Retailers including department stores, supermarkets and shopping malls worldwide operate in a highly competitive market. As well as competing for customers and merchandise, one key factor that spells success for retailers is how rapidly they can expand their operations by sustainably scaling up the number of their outlets. To accelerate the time to market of all new outlets it is important that retailers adopt a design planning process that helps them create retail concepts that are adaptable, clash-free and efficient to build/install within the planned budget.
Considering the need for faster scale up, design accuracy, higher design flexibility and cost efficiency, adopting building information modelling (BIM) techniques can prove to be a positive value proposition for the entire retail property development chain from design consultants and architects, to MEP installers and facility managers. Whilst transitioning from conventional CAD drafting processes to parametric BIM retail design techniques requires significant time and effort, retail BIM modelling helps property developers/owners meet the complex requirements of a fast-paced and competitive industry.
Rapid Development of Design and Construction Documents
Traditional CAD drafting techniques for building design require different trades to create separate drawings. These drawings, which sometimes run into hundreds of inconsistent documents, only convey design intent but fail to communicate vital information necessary for building construction, such as specifications, bill of materials, cost modelling and schedule data. On the other hand, the BIM process necessitates developing parametric 3D models containing intelligent data related to design intent, construction and facilities management information. All this data is combined in one master BIM model that is shared with all major stakeholders.
Whilst the success of retail BIM project depends on the degree to which all project participants (the architect, the MEP design consultant, the MEP contractor, the subcontractor trades, and fit-out specialists, among others) accept BIM as the way forward. The ‘real’ benefit of BIM is in the just-in-time extraction of different documents, data, and views including plans, sections, elevations, 3D perspectives, renderings, bill of materials, bill of quantities (BOQ), material costs, and time schedule. This means retail construction drawing sets, detailed designs, shopfitting drawings, or any construction-related data can be quickly extracted and generated on-demand from the BIM model.
Development of Standardised Re-usable BIM Families
As retail is heavily focused on brand image and brand appearance, a retailer may commonly use consistent fixtures and fittings across their retail network. BIM allows the retail design team to develop a standardised library of BIM families for those fixtures and fittings which can be reused and modified when designing and planning new outlets. This helps the retail owners maintain brand identity with regards to design intent, visual elements, shopfitting layouts, and consumer experiences. As well as reinforcing the retail brand, the design team can increase the efficiency and reduce time required during the conceptual and detail design stages by creating, maintaining, and updating distinct BIM libraries for distinct outlet chains.
For instance, BIM families can be created for key retail architectural elements including floor furniture, shelving, gondolas, seating, storage and cash register areas among others so that these factors remain consistent throughout all the outlets whilst leaving room for customising architectural details and other culture-specific elements.
Creating Store Prototype Models that Can Be Localised
Another area where using BIM adds business value to the retail owners is in the development of new prototype store designs. BIM prototypes are not just 3D dimensional visualisations of the design intent but they are tied to a rich database comprising detailed information on crucial aspects: fixtures, materials, components, building systems, energy analysis, quantity take-offs, and cost estimation. Developing such ‘smart’ prototype designs speed-up the roll out of new store designs than using traditional CAD drafting methods.
This serves the purpose of recreating a similar retail environment and ambience in several locations using the design standards laid out to encourage optimum customer experience. However, international chains entering a foreign market also get the flexibility of tweaking certain aspects according to regional preferences whilst keeping the overall theme and identity consistent. Additionally, using the ‘master prototype’ BIM model as the starting point helps all the major project stakeholders (architect, building services consultants, constrictors, installers, shopfitting professionals, and procurement specialists) to effectively collaborate thereby helping the team to move smoothly into construction documentation without any delay or loss of data from the design and programming phase.