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Your Store Layout is More Important Than You Think

by | Jul 13, 2022

Have you ever spent more time in a store than you originally intended, roaming every aisle and spending a lot more than you had budgeted for? Well, like thousands of other consumers, you did exactly what retailers want you to do! Your store layout and merchandising are a critical strategy in increasing customer “dwell time” (amount of time a consumer spends in your store) in order to boost sales.

If you’re having trouble keeping shoppers in your store, or you’d like to improve your retail space to attract more customers and encourage more purchases, read on for 7 tips from experts who shared their layout secrets with Entrepreneur.

1. Take Advantage of Your Window Space

If you’re not using your windows to create captivating displays, you’re losing out on a great opportunity. “Just like your eyes are the windows of your store, windows are the eyes of the store,” says store design and display consultant Linda Cahan of Cahan & Co. “Each window should tell a story.”

Create attractive window displays by using a single color theme to snag attention and convey your store’s image. It’s also important to avoid clutter because, according to Cahan, space equals luxury in retail. Cramming items together in a window looks cheap. In fact, Tiffany displays only a few items in the window, communicating that they are unique.

2. Your First Impression Should be Nothing Short of Dazzling

An eye-catching display should be the first thing your customers see when they enter your store. You want to slow them up to prevent them from hurrying through your store and buying little.

For example, Costco sets up large seasonal displays at entrances, using products like fresh plants and large appliances that shoppers can stop and touch, smell or try out.

3. Direct Store Traffic to the right

Studies have shown that most people naturally look left, then right, as they enter a store, says retail branding firm Ikonic TonicTypically, shoppers then prefer to move right and circle around the store.counter-clockwise.

That being said, you should design your store to draw shoppers to the right side of your entryway.

Safeway Marketplace stores, for instance, draw the visitor’s eye to their floral department on the right. There, bright colors and floral scents bring to mind happiness and pleasant memories, elevating customer moods and encouraging them to move right and begin walking the store in a counter-clockwise circuit.

4. Create a Destination at the Back of Your Store

Do you have compelling displays at the end of your aisles? You’re wasting space if your aisles lead customers to, well, nothing—like the back wall, a stockroom, or restrooms.

Instead, use the space at the back of your store as a destination location for your customers, who get tired of browsing long rows of products. To make your back-of-the-store destination stand out, you could place the display perpendicular to other racks.

5. Change Up Your Aisles

Aisles laid out parallel to the store’s exterior walls is efficient, but you can create more visual interest by placing them at an angle. For example, you could angle aisles in, from both sides to a central aisle, forming an arrow layout that ends in a back-wall display. Keep in mind, though, that this layout will only work if you keep aisles wide enough for easy navigation.

6. Create Stopping Points in Your Store Layout

According to one retail expert, when studying shopping patterns with clients it was discovered that up to 20% of the store’s merchandise is skipped over. Why? Because long, uninterrupted aisles don’t really grab people’s attention.

“Create cross aisles that break up the monotony of what can be oppressively long aisles,” suggests POPFuel.  Consider using signs or displays that create visual interest and offer customers unexpected breaks in the middle of long aisles.

7. Don’t Forget to Include Some U-Shaped Spaces

Interestingly, people seem to be attracted to round and U-shapes. Get shoppers to stop at displays in your store by hanging a circular sign from the ceiling or creating a U-shaped background (a low wall with small sides extending forward). A U-shaped layout encourages people to enter the space, which is reminiscent of a person extending their arms for a hug.

Conclusion To Creating An Effective Store Layout

“For as long as retail has been around, retailers have been designing their spaces to drive foot traffic and increase sales with maximum impact,” says DotActive. “The big retail chains have a wealth of strategies to get consumers interested and keep them that way until they buy.”

By implementing the 7 layout secrets we’ve shared above, you can make your retail store more inviting, provide a more engaging experience for your customers and potentially increase purchases.

Talk to an expert at Thriftcart to help grow your thrift retail business.