Opening a retail business brings with it many decisions, factors and variables to think about. People in charge need to think about issues like finance, staff, stock, and location among many other things. While location will be a major decision, they also need to keep in mind the layout of the location they choose. This is something that store owners often overlook when they plan their assault into retail and it can end up costing them in lost dollars.
Why is Store Layout Important?
Layout of a store has the ability to influence shoppers on their ‘journey’ through the store and visual displays can be aligned also to make impact as a result. Ultimately store layout can help to increase sales!
Store Layout Top Tips!
#1 Let Your Store Window Tell a Story
Your store window merchandising is your opportunity to entice would be customers into your store. Choose a theme for the window display(s) and stick to it for a set duration – perhaps each season. Select a colour theme and really show off your style and flair with the display. Don’t be afraid to add extra props for drama; if you do it well, you will become known for this and people will almost want to walk by your store to see what you have in the window. Don’t be tempted to add too much clutter / stock to the area as this will cheapen the look. Remember that minimalism equates to luxury and style so it’s important to keep that in mind.
Retail expert Bob Phibbs posted this interesting video which shows how one boutique owner ‘dresses’ her window:
#2 First Impressions Count
When a customer enters your store, you can make an immediate impression by what you have on display right inside the door. It’s really important to remember though that you should not add a display here that will block out the view of the whole shop but rather it should entice them to come in further, to explore more interesting things. Displays or stands right inside the door should make the most of all space while allowing the eyes to venture beyond so look for a display that optimises on lower shelving or racks or use the display to show off interesting items that customers will like to touch, feel or lift. This could be for products like handbags if it’s a clothing store or things like plants or kettles if it’s a general store. Try to pick a colour theme when displaying no matter what products you’re using.
#3 Lead Them Somewhere
It’s important to make use of space so end an aisle with a wall perpendicular to the rest of the store and use it to feature more items. Be creative with how you use it as it will add variety and interest to the store. If it’s a clothing store, think about perhaps using it to display your accessories.
#4 Create “Breaks” in Displays
Retail experts suggest that almost 20% of store merchandise is passed over due to the existence of long, uninterrupted aisles. That’s why it is a good idea to break displays up to create variety, be that with signage or just actual space for movement. You could also use this space in merchandise to include some mannequins for suggested style options if it’s a clothing store or if it’s a food store, you could use spacious areas for tasting or cooking demonstrations.
#5 Be Creative With Shapes
In terms of displaying your stock, you don’t have to use all oblong or square display areas; think about incorporating some u-shaped, split level or circular display areas or tables which add character and uniqueness to the store. You can be really creative with this display as it will appear like a nice focal point and might be good for showing off smaller pieces like costume jewellery, wallets or a special collection of shoes from one designer; you could choose to showcase a different designer each month at this location.
#6 Choose the Best Layout for YOUR Store
A grid style layout is used by most grocery stores and this directs customers up and down its rows of aisles. A “loop layout” has a central grouping of displays, with a circular or square path leading around it. A “free-flowing layout” allows retailers to encourage impulse buying, as shoppers can move the most freely through the store. If you have smaller items like costume jewellery, handbags and other accessories that could be seen as completing an outfit, a free-flowing layout might suit this kind of store.
#7 Minimise Counters
It’s important to encourage customers to want to engage with staff so minimizing counters will help with this. Obviously you will need somewhere to put your cash register but staff should be encouraged to move around the store when not busy tending to customers. This will give a sense that the store is busy. If space isn’t an issue, you could consider having mini workstations dotted around the store, where for example staff could position themselves but also get essential work done like folding and sorting stock yet they would still be very accessible to customers.
#8 Checking Them Out
A good rule of thumb to remember when deciding on the placement of your checkout desk(s) is that it should be located at a natural stopping point in the shopping path that you’ve laid out. It certainly shouldn’t be difficult to find so stand back and from all angles, see if you can easily see the checkout point in your store. You might need to add in high signage to the upper section of the wall to ensure people know exactly where it is.
#9 A Fresh Pair of Eyes
Ask staff or a family member or close friend to walk through the store and see what their thoughts are on the layout. This is a budget friendly way to rethink the store layout or to even see if it needs a redesign. Draft a short questionnaire for them to go through with questions asking them to grade things such as first impressions on entering the store, ability to find what they’re looking for, quality of store displays, quality of window display etc etc. You can gain immense knowledge on areas to improve just from this activity alone.
Once you have optimised your store layout, you also need to incorporate strategies for the counting of people traffic and using the analytics you derive to further push your business. Give us a call, we can help!