Why BIM is becoming important for Retail Design?

Across global the retail markets are facing unprecedented challenges from within their sector and also from new e-commerce sectors. Retailers that are successful are aware that this success can be short lived and therefore expansion and roll out of their outlets can sometimes become a limitation for success are aware that Assuming that the challenge is indeed speed to market, for retailers, it is paramount to adopt a design planning process which can help them develop retail ideas that are versatile, clash-free and efficient to build/install within a planned budget. This is where BIM can start to provide significant benefits due to the ease of operation, use of a database of library items and the benefit of repeatability of the design concept.

BIM can be beneficial for the entire retail property development chain from design consultants and architects, to MEP installers and facility managers. If it is used effectively it can lead to faster scale up, design accuracy, higher design flexibility and cost efficiency. Whilst it does take some take and effort to convert conventional CAD drafting processes, blocks and templates to parametric BIM retail design techniques, once done BIM can help retailers to design faster and more accurately. A few of the key benefits of retail design with BIM are discussed in more detail below.

Rapid Development of Design and Construction Documents:

Conventional CAD drafting techniques for building design require different trades to create separate drawings, which sometimes stack up too many inconsistent documents as they are incomplete, usually without a lot of information that may be created by other skilled parties, such as quantity surveyors. This information is usually mandatory for building construction and includes specifications, bill of materials, cost modelling and schedule data. Not only does a BIM model provide this data, freeing up QS (quantity surveyor) resource, it also provides information from the 3d model that contains intelligent data related to design intent and construction and facilities management information. The major stakeholders will typically receive the data that is combined within a master BIM model to then extract further use and benefit from the design model.

Although the success of retail BIM projects depends on the acceptance levels of all the project participants to perceive BIM as a future-ready tool, the actual benefit of BIM lies in its ability to assist in extraction of various documents, data and views including plans, sections, elevations, renderings, bill of quantities (BOQ), material costs and time schedule, all within record time. All this results in quicker, on-demand data extraction and generation from BIM models for any construction-related designs or drawings.

Development of Standardized Re-usable BIM Families:

To maintain consistency, a retailer may use typical fixtures and fittings across their retail network as retail industry primarily focuses on brand image and brand appearance. Retail design teams, with the help of BIM teams, are able to create standardized libraries of BIM for fixtures and fittings which, with further modifications can be used when designing and planning new outlets, thus enabling retail owners to maintain exclusivity with regards to visual elements, consumer experiences and shoplifting layouts. The design team, keeps BIM libraries updated for various unique outlet chains which help in saving time during conceptual and detail design stages whilst boosting efficiency ratios.

For example, consistency within all the outlets can be maintained by keeping the key retail architectural elements uniform with the help of BIM families which leaves scope for tweaking other architectural details and regional elements.

Creating Store Prototype Models that Can Be Localized:

When developing new prototype store designs, BIM proves to be a valuable asset to retailers BIM prototypes not only offer 3D visualisation prowess but also provide a quality database which consists of detailed information on crucial aspects such as materials, fixtures, components, cost estimation and quantity take-offs. As compared to traditional CAD drafting methods, intuitive and elaborate prototypes like these, accelerate the roll out of new store designs.

In summary, using design standards, fixtures, fittings and brand guidelines in a BIM environment as opposed to a CAD environment may incur an up-front cost and time contribution, but the benefit for mass roll out using a library of intelligent components will significantly reduce overall design time and also improve accuracy of project drawings and project data – providing greater certainly for construction teams and also costing teams.

Outsourcing vs. Completing Retail Designs In-House

When planning store refurbishment exercises or when opening new stores major retailers across the world face tough decisions about their design process and whether to handle all (or a part of) the retail design and documentation work in-house or to engage the services of a skilled outsourced CAD services provider to assist them with some or all of the retail design and drafting process. Choosing one of the two options is not only a difficult task but also depends upon several factors unique to each retail firm and the availability and selection of an outsourced design partner.

For retailers, looking inward at their own team it is of course good practice to evaluate the internal design support capabilities vis-à-vis the retail chain’s strategic goals. The evaluation should be two-pronged: firstly, the availability of in-house skills with respect to the expected design standards and secondly, on the basis of the speed of the design cycle the internal team can provide to support the firm’s growth objectives. Any shortcoming in one of these two areas is a strong reason to partner with an experienced offshore retail CAD team to successfully drive the retailer’s strategic objectives.

Entering into an architectural CAD / BIM outsourcing services model can also help the retailers accelerate their time to market especially in cases where the internal design team has the requisite skills but finds it difficult to meet the rapid turnaround expectations of the fast-paced retail environment. The key point, however, is to choose the ‘right’ service partner – a partner that seamlessly extends the in-house capacity, meets the design standards and fits into the required workflow. The vendor should also have established work processes, virtual communication tools and quality control procedures in place. The best way to evaluate all the above factors is to meet offshore partners on a face-to-face level.

Meeting the offshore partner in their environment in face-to-face meetings allows interaction with the management and drafting/modelling team of the potential partner in a way that cannot be replicated remotely via email and telephone calls. This will also allow the retailer an opportunity to review and validate the skills, processes, technology backbone, experience and quality levels of the outsourced partner. A face-to-face meeting or set of meetings will also allow the retailer to understand and familiarise themselves with the underlying culture of the partner organisation and whether it is conducive to an effective working relationship. The outsourcing partner’s culture and way of working will dictate the success of communication for the relationship. Communication is arguably the greatest challenge facing firms that engage outsourcing models and it is only with face-to-face meetings that the retailer will gain an understanding of communication effectiveness. In most cases the retailer may also wish to understand the social values and aims of the partner in both a formal and informal environment. This will provide further insights into the culture of that partner and allow the retailer to understand the potential partner in a different context.

Whether face-to-face or remotely another factor that retailers need to review is the relative experience of their internal resources versus the outsourcing team, especially on projects that the firm is embarking on for the first time. For instance, if the in-house design/documentation team has been using AutoCAD as a preferred drafting tool and the retail firm decides to adopt the building information modeling (BIM) process across all the new projects, it is advisable to partner with a vendor which has suitable experience in handling projects having a similar scope. It is also worth checking whether the firm is familiar with the requisite processes associated with BIM, including worksharing, IFC linking, family modeling, interoperability, material takeoff, clash detection and support with other CAD/BIM tools. An experienced team that has relatively more experience than the in-house team can help the retailer to smoothly transition to the new process with ease.

Whilst it is essential to focus on building a strong internal team, there are scenarios wherein retail design outsourcing adds significant value in terms of increasing success rates on projects never undertaken by the in-house team, speeding up the turnaround times on high-priority projects and extending the capacity of the in-house team without increasing direct overheads.

At XS CAD, we work with retailers across the globe, supplying retail construction drawing sets, 3D BIM models and computer-generated images that are used for pre-construction planning, construction build and project management purposes. We have experience working seamlessly with our clients’ local design teams and providing production drawing services for a range of retailing organisations operating in the apparel, fashion, banking, fast food, restaurant, electronics, telecoms and IT sectors.