A wide shot of a clothing store. The room is large and white, with mirrors and mannequins lining the walls. Racks of clothing stand in rows, and a rack of black shirts on hangers stands in the foreground, close to the camera and out of focus on the left side of the photo. In the middle of the room is a female store employee, wearing a dark blue denim apron and looking at an electronic tablet.
Shoppers are likely most familiar with the grid and straight layouts, which arrange products in rows. These layouts are good for ease of movement and ease in locating items. — Getty Images/Edwin Tan

Certain retail store floor layouts can have a positive impact on customer experience, retention and sales. From geometric patterns to grids to free flow, there are multiple layouts to consider for your store. Here are some ideas to help improve sales with your floor layout.

Retail store layout options

Straight/spine

A straight store layout, or a spine layout, features a single aisle going from the front to the back of the store with shelving on either side. This layout encourages customers’ movement, especially in department stores for accessibility between floors. A downside to this layout is customers may go too quickly through the spine and miss out on specific merchandise. However, the spine layout increases sales of merchandise that wouldn’t otherwise be seen in the back of the store.

Grid

A grid layout is a basic layout you’ll see in many grocery stores or retail stores such as the Apple store. The grid layout is best suited for stores that want to utilize every corner of available space. Use this plan to get customers familiar with the locations of their favorite products, promoting repeat sales.

Geometric

A geometric layout combines functionality and creativity so you can display merchandise in a unique way. This type of layout doesn’t have stringent regulations and offers a low-cost option to stand out. A con to this layout is that these creative patterns may not work well in maximizing available space. Additionally, the layout may not be as accessible for differently abled shoppers. The geometric layout does, however, contribute to your brand recognition, and it boosts sales in the process.

Diagonal

Diagonal store layouts maximize limited spacing by providing diagonally aligned shelving and narrow aisles. This alternative to the grid layout is the best way to lead consumers around the aisles and to the checkout counter. Display your featured merchandise on the ends of the aisles to promote sales of these items. A downside to this layout is that if a customer has their sights set on a particular product, it can be difficult for them to make a direct detour.

The use of certain colors may incentivize shoppers or lead them to certain items.

Free flow

A free flow or free form layout provides guests with an unpredictable pattern of aisles and displays. If done incorrectly, a free flow pattern can become too chaotic and cause consumers to bump into angled displays or make it difficult for differently abled customers to get around. Stores that utilize this layout are usually boutiques or high-end shops with limited products. With products displayed so prominently, it creates transparency between your products and the consumer, which can drive sales.

Forced

A forced layout works exactly as the name entails — shoppers must make their way through the store in the way it was designed without a quick path to certain items. An example of this layout is an IKEA store. This is an excellent layout for stores that want to upsell impulse items within a forced design. A con to a forced layout is that some consumers may want to venture outside the parameters you have set.

[Read more: 5 Consumer Trends Businesses Should Know]

Store layout considerations

When planning out your retail store layout, incorporating these factors may help you create a better experience for your shoppers.

  • Color psychology. The use of certain colors may incentivize shoppers or lead them to certain items. For example, red is often used to display clearance items and encourage quick purchasing decisions, as it may heighten a person’s energy and contributes to an increased heart rate. Green, on the other hand, is easy for our eyes to process and is used in stores that want to create a relaxing atmosphere.
  • Decompression or transition zones. A decompression or transition zone is a perfect place for shoppers to consider a purchase. This should be a calm space away from the hustle and bustle of other shoppers. A decompression zone can also be in the front of the store to prepare customers for their shopping experience.
  • Use speed bumps. Slow customers down and incorporate stopping points into their shopping experience in the form of signs or displays. For example, if you don’t want a consumer to miss a certain product, create a sign that makes them want to stroll through an aisle.
  • Invest in experiential marketing. Experiential marketing relies on the senses and a consumer’s experience in order to gather sales. A few ways to cater to a consumer’s experience include providing samples of your product, having a certain scent wafting in your store or providing ambient music choices.

[Read more: Craft Retailer Joann Embraces These Post-Pandemic Customer Service Lessons]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published March 18, 2022