There aren’t right or wrong ways of laying out a store. However, studies have shown that it can have a huge impact on maximizing revenue. To be more specific, by creating an optimal retail store layout, retailers use clever selling strategies to direct customers to high-priority products, manage and control customer flow, and drive impulse sales. Most importantly, however, this is a great way to provide value to customers and create a positive customer experience.
#1 Identify customer flow pattern
The next time you walk into any retail store, pay close attention to product displays. Typically, they are arranged so that the products practically sell themselves, which is no accident. Merchants are using visual stimuli to capture the attention of prospective customers. By doing so, they are guiding them through the store and motivating them to buy something. Visual merchandising is a fail-safe strategy that offers results you can easily replicate in your own retail store. That is, if you understand customer flow, of course. Analyzing customer flow is crucial to creating an optimal retail store layout. This way, you’ll be able to accommodate consumers’ natural behaviors and use your layout to influence the customer flow and encourage certain behaviors.
Do you have an in-store camera? Great if you do, because video recording and then reviewing the time-lapse video is the most effective method of doing this. Remember, you’re looking for patterns of behavior and the way shoppers navigate your retail store.
- Do you notice a common pattern in the way customers walk through your shop?
- Is there an area in your store that they hardly ever go to?
- Are there any spaces in the store that shoppers go to but don’t stay very long?
- What areas are visited the most?
- How much time do customers spend in your shop on average?
#2 Understand key customer behavioral habits
Avoid the transition zone
Now that you’ve identified the traffic flow in your store, you can start arranging retail displays and store’s isles with that in mind to build a comfortable retail experience. Creating a retail floor plan that works well begins right at the entrance. Any good layout should have a transition zone area. It’s an open space of 5 to 15 feet, based on the size of the store, of the retail’s entry point. Shoppers need this place to ‘decompress’, or acclimate from the outside distractions and become familiarized with the new environment. This way, they’re able to enter your store with a clear head and become actively engaged in the actual shopping journey. For this reason, this space should be void of all merchandise, sales reps, or signage as patrons typically tend to overlook these elements.
Consider the right-hand turn
Roughly 90% of shoppers naturally turn right after entering a retail store, and they continue to navigate the space in a counterclockwise direction. This is a natural pattern of movement shop owners should try to avoid disrupting. What is more, you can take advantage of this customer habit by highlighting the right-hand side of your retail store as this is where patrons will look and shop first. Continue to direct traffic counterclockwise by arranging it in the right-to-left pattern. Finally, place checkouts and registers to the left of the entrance to make it fall on shoppers’ natural exit path.
Prevent the dreaded “butt brush” effect
Hardly anyone likes to feel cramped, and the same holds for shoppers. Therefore, when remodeling your retail store, ensure that the new layout will provide ample space for movement. The pathways need to be spacious enough to invite shoppers to browse comfortably, without being afraid they’ll bump into someone or experience a “butt brush” from another shopper. If they do, they’re more likely to move on from the items. Aisle widths of at least three and a half feet should be enough to comfortably fit strollers and wheelchairs.
#3 Decide on a store layout that fits your business
Independently of their size, most retail stores use one of the following basic retail store layout types:
Yet, which one you should choose will depend on:
- The space you have to work with;
- The shopping experience you want to create;
- Your merchandise.
For instance, most grocery stores use the grid layout simply because they’re predictable and easy to navigate. Boutiques opt for more creative floor plans that allow them to display and highlight different products. Ultimately, the decision is up to you. Just be sure to consider what works for your business, as well as to consult a professional to see how you can make the most of the space to turn your vision into reality.
#4 Use speed bumps to control customer flow
Yes, mapping out a retail store successfully should include accommodating shoppers’ natural behaviors. But a layout can also help you control your customer flow and generate certain behaviors. Speed bumps refer to any displays or fixtures in retail designed to make the shoppers slow down their shopping to engage with the products more and spend more time in the store. Next, pausing for a moment will help draw their attention to the products in their close surroundings, which, in turn, generates more customer interest.
#5 Begin product mapping
If you’re strategic about product placement, you’ll be able to promote customer engagement, create a positive experience for shoppers, and drive your sales. For maximum product exposure, you ought to consider the following:
When picking out fixtures for your retail store, choose versatile ones. Your business’s merchandise is changing all the time, and having to constantly purchase new fixtures to display your merchandise isn’t something you’ll want. Secondly, it’s best to always strive for a uniform look, so if your old fixtures don’t work in terms of both versatility and uniformity, get rid of them. When remodeling, you’ll probably need some extra storage space during the project to place all of the furniture pieces anyway. So, a storage unit may come in handy for storing the old fixtures until you’ve got more time on your hands to figure out what you should do with them.
Categorizing products into “zones” makes it easy for consumers to manage in the store and find what they’re looking for. This, in turn, contributes to a better shopping experience. Zone design can also help you employ some helpful merchandising strategies. For instance, you can display bestsellers or any essential products in Primary Zones. Since they are located in the back of the stores, customers will have to walk through the entire store. Impulse items and other small, low-cost items, on the other hand, should be located near the register. This way, customers don’t stop shopping even when they arrive at the register to pay and leave. Also, shop owners typically place a power wall on the right of their store. Do you remember discussing the right-hand turn? If yes, then you know that this is a high-traffic or key area of any retail store.
Finally, when creating an optimal retail store layout, don’t forget to consider which products work well together. Cross merchandising, the practice of displaying different product category items together, is another useful strategy. It is almost as important as Zone Design for owners who want to save their customers time from having to search throughout the shop.