Making design decisions are among the most important tasks you undertake for your retail store. The way the store is decorated sends a message to customers about the kind of merchandise they'll find and the shopping experience they can expect. If you need decoration ideas for a shop, spend time looking online for ideas and visiting shops with merchandise similar to yours.
Decide on a Theme
Your merchandise influences your choice of theme. Boutique shop design decoration for a store featuring high-end clothing might be modeled after something customers would expect to see in a fashion-forward city such as Paris or London. A camping goods retailer could recreate the feeling of the great outdoors with murals of nature scenes and display areas featuring wood or rock.
Retail Shop Design Layout
Create a floor plan that takes advantage of shoppers' natural tendencies to start at the right side of a store and move counterclockwise. The first display they see when entering the store should be high-impact, with on-trend, in-demand products and seasonal items.
Guide customers through a loop, sometimes called a racetrack design, because it feels natural and comfortable. If customers have to zigzag through aisles or cross from one display to another, they may feel uncomfortable without realizing why. Make it easy for customers to stroll through your store and browse. Customers who are comfortable in a store stay longer and are likely to buy more.
Retail Shop Design Layout Strategies
Additional strategies can maximize the effectiveness of your floor plan. Think about ways to incorporate any of the following ideas:
Display high-demand anchor items in prominent places so that customers with specific buying intent can quickly locate what they're looking for. Use the space around anchor items to display related goods that customers didn't realize they wanted or needed. For example, a display of athletic shoes could also include a variety of shoelaces and socks.
Make customers pause along the path with eye-catching displays of items that are in keeping with the products displayed nearby. For example, position a rack of colorful hats and mittens next to a shelf full of winter sweaters. In summer, a display of sunglasses and straw hats complements a rack of bathing suits.
Keep customers from feeling overwhelmed by providing adequate signage to guide them where they want to go. Avoid overly tall shelving so that the entrance and exit are always in view. Leave enough room between displays so that customers have sufficient personal space.
Adjust the Lighting
In selecting lighting for your store, you need to find the right balance between creating a mood and providing sufficient light for customers to see the merchandise. Consider the following:
- Choose lighting with a high color-rendering index (CRI) so that customers can see color as accurately as possible. This is especially important for clothing and food items, where dull or distorted colors could negatively influence purchasing decisions.
- Understand how light affects mood. Warm and ultra-warm white lights create a relaxed vibe, perfect for a small boutique. Dim lights are forgiving when customers are trying on garments. Bright lights, on the other hand, can better showcase a variety of products and make it easier for customers to read product labels and compare items.
- Direct traffic flow. In the U.S., shoppers tend to enter a store and look to the right first. Use lighting to attract their attention to merchandise displayed in this key location. Call attention to other items or sections in the store with lighting that creates a path from that starting point.
- Vary the light sources. Use a combination of track lighting, sconces, lamps and picture lights to highlight merchandise and various areas of the store.
Expand Space With Glass and Mirrors
Glass shelving and display cases take up less space visually than their metal counterparts because light passes through them, and customers can see through them. Glass can make a small store seem larger than it is. Mirrors also expand a space by reflecting light. They're added security, too, helping you to track activity in hard-to-see areas of the store.
Keep Customers Comfortable
In addition to lighting and traffic flow, there are other things you can do to make customers comfortable and keep them in the store longer. Adjust the temperature, which might mean air conditioning in the summer and a lower temperature in winter to accommodate coat-wearing customers. Play background music tailored to the demographic you want to attract. Create a lounge area where shoppers can take a break.
Inexpensive Ideas With Impact
When you don't have a lot of money to spend on decorating, try the tips recommended by design pros:
- Paint an accent wall. Use a bold color on one wall of your shop to create interest and make the space seem larger.
- Think vertically. Take advantage of vertical space, especially when floor space is at a premium. Varying the heights of the displays, such as by hanging shelves at different heights, keeps customers' eyes moving.
- Employ open bookcases as display shelves. Open bookcases are relatively inexpensive and work well as display shelves, whether used vertically or horizontally. They can divide a space without making it look closed off.
- Use neutral backgrounds. Walls and furniture painted in neutral colors fade into the background, letting your merchandise stand out. Because the background is not competing for attention, the space appears less cluttered.
- Keep it clean. Shoppers aren't likely to stay in a store that doesn't appear clean. Make sure windows and glass sparkle and that shelves and merchandise are dust-free. Consider using a subtle ambient scent such as vanilla, citrus or pine.
Many retailers make 30% of their annual sales during November and December. Holiday decorations can play an important part in influencing customers to buy. Get started early, as many shoppers start researching holiday purchases by the end of October. Keep the following points in mind:
- Avoid clutter. A few items, especially high-end items, are more impactful than displays packed with products.
- Choose a featured product. Pick one item to be a focal point and then add other items around it.
- Create a scene. For a sporting goods store, for example, you might show skiers on a snowy slope. If you're selling items for the home, set the stage by creating a cozy nook in front of a fireplace.
- Build a tree. Arrange merchandise pyramid style so that it resembles a Christmas tree.
- Create height. Position items at eye level so customers can see them easily. Vary the heights of display items to create visual interest, but make sure the display is neither too tall nor too wide, preventing customers from seeing through the display and into the store.
- Add light. Use Christmas tree lights as well as spotlights to highlight merchandise and make it visible day or night.
- Walk by and drive by. Go outside and walk past your window. Note what catches your eye. Do the same with a drive-by. When you see your display from the customers' point of view, you can make adjustments as necessary.
Using Professional Design Services
If you're not confident about your design abilities, it may pay in the long run to hire a professional with experience in retail shop design layout and boutique shop design decoration. Using the services of a pro can help you avoid costly design mistakes.
- SuperBrightLEDs.com: The Do's and Don'ts of LED Retail Lighting
- Shopify: How to Create a Path to Draw Your Customers' Eye and Keep Them in the Store Longer
- Staples: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Visual Merchandising Tips
- Square: Retail Holidays: 13 Holiday Window Display Ideas
- Entrepreneur: 7 Low-Cost Design Ideas for Small Retail Spaces
Denise Dayton, M.S., M.Ed. is a freelance writer specializing in careers, education and technology. In addition to writing for corporate clients, she has published articles in Library Journal and The Searcher.