First Warning Signs of a Bad Retail Store Layout
Your store’s layout is one of the key determining factors in whether consumers will even walk through the door, much less wander around, make impulse buys, and come back in the future to see what you’re offering. Your layout will draw them in, encourage them to check out the products you’re featuring, and improve your odds of successfully selling high-margin products. If you’re suspicious that your layout isn’t as functional or effective as you would like, there are a few clues that will determine whether your gut feeling is right.
Your Store is Always the Same
Whenever a customer walks through the doors, they see the same displays they saw the last time they were there. If you never change your layout and displays, you’re missing out on some great opportunities. As the seasons change, you need to feature different products — e.g., holiday offerings, seasonal changes in your clothing lines, different impulse items. Hats and gloves during the summer don’t make a lot of sense, but they’re the perfect thing to show off near the checkout line in winter. You can also move the entire layout around to encourage people to come in and explore all over again. Changing the layout regularly will also give you a chance to see what small changes go the furthest in maximizing your space productivity.
There’s No Logic to Your Layout
Your layout shouldn’t be accidental or the product of where things landed when they came into the store. Instead, take the time to think through your layout. Here are several things to consider:
- Place high-demand items near the back of the store so that shoppers need to walk through the entire store to reach them. This is why milk and eggs are always at the back of the grocery store!
- Create a logical pathway through the store that allows shoppers to browse through everything easily.
- Store similar items near one another so that it’s easy for shoppers to make connections and choose to add on items that will complete their purchases.
You Have Dead Zones
Are there areas of your store where there simply isn’t a lot of foot traffic? These could be center aisles that shoppers always seem to navigate around, displays that never attract any attention, or corners that aren’t part of the logical progression through the store. Dead zones don’t produce a lot of sales. Instead, turn these dead spots into productive areas where sales are increased. This might mean changing the layout of your store to bring shoppers to those dead zones more efficiently or transforming the area into something new to draw their attention.
Your First Impression Leaves Something to Be Desired
You may have seconds to convince consumers that they want to enter your store and check out the products you’re offering. Make those first impressions count! The entrance of your store and any window displays need to create an inspiring first impression that will be sure to interest potential customers. This includes:
- weeding out unrelated items that most people just ignore;
- creating an eye-catching display that will slow down people walking past your store and encourage them to come inside;
- designing a “decompression zone” in the first few feet of the store entrance so that shoppers have the chance to transition more effectively from the parking lot to the store; and
- creating an open area that's inviting and easy to navigate.
That first impression will either convince shoppers that they want to visit your store or turn them off. You want it to be convincing! Make your entryway your first priority any time you turn your efforts to redesigning your layout.
Don’t leave your store’s layout to chance or assume that it’s fine because “that’s the way it’s always been, and I’m doing alright.” Instead, maximize your sales and realize the full potential of your store by improving overall layout, taking basic psychology and your own observations into consideration. Test it regularly. Does moving a particular item closer to the front increase sales? What items are customers most likely to pick up at the register? Over time, you’ll find a system that increases your revenue as never before.
Josh Astor works for Marvolus Manufacturing, a leader in the the store display industry for over 60 years.