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Retail Store Layouts

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  • Mahinda Leelaratne

Retail Store Layouts

The factors governing the Retail Store layouts

Excellent retail store layouts are those that develop on three major things, namely, customer experience, revenues & traffic flow. Knowingly or unknowingly, in the pursuit of second and third factors, some retailers overlook the first and most important part.

It is a huge blunder, as researchers have proven that whoever delivers the better experience typically reaps the higher revenues. In the current era of the "experience economy," it becomes even more relevant: Your store may be selling physical objects, but your customers' experience is an intangible but crucial criterion in the trade.

Another reason why experience is significant: Remember that retail store interior design is meant to influence clients' behaviour. By carefully considering the design and spatial arrangements of the store, you can drive more sales with repeat and delighted clients.

Store layout and traffic flow

It is very significant that the store's layout and overall presentation work harmoniously together to attract customers to the store and encourage them to buy. Layout and presentation must promote the store's image and support the store's market position consistently.


Significant components of retail store layouts

When putting together the floor plan for your space, there are a few factors to consider:


Retail store interior design

The Store Design is the visual component of your space and involves floor plans and strategic space management. Besides making your retail store pleasing to the eye and supporting brand identity, you can also use this to tell your story.


Consumer behaviour

Consumer behaviour is a pattern in which a customer navigates a store and interacts with the merchandise. Tracking and observation techniques have shown that people who enter a store generally follow a set pattern. For example, 90% of North American consumers turn immediately to the right. Most shoppers, especially women, avoid spaces that result in close contact with other shoppers.


Real estate, or your store's geographic location

Before the clients ever set foot in (or even see) your store, they're already instinctively forming opinions based on the location that they're entering. Besides dictating rent, location also sets expectations for your store. For example, if you're a high-end retailer of homewares, you wouldn't want to be located in a run-down neighbourhood.


Entrance and window appearances

Many retailers, particularly smaller ones, have taken to disregarding window displays altogether. Don't make this mistake. Each window should tell a story, just as the eyes are the windows to a person's soul, so store windows offer glimpses of the treasures within.

Again, consider your market. If you're a high-end retail store, you'll want to remember that space conveys luxury. Think of jewellers: Only a few items are displayed in windows, sending the message that each piece is unique.


Factors that affect store layout include traffic flow and presentation spaces

If you're a bargain store, a bit of clutter could actually work in your favour. Merchandise heaped together reinforces the idea that customers are getting a great deal.


Retail store layouts and their effects on customer behaviors

As we mentioned above, there are behavioural patterns that stay consistent among the majority of shoppers. Here's how you should take advantage of these tendencies through your store's floor plan.


Clear the decompression zone

Decompression zone is a popular name for the first 10-15 feet of space within a store, depending on its overall size. In this area, customers are transitioning from the outside world into the one you're creating for them. Two tips: Make a good impression, and don't try to sell.

While your customer is getting their bearings, it's your chance to introduce your brand. At this point, customers are making assessments as to how high- or low-end your products are likely to be and what your story is.

Because their brains are busy with transitioning, they're "more likely to miss any product, signage, or carts" displayed within this area. Therefore, hold off on the critical merchandise you really want them to see and instead focus on that initial experience.

Keep the threshold clear of essential merchandise.


Make a right turn

According to the studies carried out, shoppers turn right immediately upon entering the store, likely because we drive on the right side of the road and have a tendency to turn right.

By now, they're ready to look at your merchandise in detail. That means this area should contain your "power wall": a display area which should make the biggest impression on your customers.


Lead them down a path

Unless you're a big box store, that benefits from customers coming in, purchasing, and then quickly leaving again, it's best to lead them on a guided tour. This way, you can have greater control over their experience and thus better chances at influencing their purchasing decisions.

A small store works best with a loop layout (more details on this below) because there's a clear path for customers to go.


Avoid the "butt-brush effect."

The term "butt-brush effect" refers to a typical customer reaction from when their backside is touched or has a good chance of being brushed. Most shoppers, especially women, will avoid aisles when this is the case, even if they're very interested in the products on display. Also, in these times with covid-19, the need for space when queuing is even more critical.

Strange though it may seem, this problem has a straightforward solution: Just make sure there's adequate space for people to move in without bumping against each other.


Where the eyes go, the feet will follow

A fundamental principle in the layout of Japanese gardens is the creation of small discoveries. The same experience is very effective in retail store interior design: Use of curves and angles, lead the eye down the path with promises of more treasures (you can use a different texture and colour on the floor or wall for this), and then create a separate "mini experience" at the end.


Encourage impulse buys

Just because customers have reached the "end" of their shopping experience (POS counter) doesn't mean that their shopping should end. Display low-cost merchandise on or near the POS counters: It inspires consumers to complement their shopping with some impulse goods in addition to their purchases.


Mahinda Leelaratne Regional Manager Middle East CG Solutions Ltd

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