You have invested in a point-of-sale design and have carefully chosen your products range, but sales are still low? It might be due to poor store layout. Because attractive display windows are not enough. You need to navigate your customers through them in a way that will leave them satisfied and guarantee purchase. And if you have no young proactive sales assistants who can professionally guide a customer to a desired purchase, this function shall be fulfilled by smart layout and zoning of your retail space. This means placing your shop equipment in a way that will ensure:
+ a customer walks through an entire store and sees all merchandise;
+ a customer can easily move between logically and intuitively placed display racks;
+ the placement of various product categories contributes to their maximum economic viability;
+ equipment’s potential is fully harnessed and encourages complex, impulsive, and other types of purchases;
+ the overall mood of the store is pleasant and friendly for making purchases, customers are focused on the merchandize not the interior design.
When designing a retail space, the first step would be to specify its form and total area. Rectangular store layout is the simplest and most convenient type of space in terms of efficient placement of retail equipment. Whereas round or oval layout might pose some problems when it comes to placing display windows, racks, stands...
The next step would be to choose a place for store’s entrance. The vast majority of people are right-handed, meaning that when moving unconsciously, they tend to go from right to left, counterclockwise, to look right and to choose products placed on the right side. One should consider this when planning display racks placement.
Then it is important to define store’s main shopping areas and to distribute brands and product categories among them keeping in mind their capacity and merchandize turnover. The layout also depends on the size of a shop, its price range and products. It should ensure not only high mobility, convenient navigation and circulation of customer flow, but also good visibility of products from all shopping areas of a store.
There are three main zones in a retail space:
1. Entrance zone is a space right in front of the store’s entrance. It’s an area, where customers start to switch their attention from an outside world onto insides of a store. From the first seconds entrance zone should encourage customers to make a purchase, spark their interest and make them feel comfortable. So it makes sense to use this area to place the most attractive products like new arrivals, seasonal and promotional products, impulse goods , products on sale and special offers.
2. Checkout zone is a so-called ‘hot’ area, where customers stand in line for a checkout and tend to scatter their attention looking at products they don’t actually need and making impulsive purchases. Racks with sweets, batteries, lighters, tissues, magazines and other products of impulse demand are usually placed in this area.
3. Main flow zone is the most important area of a retail space. It’s in charge of the amount of purchases of the main product range, especially when store’s area exceeds 100 sq. m. In this case labels, signs and other visual means for marking and regulating the main customer flow paths are usually employed for efficient functioning of the area. Different groups of products are placed in fixed areas according to their classification, which include:
+ Products of steady demand.
+ Products of impulse demand.
+ Products of periodic demand.
The planning of a retail space with floor equipment can be considered efficient, if installation area ratio of such a space varies between 0.25 and 0.35. This means, that the design is balanced: there is no excess in products, nor lack of commercial equipment. To find the ratio one should divide an area of trade equipment by an area of a retail space. In discount stores, for example, the ratio will be high, while luxury stores will show much lower numbers.
There are three basic types of retail space layout: the grid, the loop and the labyrinth.
Big retail stores usually use combination of two or all three above-mentioned types. For example:
+ Big clothing stores successfully combine boutique type of planning with some ‘grid’ bits in certain areas.
+ Big food supermarkets group island shelves into ‘loops’ while wall racks are used to form a ‘grid’.
More and more products in modern retail supermarkets are being displayed on island design equipment or on low round racks. Retail areas are successfully combined with recreation areas, such as bars, cafes and coffee shops. Fruits and veggies departments are designed to look like a regular food market.
Your sales performance will help you define the appropriate installation area ratio. You might need some additional equipment if your sales are low, your target customers have an average or low level of income and you want to improve your current situation. If your sales are high, you might want to revise your product range and exclude hard-to-sell items.
It's obvious that the approach to space layout should be individual for each specific store. However, one can identify a few general principles of retail space layout and zoning, which include:
+ Simpler is better. Simplicity is a basic principle for any store. Easy and familiar product placement will improve the sales. Complex interior design distracts customers from making a purchase.
+ Customers tend to unconsciously go counterclockwise so retail equipment should not stand in their way.
+ Make sure to plan main customer flow path.
+ A small free space at the entrance area will help customers get used to store’s space after entering from a street.
+ Place the most attractive products at the entrance.
+ Good visibility of products is crucial for stores with small shopping space.
+ Place popular ‘anchor’ products far from an entrance so that customers will have to go all the way through a store.
+ You should also consider other basic ergonomic standards like enough space for customers to freely move between racks with their shopping baskets etc.
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