A well-built store—one that is consistent with others under a retailer’s umbrella—is a powerful tool for communicating a brand. In fact, arguably nothing (beyond the product itself) is a more tangible signifier of the brand than the store environment. This puts the store planning team in the position of acting as brand managers and means that for the construction manager, whether he/she is employed in house by the retail company or as a contractor specializing in retail construction, understanding the brand (the retailer’s goals, visions, and marketing strategies) is a cornerstone of day-to-day work.
Even though brand-oriented goals reside outside the scope of the traditional architecture/ engineering/construction professional, retail project management job descriptions regularly include such tasks as performing store surveys and market analyses, strategic sourcing and procurement, the development of environmental graphics, and more.
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Adding what amounts to a second job description to a project manager’s busy schedule can end up detracting from his/her key responsibilities: to manage construction from the design phase through store opening. Stretching project managers too thin can lead to inefficiencies during the construction phase which negatively affect the built product… and because construction details can make or break store performance, ironically, project management shortfalls become harmful to the brand.
Furthermore, while retail construction involves a cross-disciplinary, big-picture focus, it is also more detailed and nuanced than many other types of construction. Design program requirements are never vaguely defined or composed of simple, general guidelines. They are extraordinarily specific, being determined by teams of designers and branding specialists, and must achieve consistency with other store locations worldwide. Quality standards, too, are extremely stringent.
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