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11 Effective Ways on How to Design a Store Layout

When I was younger, I used to love going to the mall with my friends. We would spend hours walking around, looking in all the different stores and trying on clothes. Even though we were just teenagers, it felt like we were grown-ups shopping for our first apartments or something. Now that I’m older and have my own place, I don’t shop at the mall nearly as much. But every now and then, I’ll need to buy something specific from a store there, and that’s when I start thinking about store layout design. What is it about certain stores that make them enjoyable to shop in? How do they make you want to keep coming back? A lot of times, it has everything to do with the store layout — how items are displayed and where they’re located within the space. In this blog post, we’ll share 11 tips on how to design a store layout for your business to increase sales and keep customers coming back for more!

How to Design a Store Layout

When it comes to planning the layout of your store, there are a few common tactics that you can use to make the most of your space and merchandise. Below, we’ve outlined a few of these tactics for you to consider. Can you apply any of these pointers to your store’s layout and merchandising?

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1. Choose the right floor plan

Your floorplan is the backbone of your store. It’s what guides the flow of traffic and where products should be placed. Choosing the right one depends on a variety of factors, such as the size of your business, the products you’re selling, and who your target customers are.

How to design a store layout is all about meeting the customer‘s needs. Do they want their shopping experience to be quick and painless or do they prefer to take their sweet time?

What are your customer’s buying habits? Do they want to shop on their own, or do they want to be guided through the buying process? Do they like to find what they need quickly, or do they like to meander through the store and discover new merchandise?

These are some of the questions to ask yourself when determining your store layout.

Creating a store layout that is both visually appealing and encourages shoppers to buy requires creativity and a knowledge of psychology. Testing different layouts is important to see what works best for your customers.

Straight Floor Plan

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This layout is most effective for stores with aisles and rows of products. By organizing the aisle and row spaces in straight, parallel lines, shoppers can easily navigate a store and find what they’re looking for. This helps prevent overcrowding and bottlenecks.

Racetrack or Loop Plan

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This store design encourages customers to follow a “path” around the store. You place displays and products in a way that creates a path that customers can follow.

Angular Floor Plan

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This store’s layout is modern and chic, with its curves and angles.

Some high-end stores use an angled layout, which focuses more on popular items while reducing the overall amount of floor space. This can be seen as being more efficient and may lead to higher sales.

Geometric Floor Plan

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If you want your store to have a trendy feel, then go with a geometric floor plan. This type of layout uses racks and fixtures to create a unique look.

Freeflow Plan

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A free-flowing floor plan is your best option for a creative, unique retail space. This type of plan allows you to be as imaginative as you want to be in your workspace.

Unlike most other stores, this setup allows customers to browse the store freely.

2. Decide Where You Want to Lead Shoppers

There’s no one right way to navigate a store. Some retailers prefer a counterclockwise approach, while many others think a clockwise approach is better.

Some claim that since most people are right-handed, they instinctively turn to the right and explore the store in a counter-clockwise direction.

However, other studies indicate that shopper direction has more to do with their vehicle traffic patterns.

In countries where cars drive on the left, like the UK and Australia, people tend to walk in a counter-clockwise direction while those from right-driving nations, such as the United States, tend to turn right when they walk.

If you’re trying to decide which theory of how customers shop you should believe, it appears that there is strong evidence that they tend to shop in a store based on driving behavior.

As Herb Sorenson, author of “Inside the Minds of Shoppers,” noted:

In England, Japan, and Australia, people are more likely to move in a counter-clockwise direction, while in the US, they favor a clockwise route. Traffic patterns in stores may be influenced by vehicular movements outside the store.

Our recommendation is to test this theory for yourself.

If you’ve noticed that customers tend to follow the patterns of a country’s car market, then you’ll know exactly where to place your newest arrivals and other enticing features.

3. Display Appropriate Product Quantities

The question of whether to have too much or too little inventory on hand is a tricky one that doesn’t have a clear answer.

On the other hand, having more products on the store’s shelves can confuse customers. When Dollar Store raised their shelving to 78”, their average sale per foot went from $165 to $201.

When Walmart cut its inventories, its sales were negatively impacted. To combat this, they redesigned their stores and added more products. This improved their customer service.

While sales were down, overall satisfaction was up. This goes to show that while people may be spending less, they’re more satisfied with their purchases.

Customers responded positively to Walmart’s decision to reduce the amount of merchandise on the sales floor. At the same time, however, these customers also bought less merchandise.

If you have too many products on the store’s shelves, it can give off the impression that the store is not high-end or a boutique. This can cause the brand to lose its perceived value.

As author and expert on consumer behavior, Mr.Paco Underhill, said, “the more crowded a retail store is, the more people perceive it as value — just as people think fewer things on the floor means they’re expensive.”

The amount of inventory you carry in your retail store will have an effect on how large your establishment is, how you want it to look, and what kind of customer experience you’re trying to create. By being smart about how much product you show, you can create a better shopping environment for customers.

If you’re a discount retailer, stocking up on inventory is a good way to make the most out of the space you have in your store. This can help you offer a greater variety of items at more affordable prices, which could help draw in more customers.

If you’re a boutique, then you’ll want to curate your collection. Only put a few of your top products on display.

4. Put a Premium on Space

While having lots of stock in your store is great, it is important to give your shoppers some personal space to avoid the dreaded butt-brush.

The butt-brush effect is when customers move away from a product they’re interested in after being bumped into by other customers.

According to Underhill, they noticed something strange about the tie rack while reviewing the footage of shoppers during busy times. People would approach the tie rack, stop and shop, and then leave when they are bumped into the product by people heading out of the store.

After observing shoppers for some time, it became evident that customers generally don’t enjoy being touched or brushed past from behind – especially women, though this was also true of men to a lesser degree.

They’ll move away or avoid products they’re interested in buying.

5. Design Your Store Layout to Drive Impulse Buy

Your retail store’s layout and design can be a powerful sales tool. By strategically positioning certain items, you can encourage more impulsive buying. Grocery stores are masters at this — they frequently place impulse buy items such as candies, magazines, and gift cards near their check-out counters.

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Another way to encourage more sales is by cross-merchandising. By placing matching accessories and clothes together, you can encourage your customers to buy more.

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6. Retouch Your Displays Regularly

How often should you change up your display? There’s no one size fits all answer, as it will depend on who you are talking to and what type of business you have.

Most experts say that it’s a good idea to change your shop display once a week. This could mean anything from switching up the clothes on your dress forms to showcasing a new item in the “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” section. Whatever you do, just be sure to keep your merchandise looking fresh and new.

As new merchandise comes in, it’s important to change up your displays and product placement to keep customers interested.

Consider the amount of foot traffic that your store or center gets. Do you get the same people walking through all the time?

If you’re on a crowded street, you’ll need to change the display on your sign often in order to grab people’s attention.

The last thing you want is for your customers to become so familiar with your shop that they barely even notice it. That’s why you need to change your display up often, so customers will be constantly reminded of your existence.

7. Appeal to Multiple Senses

While a retail store’s appearance is its most obvious feature, other senses such as smell, taste, and texture can also impact a customer’s experience.

If you want to create an unforgettable in-store experience, design your store to appeal to all five senses. Use scents, sounds, and textures to create a multi-sensory environment that will leave shoppers wanting more.

Here are a few ideas for what you can do:

Sound

Choose your music carefully. Consider the mood you want to convey and the music that will best support that mood.

The volume and beat of the music can have an effect on your customers. While upbeat and loud music may be great for attracting a younger crowd, it’s a different story for stores that cater to older customers.

Scent

Scent marketing can be used by any business, not just bakeries and coffee shops. In fact, a few businesses have used scents to great success.

Some high-end retailers like to spray their baby section with the scent of baby powder, while cruise lines and hotels often create their signature scents and put them on brochures that are mailed out to visitors after they return home.

Other companies use scents that are made of their most popular items. According to a Lush retail executive, the scent in their stores is a combination of their bestselling cosmetics.

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When I walk into this store, I can immediately smell the Avobath Bomb, the Karma Soap, and the Vanilla Perfume.

The smells you incorporate into your shop play a huge role in creating the ambiance and experience for your customers. Do some research to find out which aromas will entice your target demographic and convince them to stick around.

Touch

One way to get customers more engaged with your products is to allow them to have a hands-on experience. This allows them to feel connected to what they are buying and makes for a much more enjoyable shopping process.

Apple revolutionized the retail shopping experience by displaying its devices in plain view rather than in brown boxes.

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Consumers loved it and eventually, other companies in the computer and electronics sectors followed Apple’s lead.

Taste

If you offer food products, try having tasting booths. This encourages people to get hands-on with your products and makes them more comfortable.

At Brandless’ LA pop-up store, shoppers can sample coffee and tea before making a purchase. This allows them to get a taste of the products and make an informed decision.

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Even if you don’t sell food products, you can still make your store more appealing to shoppers by offering drinks and snacks for them to enjoy while they shop. This will help create a more pleasant shopping experience that customers will remember.

Cosmetics store BirchBox occasionally offers complimentary champagne — here’s a shot of its SoHo location last January:

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8. Don’t Forget to Cross-Merchandise

Grouping products into different categories or sections is a great way to organize and merchandize your online store. You can also find opportunities to cross-market different products by displaying them together.

As a buyer, you should look at all your items from a point of view of how they would go together. For instance, if you are looking at a dress, there may be other clothing items that would go great with it. By looking at the item from this angle, you can assemble incredible ensembles that make you look awesome.

Gymboree does a great job of cross-merchandising its shirts and sweaters with matching purses. This makes it easy for shoppers to put together a complete look.

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This is a great example of how retailers like to target parents with products related to each other. For example, while one product might be for sun protection, another could be for swimming.

By putting their sunscreen and diaper products next to each other, customers can easily find everything they’re looking for in one convenient place.

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9. Make Sure Your Employees are Well Positioned

The positioning of your employees in your store can greatly impact how appealing it is to potential customers. Make sure your employees are positioned in a way that invites customers into your store.

Having employees walk around the store’s sales floor can help create a more friendly and inviting environment for customers.

Keep your employees out from behind the register and moving around the store. If you have large windows in your store, this is especially important.

If you want to make your store more inviting to customers, tell your employees to act like they’re customers themselves. This way, potential shoppers will see people moving around and be more likely to come in.

10. Incorporate Seasonal Colors and Trends

Retail displays should be designed with the customer in mind. One way to ensure this is by incorporating trendy and seasonal elements into your displays.

To maximize your display’s effectiveness, change it up based on the time of year. For example, if Christmas is coming up, then incorporate some elements into your design that are reminiscent of the holiday season.

As the seasons change, so should your store’s color palette and overall aesthetic. Brighter colors are perfect for spring, while warmer tones work well for autumn. No matter what time of year it is, make sure your store’s layout and displays reflect the current season.

This spring, take your visual merchandising to the next level with some eye-catching color combinations. Below is an example that makes use of bright colors, perfect for this time of year.

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11. Track and Measure Your Efforts

Last but not least, always make sure that you are making the right decisions when it comes to your floor plans, designs, and arrangements. This is crucial to ensuring that you are implementing the best practices.

Observe how your customers act in your stores, where they go, where they stay, and what they do while in your store.

Let’s say you are planning on making major changes to your store’s layout and design. Before doing so, you want to compare your current performance to past results. Once you’ve made the changes, you can then compare the before and after.

Using foot traffic analytic tools, you can gain insights into customer behavior and habits. This can help you make better business decisions that can improve your business.

Ensure that your displays and layouts are set up properly by conducting regular in-store evaluations. Use tools to make sure your stores are compliant.

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Conclusion

If you’re looking how to design a store layout that is both effective and appealing to customers, keep these 11 tips in mind. By tracking and measuring your efforts, you can ensure that your store is set up for success.