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The Elements: Interior vs. Exterior

Inside or outside, that is the question. In retail recently there has been a boom of outdoor shopping centers and multi-use districts that have popped up. With those, there are more opportunities for RMU’s, kiosks, and pop-ups. This is great news- there are certain areas of the country where being outside year-round is a dream, and other areas where it’s a nightmare. Being in Texas, the summer months can be pretty brutal. But during the winter, you won’t catch me too far north of I-70- I don’t do cold. So which is better for your product – inside or outside? Can everything you sell inside also be sold outside? What are the challenges of either location?

In general, any product will do well inside. Outside is a bit different story. Outside you have to deal with all of the elements. The most constant will be the sun. For example, if you sell candles and they are outside in the heat of Phoenix 24/7 they might not hold up too well. If you sell oil-based products- scents, lotions, makeup, CBD, you might need to test them out to make sure extended periods in the hot summer sun won’t have a negative effect. Another factor to consider is wind – will your display be blown over with strong wind gusts? Will your product fly away like Dorothy to the land of the Oz or is it heavy enough to stay put? Of course, wind can be controlled by glass display cases, but that is an added expense and takes away from customers coming up and interacting with your product on their own. One of the most destructive elements is rain. While it’s somewhat predictable, sometimes shower bursts come out of nowhere. If your product gets wet- will it be completely damaged? Also, if your RMU or Kiosk is in an area with a rainy season, will you be able to have it open during the rain? If not, what would that do for your bottom line?

The last element to consider is temperature. The holiday season is such a big season that no one wants to miss out on it, but if you’re in an area that has early snows or very chilly evenings you will have to check out the foot traffic to make sure it will be a good fit for you. Also, will your employees want to be outside during the brutal cold or heat? While exterior units do have their issues, they also have so many positives. Right now, especially in our Covid world, some people won’t step foot into an indoor mall but would have no problem going into an exterior shopping center. If your product is geared toward the outdoors- like sunglasses, hats, or flying objects- they would do great outside! Some centers even allow remote control helicopters to be demonstrated, within reason.

From a design standpoint, interior and exterior have so many differences. Security and protection from the elements are what shapes exterior units while the interior has a bit more flexibility. Typically, exterior RMU’s will have doors of some sort. These can be roll-down shutters, that when open slide up into a little box that is hidden in the ceiling structure. Others have sliding/hinged doors. We’ve done quite a few units where the doors add additional merchandising space. The doors provide a dual purpose – security and weatherproofing. If the property is open after hours you want to provide additional security to prevent theft. And exterior units are all weatherproof from the overnight rain showers. Visually, this requires an overhead structure that is supported by columns. While exterior units are beautiful they often seem larger and heavier than interior options.

Interior units don’t have any of the issues with the elements that exterior units do – unless you’re under a skylight. One benefit of the exterior is the overhead structure- it provides ample opportunity for lighting. The overhead structures on interior units are typically smaller, slimmer bars that provide lighting, but not as much as the exterior. This is ok because the interior space will always have overall lighting, the additional lights are just an added layer. Keeping your product secure is always important in any setting. An interior RMU typically has a curtain or cover that wraps up the unit in a bubble overnight. If your product requires additional security, then you might look into glass security cases. Because interior RMU’s don’t have heavy doors they have some more design flexibility. More open counters and a less obstructed view. If there are columns, they become part of the design element or are thinner because they only need to support the light bar and the security curtain.

Then there is a hybrid of exterior and interior. These are perfect for interior locations that don’t have to deal with the elements, but still have foot traffic 24/7 and need the added security that doors provide. For example, an airport or public transit station is a great spot for an RMU or kiosk but they tend to have travelers at all hours of the day. So while you get the benefit of a temperature-controlled environment you still have the columns and typically larger overhead structure for security.

While an RMU is an RMU and a kiosk is a kiosk, they have some great differences when you put them inside or outside. So make sure when you are scouting your next location you think about the pros and cons of each location. If you have any questions about “could we do x or y” just let us know! We’d be happy to discuss and brainstorm with you so you can find the perfect fit! Remember help is here and only a phone call (817-520-2320) or message away.

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