system that touched upon every single aspect of the customer’s journey in addition to focusing on community development and after-sales engagement
The retail design overhaul added premium overtones, projecting the brand’s offerings, building upon a core that enhanced visibility and engagement while fostering trust
The Indian bicycle market before the mid-2000s was largely limited to children for whom bikes were an essential facet of their childhood, in addition to adults who purchased cycles as an economical alternative for day-to-day movement. Firefox entered a nascent market in 2005, associating the bicycle with aspects like leisure and sports – that was an established relationship in the western world.
Currently, the scenario is vastly different. The ‘mass’ segment has shrunk, with the mass-premium segment taking precedence, amounting to a 65% share as cited by the Financial Express. The premium segment also continues to carve a larger share and Firefox is a dominant player in the industry with offerings across the board. Known for its modern, edgy designs, high quality production and durability, a Firefox bike is necessarily a premium purchase but changes in the consumer mindset indicate a willingness to invest in a bicycle that goes beyond the standard norms.
Firefox approached the team at Elephant with the intent of vastly improving upon their retail experience. With the market otherwise being dominated by third-party retailers that hosted a variety of brands, they sought to stand out and provide an immersive experience that would be a testament to their premiumness, quality and commitment to their customers – potential or otherwise. They also wanted their stores to embody their brand personality, which would invite organic engagement and amplify brand visibility in a market that was constantly burgeoning with newer entrants.
No Trail Unexplored
Initially, the team focused on understanding the typical Indian bicycle retail environment – a task that was considerably challenging, given the sheer diversity and nuance involved. Combining one-on-one interviews across segments, store visits throughout the country and deconstructing the in-store experience into a step-by-step journey, we devised an exhaustive research program that would allow us to understand all kinds of consumer profiles and more importantly, pain points.
This resulted in a cluster of findings, some of which were extremely noticeable across the board while others were more area, or segment-specific in nature. In the Awareness stage, where the consumer interacts with the brand in a tertiary fashion (community, digital/outdoor ads, branding collateral), there was little to no effort as far as a concerted community development programme, or branding strategy was concerned. Storefronts would also often be cluttered, with no streamlining of categories, brands, display choices and so on. Consumers essentially enter most stores without clearly knowing whether their needs will be addressed, or being completely confident about their purchase unless they are consummate aficionados themselves.
The existing in-store experience added to this chaos, where consumers often associated bike shops with a sales-driven, unwelcoming approach while having no sense of belonging to a larger community of customers that had purchased the same brand. This extended to after-sales service where the system was reactive and only sprang into action once a problem was encountered. Most of these aspects essentially alienated the customer and the store – in tandem with the brand itself. There was no sense of ownership, or pride that was fostered by the in-store experience.
Firefox, with its own network of retailers and dedicated shops alike, had several opportunities to capitalize on these findings and stand apart by optimizing their retail experience to address them, amidst a host other pain points discovered by our team that left no trail unexplored.
Optimizing for the Professional, Premium Experience
The team at Elephant proposed a design approach that revolved around four broad aspects: Visibility, Engagement, Premiumness and Trust in order to tackle challenges on both a macro and micro level. This approach looked at improving the retail experience by tackling its every phase – be it awareness, in-store experience or after-sales.
The Store Design was looked at from a customer journey stand-point, where we began by building awareness about the store & bringing products into focus within the store. The Fascia was cleaned up and made prominently visible with a singular message that this is specifically a Firefox store. A 90 Degree Marquee placed in the corner helps reduce anxiety in locating the store from a side street. Front glazing offers good end-to-end visibility from outside and helps build confidence since the potential customer knows about the store and its offerings.
To amplify visibility, we created storefront designs that would generate curiosity, echo convenience and build a sense of confidence within the consumer’s mind, welcoming them to interact with the brand and their products.
Flagship bike models are displayed right up front on a compact rhomboid podium with a silhouetted cityscape backdrop, to grab attention and build a local connect. The efficacy of these bikes is no longer in question.
Every Bike an Island
A mixture of contemporary architectural practices, latest technology that enables informed decision-making and a visual hierarchy in the product display would all serve to underscore premiumness.
The Play of products happens on elevated Island podiums with a common triangular language that offers clarity about various categories – Women, Kids, Mountain, City & Road bikes, making the selection process easy. Unique orange painted FF bike frames, dynamically suspended from the ceiling, help direct a customer’s vision towards the brand wall.
The Island podium bases are fitted with glowing orange LED strip lights that accentuate the profile for a premium look & feel. Each podium showcases a single top-end model of that specific category against the backdrop of a lifestyle visual panel. This visual helps customers visualize their lifestyle in that scenario (mountain, city etc.). These panels in the brand colors black & orange carry forward a consistent industrial ‘Mesh’ design language that is also replicated across the store fascia, to reinforce the badass nature of the brand. Other category variants are displayed on the rear, for an easy touch & feel experience. This Island layout enables good, free-flowing circulation across the store.
The Interactive Toolkit
Engagement would be improved upon with the help of new community experiences/events, digitized service-management systems and personalization opportunities curated in a way that would encourage customers to share and be proud of their ownership. An example is The Fitt Bar, an engagement tool. This is placed at a vantage point, visible from outside and invites people to come in. It also allows customers to experience a bike ride on a demo bike, while they watch demo videos on the screen. Another example is the ‘Find Your Firefox’ panel, which consists of a floor-mounted interactive screen that allows customers to determine their ideal Firefox bike based on various selection parameters like Terrain, height, category, price range etc.
The Service area is now visible to customers and more aspirational, with better facilities, building reassurance that your bike will be looked after for a more efficient ride. The ‘Spike up your ride’ panel is a conversation-starter that allows customers/ store to announce events, rides etc. via a simple blackboard and easy-to-read local routes, via QR codes. Customers can watch the latest ad campaigns, Instagram posts, maintenance tips on the large format screen as they wait for their bike to be serviced.
Lastly, an increased sense of trust would be cultivated through a prominent in-store branding experience, replete with trained service personnel that could cater to consumers across the board: be they utter novices, or triathletes alike. We also recommended a mechanism that helped the brand stay in touch with their customers after purchase via targeted communication, servicing reminders and more.
The Fire in the Fox
Our design approach incorporated Firefox’s existing brand image and focused on developing certain facets of the brand’s personality to highlight them. Playing on sporty, go-getter and adventurous overtones, we designed the store to echo an unconventional, outdoorsy attitude that advocated for bold risks and challenges beyond the scope of everyday life.
This is possible because branding has been carefully positioned at a few strategic points, right from the entrance door handles to the impactful brand wall at the rear. This establishes the brand in the mind of the customer consistently throughout the journey.
We took inspiration from the quintessential symbol of speed and victory combined: the chequered flag, and abstracted patterns across several communication-based and visual elements. We also included bold contrasts, minimalist icons and aspirational messaging that created a complete, immersive environment where the displays would draw people in while an interactive selection kiosk, features and signages would cater to the needs of both: novices and pros.
The staff livery embodies these key brand propositions where a mixture of training and experiences helps customers during the discovery phase, while also catalyzing speedy, satisfying purchase decisions and professional after-sales service. In-store audio branding completes the environment and reflects Firefox’ rugged, risk-taking brand attitude.
With the bicycling market being historically male-dominated, inclusive communication is the need of the hour. No brand can remain reticent when it comes to women feeling welcome within their stores and by extension, the activity of bicycling at large – which is something we remedied via our communications and visual design recommendations.
To conclude, the team’s design solution did not simply provide a retail design solution, but also struck the heart of the brand’s identity and visual design system – given the importance of a powerful retail experience for those in the industry.
From making changes that will draw the consumer in via a premium fascia/store offerings pylon/targeted window display/aspirational graphics to providing a fully immersive in-store experience, replete with trained personnel who dispense meaningful advice – to giving customers a sense of pride when it comes to owning a Firefox cycle via influencer events, quality-after sales service assurances and other merchandise, this was an exhaustive yet inclusive attempt by the team to truly drive ROI while enabling a paradigm shift in consumer mindsets as far as the Firefox retail experience is concerned.
VMRD Awards: One of the most prestigious awards for the Indian Retail Design Industry, with over 250 entries for this edition.
Awarded by a globally recognized magazine covering brand development and rebranding. Awards are held all over the world in design hubs like London, Dubai, New York, Sydney and Mumbai.