Asia Retail

Information and navigation systems in shops

Kira Kanayan, Ruben Kanayan, Armen Kanayan

© Kira Kanayan, Ruben Kanayan, Armen Kanayan

Excerpt from the book

Planning Shops and Shopping Centres

Modern shopping centres are distinct by their large size. They extend in all directions and can be whole shopping cities over several levels. As the number of retail outlets grow, customers only remember the lay-out of their favourite shops that they regularly frequent. When customers visit a shopping centre only occasionally (for example specialty stores) they will have to re-learn their way around. That is why creating systems for directing customers and showing them the way is very important.

A set of measures for creating navigation systems

The technical terms “wayfinding” and “signage” are not synonyms when planning and building public buildings. The first term is seen as an indicator of the way, directing and orientating the visitor in an unknown space. The second term is the making and placing of signs and indicators which are only halfway to resolving the problem. The task of orientating people in public buildings was first analyzed by the architect Kevin Lynch in the sixties and researchers looked into it in more detail during the next ten years. The process of orientation and finding the way became a theme for study in the West; requirements were drawn up using the results of the research which could be applied to different types of buildings including shopping centres. For example the American architect Romedi Passinini and a specialist in orientation, Paul Arthur defined finding the way in public places as a process composed of two stages: The first is taking a decision and making a plan of action and the second is putting it into practice. At each stage the shop visitor should feel no inconvenience and only then successful purchases become possible.

People who find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings should know where they are in the building or at least roughly imagine the lay-out of the centre to determine the direction in which they need to go to get from one place to another. The building’s architecture and graphic means of navigation should help them, however they can also hinder, perplex and disorientate. The system for showing the way and the information media are important components for the success of a commercial enterprise. Visitors to shopping centres often have difficulty in finding a particular type of product, getting to the shop they need or even the right level. It is essential to look at how visitors perceive the system of showing the way in shops and shopping centres: Do they find it convenient and simple or does it annoy them. According to research data the group of factors connected with difficulty in finding the way and/or with information which is difficult to access takes second place after unhygienic and cramped conditions on the list of reasons of customers having a negative attitude to a shop. On the other hand customers highly rate a convenient navigation system in shops. According to the results of research carried out in Russian shopping centres, customers noted the navigation factor as one of the most important. Easy orientation shows that care has been taken over the customer. This gives the customer confidence in the shop and makes him want to go there more often.

It is difficult for some architects to understand that many people do not have the same spatial thinking as themselves (if that was the case competition to study architecture at university would probably be ten times more difficult). The ability to find and remember the way differs in people depending on their level of education, personal characteristics, age and sex. It is considered that women have a worse sense of direction than men. We have even heard the extreme view at focus groups on the retail trade that women have their own “geographical cretinism”. That is why a more customer friendly environment is important for women. For some customers it takes one only visit to remember where the key places are, but many others will roam and constantly ask the way.

On a first visit to a large shopping centre many customers will find themselves in a situation described in a popular fairy tale: “go there, I don’t know where, find something I don’t know what”. Many simply come to look, drawn in by the advertisements of a newly opened shop or shopping centre. While he is making his way the customer constantly comes across reference points, such as markers identifying different areas, signs and indicators. Indicators help the visitor find his way to the departments and products which interest him and turn his attention to products he has not previously considered. As a rule, a visitor to a shopping centre determines his whereabouts in relation to the entrance (or entrances), large “magnet” shops and interior features which stick in the mind. These interior features help the customer find the places he likes in a shop and encourage impulsive buys. Choosing products in a shopping centre is more convenient when a visitor is able to find his way around the shop.

The customer’s need for a convenient navigation system should be taken into account in the first planning stages. The owners of the trade outlet and planners should work together on the problem and later the interior designers join in. The navigation system in a commercial building is made up of three stages:

  • The planning stage
  • The interior designer’s means and methods of helping direction and orientation
  • Audio, graphic, tactile and interactive means of showing the way and giving information to customers

The main part of the navigation problem in shops and shopping centres is resolved in the first stage – the planning stage which defines a customer’s route. In the second stage touches are added, which give the visitor extra help to find his bearings. Effective architectural navigation keys are shopping rows or the main aisles on the shop floor, product or non-product landmarks and lighting which create a map of the building in the visitor’s mind. In a multi-storey shopping centre the task of orientation is more difficult and it is very important to give a clear indication of the different levels in the building. This is especially the case when buildings are comprised of several blocks which are connected by passageways and also when trade outlets have been converted from industrial and administrative buildings. Their floors often do not coincide, which gives way to in-between mezzanine floors. These floors should be attached to the main shop floor with the help of well signed passageways. It is essential to put a logical choice of products in these places. Then the mezzanine floors give a maximum return and do not turn into a problem corner so the “space did not go to waste”. We once went to a shopping centre in Primorye and simply worked out there was another shop. Like Sherlock Holmes in one of Conan Doyle’s stories who discovered a secret room where the criminal was hiding: After comparing the outer proportions of the house with the inner dimensions of the room, he saw there was a difference. Places where it is possible to go up a level should be clearly marked including lifts, which are used by the elderly, women with children and people with restricted movement.

The system of signs and indicators is there to help customers find their way, but it should not be the only source of information. The way the building has been designed should give the customer direction. If the space has been badly organized it is not going to help to add signs because people simply may not pay attention to the signs and indicators. One of the most important principles when developing a navigation system is the structuring of information.  Too much information on signs and store directories is just as bad as too little. Many readers will have heard about the “white noise” technique developed by secret services in the twentieth century in order to conceal important information: A huge amount of unimportant information was given alongside important information. Often equal importance was attached to all the messages. In this way it was extremely difficult to pick out the authentic and most important messages from the mass of other information.

When choosing information for store directories on different floors it is essential to make a hierarchy of information. This means finding a way of giving information to a customer who is immersed in doing his shopping. It is essential to keep to the following rules:

  1. Navigation levels should be highlighted and standards worked out for every level. So called spatial navigation and intellectual navigation differ from each other. Spatial navigation should help the customer determine where he is going. Intellectual navigation is for the customer to understand what to do in the sales’ area and to make it easy for him to see and choose the products. For example the first stage of spatial navigation in a department store is to indicate the product categories and plan the indicators for the different areas accordingly. The next stage is the indicators within the areas. The text on the sign can either indicate a specific place where the products are used (“bathroom items”, “bathroom towels”) or a product category (“dining services”, “kitchen utensils”). Intellectual navigation uses indicators when there are groups of similar products presented on one or several stands. The font for products and services must be the same for each floor. If symbols are used on one set of navigation indicators, they must be used on all the signs on that floor. Intellectual navigation is particularly important in specialized shops. It not only helps a customer to find his bearings when there are numerous products, but also arouses interest in different products and more importantly stimulates sales. Sometimes shop owners object to additional navigation aids, considering them an extra expense. They think customers will find what they need. Some designers also have objections: In their opinion an abundance of signs can spoil a shop’s interior. This is not so. Well made signs will never spoil an interior. On the contrary they help sales.
  2. The navigation logic, numbering and division of a shop or shopping centre into different areas (sectors) should be easily understandable. A shopping centre can be divided up into zones or floors or different areas (for example, ladieswear, menswear or young fashion). If there is some kind of theme used in the codification of the shopping floors, then it must be used everywhere and not be confused with another. There should be logically ordered rows. For example if the rows have been named after composers - Mozart Row or Beethoven Row – then logically the next row should also have a composer’s not a scientist’s name. An example of thematic navigation is shown in the picture: A general theme unites the signs, indicators, interior frescoes and graphic art on the building façade and the symbols for the areas in the underground car park. There are cases where the space has been badly organized contrary to the interior lay-out and even clashes with its basic logic. We will give an example: According to its plan the shopping centre has four areas composed of two main galleries which form a cross. But there are seven sections on the plan. The visitor looks at the plan and clearly sees that the plan is divided into four parts. Why seven sections? If there were at least eight, it would be a multiple of four. Or five: A central area divided into separate sections. However with seven sections it immediately becomes more difficult to find one’s bearings. If a shopping centre has the word “galleries” as part of its name, it is a good idea to not only have them in the plan but also to paint their walls a different colour. Such codification of different areas helps create an individual trade outlet and consolidate its distinctive features.
  3. The main entrances should be clearly marked. Final destinations should be determined in the planning stage and in all the plans, so that the visitor to the shop or shopping centre knows where he is going. The principle of final destinations has even been used in Japanese and Chinese prints and water-colours: It is not permitted to paint a road leading to nowhere. These paintings cannot find buyers since the majority of people want to see where the road is leading.
  4. The volume of information in the navigation and information system should be limited. Visitors will only read information if this is so. A large amount of text or small print and the information is ineffective. This style is more appropriate to newspapers and magazines which people read in a quiet environment.

When creating an environment where it is clear and easy to find one’s bearings, it is essential to remind ourselves of the principle of repetition helping people to remember things. All the components of a shop (the name, the lay-out, the design, the assortment of goods and the system for giving information and showing the way) should complement each other and emphasize the owner and planners’ envisaged image for their shop. The larger the enterprise means there are more opportunities for creating an image. Large specialized shops and shopping centres must have a striking individuality otherwise it will be difficult for them to survive. The law of total image is also known as the “axe law” – it is difficult to chop wood if you strike it in different places. A shop can be perceived as exquisite and refined or at the other extreme simple and rational. The ways of codifying different areas should be chosen depending on the image. One of the most difficult tasks for a shopping centre is coordinating the principles for window design and company navigation with the general system in the shopping centre. Tenant shops should be individual and clearly stand out, but at the same time their design should not destroy the unity of the interior and general image of the shopping centre. This is always a problem for owners and managers of shopping centres and for the designers.

Three components are used for the codification of areas in a shopping centre:

  1. Letters, numbers or text.
  2. Symbols. Graphic symbols (pictograms) help people understand and remember notices. They are clear to all customers whatever language they speak. That is why symbols are particularly important in commercial enterprises in large cities, tourist areas and on transport.
  3. Colour. The colour of an interior, the signs and different areas on the plan of a commercial centre should be linked to the text and symbols. The effect of colour can be heightened or toned down by appropriate lighting. In intimate areas there could be dim light and in places for demonstrations it could be bright. Public places (for visitors) and service areas (for staff) can also be made clear with the help of colour and lighting.

The correlation of different elements is used even in the codification of the toilet areas. In several restaurants, which have been decorated in a national or classical style, the symbols on the toilets are silhouette images of men and women in Middle Age or national costume and the words “Women” and “Men” are absent. Complicated ringlet hair-styles, head-dresses and high collars mean that it is not being possible to know the sex of the person on the sign at first glance especially if the customer has had a drink or two. Restaurant employees have noticed that people often make mistakes with these types of signs and end up in embarrassing situations. A standard approach is clearer and most importantly avoids confusion. Effective marking of the men and women’s areas could be achieved with the help of colour: In the first place the sign itself and in the second place the colour on the walls and floor. Traditionally warm tones are used for the ladies’ area and cold tones for the men’s area however this is not a strict rule. A possible option is to use bright and aggressive colours for the men’s area and soft pastel colours for the women’s area.

In shopping centres signs and indicators help make places stay in our minds and that is why it is very important to co-ordinate the tenant shops’ signs and the concept of the shopping centre itself. There are three approaches to sign design.

  • All tenant shops’ signs should be done in one style. The sign’s format (size, colour and type) must be common for all. The company style of a business, café or service should only be in the shop-window. This approach is usually adopted in commercial office blocks and cultural office complexes which also have a commercial function.
  • Some design element on all the signs (tenant shops’ signs and direction signs). Usually the element is connected to the design theme of the commercial centre and appropriate colours are chosen. For example a design along the top of the sign may be the common element on all of the signs.
  • Only the shopping centre signs are done in one style (for example “Parking”, “1st Floor” etc) and there are no requirements or restrictions on the tenants’ signboards and signs even regarding size. This approach is the exact opposite of the first one and can lead to a lack of co-ordination and disharmony in the interior. 

We now go over in detail the different types of navigation and store directories. They are divided into graphic, audio, tactile and interactive. So far “silent information” predominantly prevails in shops. However with the development of multi-media technology sounds and voice can be put in shop walls and navigation methods and store directories could find a voice. All types of navigation methods not only help the customer, but they also improve communication and make interaction between the customer and the shop more effective.

Graphic systems of navigation and store directories

Signboards, signs and indicators, colour coded systems, maps and diagrams and also brochures and advertising leaflets for the shop or shopping centre are all means of graphic communication with the buyer. For these to be put to effective use for the customer, there are a set of requirements for each one.

1. The map (a diagram of the trade outlet)

A plan of the building is never superfluous. It is essential to put one at all of the entrances (the main and side entrances to the building, the entrances from the carpark and in large multi-storey centres at the entrance to each floor). A map is also needed where the aisles in shopping centres branch in different directions and the visitor has to decide which way to go. The map and information stands should be in very visible and noticeable places at the entrance. It is absolutely essential to have a “You are here” marker on the map. If it is missing it is difficult for the visitor to find his bearings even with a very detailed map of the shopping centre and the plan loses half its benefit.

When creating a map the following requirements should be taken into consideration:

  1. If the shopping centre or entertainment centre is spread over a large area, then maps with different degrees of detail can be used, so that one can look at them quickly and find one’s bearings. For example, the map at the entrance to the building may have less detail, but the floor maps and the maps at the entrance to each department or at an intersection should be more detailed. Sometimes the architectural plans are simply copied for the map without the designer hardly making any changes. These maps are very difficult for the ordinary customer to read because of the abundance of detail.
  2. Places on the map are organized in the following way: Places in front of the customer are placed above the “You are here” marker. The places below the “You are here” marker are located behind the customer. When an aisle divides into two at a 45 or even 30 degree angle and two “forward” directions appear, it is better to place the map before the intersection and not immediately at the split. In that place there can be extra indicator arrows.
  3. The numbering system for the different floors or levels and rented units should go from the main entrance in the building and also from key points inside the building. The low numbers go to the places near the entrance and the tenants further away have the high numbers. If several blocks have been joined and there are differences in the levels then the numbering for the levels needs to be adjusted.
  4. The numbering for the rented units should be clear. According to a customer’s natural logic after the number 1 should be 2 or 3, like the numbering of houses on either odd or even sides of the street. After the letter A – the letter B. Ineffective use of letters or numbers for the tenant shops in different areas (according to type of product, demand from a specific group of customers or type of tenants) and not according to location can make reading a plan seriously difficult. We will look at some examples. The Letter “A” is for the ladieswear section, the letter “B” is for menswear, but on the plan areas “A” and “B” are not next to each other but lets say on different levels. Area “D” (perfumery and cosmetics) and the letter “K” (presents, plates and dishes and items for the home) are on the same floor as the tenant shops for area “A”. So the numbering of the units in sequence looks random: “A-1”, “K12”, “D-4 and is complicated to work out. Or the numbering takes into account the type of tenant: Retail trade, cafes or services. For example the retail areas are numbered as “1-1”, “1-2” etc, the cafes are “2-1”, “2-2” etc and the numbering for business services begin with the letter 3. So there is a complete mix of numbers on the plan. Sometimes the underlying principle of the numbering system on the plan of a shopping centre is altogether unclear. What does unit number “3-B551”mean? This is more reminiscent of a system entry code than navigation to make a customer’s search easier. All right we can work out “B” and “551”, but where to find row “3” in relation to row “1”. Is row “1” the first row from the entrance or the furthest left gallery (corresponding to the fact that the numbering of the aisles on the architectural plan goes from left to right). Impossible to remember and impossible to understand. In the famous Moscow shopping centre “Gorbushka”, which offers a large selection of music and software customers often want to revisit a shop whose prices and products they liked, but simply cannot find it for a second time in the confused lay-out of the centre! Especially as the shops often change hands and extra reference points disappear. It is as if complicated navigation puts good and bad shops on the same level. The shops are depersonalized and the number of repeat buys in a favourite shop is reduced. A shop’s bond with its regular customers is undermined. This inevitably leads to deterioration in the staff’s work as shop-assistants begin to regard all visitors as one off customers.
  5. It is advisable to show a meeting place for lost visitors on the map. Of course they can ring on their mobile telephones. But how can a visitor answer the question “Where are you?” And how can the other person on the telephone find this place? A meeting place could be an area in the shopping centre which stands out because of some memorable interior feature: Sculptures and fountains. Probably half of Russia knows where to meet in “ZUM” – by the fountain. The navigation is firmly imprinted on their memory, although Muscovites and people visiting the city do not often include “ZUM” on their list of compulsory places to visit. A good meeting place could be a café or food court. The best is when interior design elements resolve several problems in one: Attracting attention, navigation and product promotion like the waterfall coming down from a second floor balcony in one of the largest shopping centres in Washington – the “Potomac Mills Mall”. It is a beautiful audio-visual marker in the navigation system which furthers sales: The waterfall stops the visitors, inquisitive they move closer and begin to look around it and do not realize how they arrived in a water sports shop. In another part of this centre a place for rest and relaxation is combined with a place for themed advertising. Part of the seating area of an aircraft has been installed in a gallery of the shopping centre. Children take great pleasure in climbing inside and start playing while the adults take a breather on the comfortable sofas and look at advertising clips of the air companies which provided this “attraction” for the shopping centre.

Signs and indicators

Notices, boards and indicators in a shop or shopping centre should straight away make people understand what product, service or activity the sign represents. Indicators can contain text information, symbols or images of the product. Symbols can be subdivided into 3 groups: A symbolic representation of a place, gestures or a symbolic representation of an activity. If the signs are unsuccessful people simply do not look at them. It is simpler to ask the way or find out where a product is sold. There are several points to help evaluate a sign or indicator and find out whether it works or not.

Information must be clear

Sometimes there is information on a sign but the subject matter and its meaning is not clear. For example at a hotel in one of the Caribbean resorts a “No entry. Staff only” notice was written in Spanish. However the majority of people staying at the hotel did not speak Spanish! Information may be ambiguous or imprecise. With a notice “Customer cloakroom”, the customer worries: Whose customers – the shopping centre’s or a separate large shop? And when does a visitor become a customer, maybe only after obtaining a discount card or making a purchase? Imagine the look on a customer’s face when after having paid for his goods at the cash desk he sees a sign “Collection of the paid clearance item in block A3”. This means he has to either go in search of a map or distract the cashier or security guard with questions. Another example of ineffective information which often appears is when only the names of the tenant shops appear without a definition of what they sell.

Information on signs may be blatantly unclear and force you to think about the direction given. In Russia it is often difficult for drivers to find their bearings in an unfamiliar area. In Moscow there is not an effective road sign system everywhere, even on well known routes such as the Moscow Ring Road and the Third Ring Road. For example at the intersection of the Third Ring and Kutuzovsky Prospect at the time of writing there is no sign which shows where to turn to go in the opposite direction. It is possible to turn round but you have to know where. If on the approach to the Moscow Ring Road there are clear traffic direction signs – “Moscow Ring Road – West, North, East, South” – then to the Third Ring Road sometimes the direction is signed to the nearest large streets or prospects which makes orientation more difficult. Especially for people from the suburbs and visitors to the city who simply do not know these streets and cannot understand where to turn to get where they need! For example there are arrows to the right and left accompanied by “Razzakov Street” and “Nidjegorodskaya Street”. Which of them lead to the ring in a northward direction and which in a southward? Here is a situation where there is a sign, however for some of the drivers it does not mean anything.

All information must be stated in understandable language. It must be clear precisely to a given audience. We recall how ignorant peasants were enlisted into the army under Peter the Great who could not distinguish between their “right and left”. A wisp of hay was tied to one leg and a wisp of straw to the other and instead of the words “left-right” they were given orders “hay-straw”. Then the commands were clear and easily understandable.

Information should be up-to-date and changes made in time

Once in a large office complex in Moscow we saw a “wonderful” example of navigation. There was an “Exit” sign and arrows, however when the visitor followed the three arrows with the “Exit” signs he came up against a locked door with a grille and a menacing “No Exit” notice. The example is real, but is reminiscent of a scene in the Russian comedy “Sorcerers”, when the guest cannot find his way out of the Institute of Magic. If for some reason an exit has been closed, the arrow signs must be removed or changed so they help to find the real exit. In shopping centres the sign with the list of shops should be made out of changeable sections, so that when a shop changes hands it is possible to change one name for another.

Information must be legible

The size of the sign and also the letters and symbols on it must be comparable with the distance from which it will be read. The size of the indicators depends on the size of the shop space and it should be in proportion to other features, but large enough so that it is noticed. Visual effects hinder the reading of information:

  1. Reflection of light
  2. Use of many different colours on one sign or indicator
  3. Excessive décor (monograms and frames)
  4. When the colour of the print is similar to the background colour
  5. Small spaces between the letters and lines
  6. When the symbols and writing on one sign or indicator are not consistent

Simple print of average thickness without serifs and without changes in the thickness of the letters is the most visible from a distance. Print with serifs emphasizes horizontal lines and organizes which is why it is easier to read in a newspaper or a book. Light-coloured print on a dark background looks larger and optically draws in the viewer. It is better to hang a sign straight and not on an angle (only very experienced designers can achieve the desired effect from a sloping angle). It is not worth getting carried away with different types of print. For example on a sign or notice it is better to use no more than two different types of print.

Different print styles suit different images and all the elements in a system for showing the way or a store directory should unite with the shop’s image and chosen conception. So in a children’s shop the indicators could be bright and cheerful and in a fashion shop refined, classic or innovative. Preferably all the signs and indicators should have a common format. It is not without reason road signs are distinguished in form and colour: It is immediately clear what is strictly prohibited and what is a warning or road marker.

Sign and indicators should be correctly positioned

Indicators are to help the visitor find his way to places which interest him and to draw his attention to products which he had not previously considered. For this reason they are only effective when they can be seen straightaway and are striking. Sometimes signs or indicators are placed too high so that people do not notice them. These do not work as information features. Or a sign for the toilet only appears in the area near the toilet itself and it is impossible to find out where the toilet is in other places in the shopping centre.

The placing of signs also plays a role when putting the names of different shops on the façade and interior of a shopping centre. If the names are incompatible then the customer can become disorientated. We have seen some quite amusing cases. For example on the façade of one shopping complex there were the names of two shops: Women’s clothes and electrical goods. The names were placed directly under each other over the entrance, they were the same colour and the letters were a similar size. As a result the names were visually united into one. Everything would have been all right if it were not for the names of the shops: A sign with a very intriguing content met the visitor’s eyes “220 volt Charm”. What kind of charm was this? Anyone could imagine what the shop sold depending on the extent of their imagination and sense of humour (for example items for extreme intimate fun, ladies’ underwear or women’s self-defense goods). Here is another good example from our collection. Two clothes’ shops were renting the first floor of a block of flats. The first was called “Coquette” and the second was simply called “Menswear”. Both signs were automatically placed next to each other on the façade. Another excellent result with the conspicuous sign “Coquette Menswear” which no doubt evoked smiles and gossip from the locals.

Audio and tactile navigation

Often shopping centre planners have an elevated idea about the level of knowledge and education of their potential customers. This can be seen in their means of navigation. A low level of education is not a distinctive feature only of poor developing countries. Even current research of the USA Department of Education shows that almost half of Americans do not have sufficient functional literacy that is the ability to effectively use text messages. About 15% of Americans for different reasons connected with health find it difficult to read notices. Worsening eyesight has not only been observed among the elderly, but also among young people who spend long hours in front of a computer. Initially, audio means of navigation were mainly for the blind and people who could not see well. However it has been revealed that audio communication has a positive effect on trade. Many modern devices can work silently, however if this happens sounds disappear which help all customers find their bearings and feel at home in an unfamiliar environment. Audio “markers” can appear in key places, in the galleries of shopping centres and in rest places, and could be for example the sound of falling water from a fountain.

Warning sound signals are obligatory on any form of mechanical transport which transfers customers around a shopping centre. Before the end of an escalator or travelator the visitor should hear a sound to have time to get ready to come off the moving stairs or belt. Usually an escalator goes over a “sound strip” when it comes to the end. They have a trick on American roads to stop drivers falling asleep. On certain sections of the road there is a surface which is very noisy when cars drive over it.

The moment a lift arrives at a floor it is accompanied by a sound of a melodic gong and a sound signal is also given when the lift doors close. In American practice for planning and running public buildings the use of audio signals is expanding. For example audio signals could enable people to find the location of information stands, toilets and other key places in a shopping centre. In newer shopping complexes sounds complement the music and the sound environment becomes richer and also more tactile.
Sound and musical accompaniments help the customer create a mind “map” of the building and make them remember areas which the planners have highlighted in colour for example blue walls with the sound of water. With all this variety sounds and melodies should not clash with each other.

Tactile Communication in a building includes a variety of features which the customer touches in different areas. Thus a floor surface could be different in texture, thickness and elasticity and even temperature. The handrails and door handles might be made of different materials. Writing on notices and in places where there is a map of the building also appears in Brail.

A person gets strong emotions from tactile sensations and that is why tactile communication is often used with commercial aims in the USA and other countries in the world. This is especially the case in amusement centres and museums. If there is an interesting exhibit visitors can not only look at it, but satisfy their curiosity by touching the specially prepared specimen. Such places always attract attention and there are often queues. For example in the Space Museum in Washington it is possible to touch a piece of rock from the moon’s surface and in the Natural History Museum a tiger’s paw and teeth. At “Water World” on Sentosa Island in Singapore, which is excellent from a commercial point of view, there is a small aquarium where you can touch different fish. The chance to touch and even pull the tail of dangerous marine predators such as sharks, electric ray and the poisonous sting ray without any risk to oneself evokes such delight in visitors (how the staff are able to make the skate safe is kept secret from the visitors). And where there is delight among visitors – there is also considerable commercial success.

© Kira Kanayan, Ruben Kanayan, Armen Kanayan
Authors of the book Planning shops and shopping centres,
the book "Retail Real Estate: Challenges and Perspectives" and the book Merchandising
Leading consultants for the company “Union-Standard Consulting”, Moscow

Informational partners – "Shop-Academy", "Mall-Academy" and "Stratomedia Inc."