Whether you're designing traffic flow for a large retail center or a small mom-and-pop operation, store layout is important to customer navigation and ease of access. According to Tenato market research, sales and repeat business goes up when the customer is comfortable in the property and doesn't have to work hard to find specific items.
Maximize Your Space
According to Entrepreneur, all aisles must be wide enough for two customers to navigate simultaneously without bumping into each other. The items on shelves have to be accessible; the exceptions are items that are exceptionally heavy and require assistance, or something easily breakable, expensive or delicate. If you have a clothing store and want to place outfits on wall racks for visual appeal and to use space efficiently, include tall hangar hooks so customers can bring down items for closer inspection.
Grouping and Signage
Similar items from like categories should be in the same area of the store. For example, the dental floss should be near the toothpaste, and hosiery near the shoes. Entrepreneur suggests putting key categories on u-shaped or curved overhead signage per aisle so consumers can easily find what they're looking for. Entrepreneur also recommends putting your expensive brands at eye-level. It can entice customers to buy them right away instead of looking for a less-expensive alternative. On that note, if you've got a clearance aisle, but it near the back of the store.
The best promotions won't matter if a customer has to search to find them. According to Entrepreneur, any promotions you're doing need to be front-and-center and backed by eye-catching displays. The displays must be in main areas customers have to pass through to maximize product exposure. The best places are near the entry, or a section next to a center aisle. The signs near it need to point out any specials or new arrivals.
Up-Sales and Impulse Buys
Impulse items are those things the customers didn't come to the store to get, but just may pick up if they see them. That means they should always be close to where people are stopping or ready to check out. For example, put a cooler with cold drinks near the checkout in a grocery store. If you've got a clothing boutique, you want the mini-bottles of nail polish and lip gloss by the register. In a hardware store, the load-out areas should have bins for tool belts, key chains, sunglasses, hand cleaners and grab-and-go snacks.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.