Home
Business-Wise
Kate's Collage
"Vinny Da Vendor"
"Benny Da Buyer"
Kizer & Bender
Memory, Paper & Stamps
Category Reports
Designing Perspectives
Scene & Heard


Creative Leisure News
306 Parker Circle
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: 785-760-5071
Email: mike@clnonline.com


 


A view of the industry through the eyes of independent and chain retailers.

Printer Version

The Art of the Layout: Everything You Need to Know about the Science of Store Design

It DOES make a difference in store sales.

by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender (March 23, 2009)

Store planning and design has consistently been at the top of our list of things retailers need to do well in order to have a successful store. Merchandise will sell itself when a store's design is good, but when it's not, even the best product can sit on your shelves gathering dust. The purpose of your store's design is not merely to look pretty, its purpose is to create an environment that attracts customers, entices them to spend time in the store, and encourage them to purchase impulsively while they are there. It's a tall order, but it's easier than you might think.

That's because much of store planning is time-honored science. Professional store planners know that every single square foot of your sales floor has a specific job to do; you will, too, after reading this article. So whether you are opening a brand new store or perking up your existing one, these ideas will keep you on the right track:

Inside the Front Door

The first thing shoppers will notice inside your store is your décor package; we say package because all of the elements - walls, flooring, primary and accent colors, fixturing, signing, wall striping, etc. - must work together to tell a single story.

There are two kinds of colors used in store décor: Primary Colors (neutrals) and Secondary Colors (bold accent colors). Primary colors are used in 80% of the store's décor to create a relaxed atmosphere for customers to shop. Accent Colors are used in 20% of the store's décor to make it pop. Think of accent colors as attention grabbers.

Once, after a presentation on store design, a retailer approached us and asked if we'd take a look at photos of his newly remodeled store. His newly remodeled RED store. Instead of a store planner, he had hired an interior designer with wild ideas. The floors were shiny red, the fixtures were red, the walls were red, the checkout counters were red – you get the picture. Red is a dominant color, and exposure to that much color makes most people antsy. It's a great accent color because it stimulates shoppers to make quick decisions, but as a primary color it's a bust.

So we asked the retailer to place an associate at the front of his store for two weeks to clock how long customers stayed in the store. Just as we suspected, customers didn't stay in the store longer than they had to, and the retailer had to re-do his entire store to get sales back on track.

Which Store Layout is Right?

All store layouts are affected by the shape and size of the sales floor, but the common goal is to expose shoppers to product and to gain maximum traffic flow. There are three layouts that are typically used in store design, the Grid Layout, the Loop (Racetrack) Layout, and the Free Flow Layout.

In a Grid Layout, fixtures run parallel to the walls, so customers typically grab a shopping cart, start in a front corner and walk each and every aisle. Grid layouts are easy to shop because they offer clean sight lines throughout the entire store. Another plus: Grids allow for maximum End Feature exposure. Grid layouts can be found in grocery stores, but you will also find them utilized in many big box stores.

A Loop Layout offers a clearly defined main aisle that circles through the store like a race track. Fixture placement in a Loop Layout differs in different parts of the store: The perimeter fixtures run perpendicular to the wall, and the fixtures in the center of the loop run parallel to the side walls. In a Loop layout shoppers typically flow to the right and move up and down the aisles in a serpentine manner. Loop layouts offer maximum product exposure because the perimeter walls are just as important as the end features the layout leads customers to the wall each time they go down an aisle. Target and Best Buy are two good examples of stores that utilize a Loop layout.

Small and specialty retailers typically use a Free Flow Layout because it allows for the most creativity. In a Free Flow layout, there are no set aisles or straight lines. Instead, fixturing is placed at angles, encouraging shoppers to easily move throughout the store, where they will find new merchandise displays at every turn. This layout offers many opportunities to romance the merchandise and create lifestyle display vignettes.

If you already have a blueprint of your store, then you are ahead of the game. A blueprint will help you determine choice of layout and appropriate locations for merchandise departments. If you don't have one, don't worry! Get a large piece of paper and draw a schematic of your own. Measure both the sales floor and non-selling areas, carefully noting all the nuances including columns, doors, bathrooms, service areas, etc. Next, mount your schematic to a piece of foam core board, and overlay it with transparent tissue paper. Now, you will be able to merchandise and re-merchandise your sales floor on paper before you ever touch a fixture!

A Word about Fixturing

It's dangerous to fall in love with your store fixtures. Keep in mind that the true purpose of your fixtures is to house merchandise: you aren't supposed to see them. Target Stores come to mind as a good example of correct use of fixturing. When you think of Target you get an image of great product; what doesn't come to mind are the fixtures housing that great product. That's because Target makes the merchandise the star. The company uses basic gondolas and pegboard to maximize dollars per square foot, and display techniques to make the merchandise pop. Yes, you will find specialty fixturing peppered throughout the store, but they are used as features, not to house basic merchandise.

Fixture placement will depend upon your choice of layout. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires a minimum of 3'.6" in between fixtures. (Visit the ADA website at http://www.ada.gov for more information.) 3'.6" just makes sense; anything smaller and shoppers will be uncomfortable. Grab a shopping cart and maneuver the aisles. Can you do it easily? Do the same exercise with a wheel chair, a stroller, and a motorized scooter. If customers can't comfortably shop, they can't buy.

Lake Front Property

Some areas of your sales floor are more important an others. Think of them as prime real estate or lake front property. As shoppers walk in the front door, they should be surrounded by merchandise; this is not the place for the checkout counters or other service areas. Professional store planners know that if you mis-merchandise these areas, it will cost you in sales. Here are the key areas you need to pay close attention to throughout your store:

The Decompression Zone

The Decompression Zone is the space that's located just inside your front door. The size of your DZ will depend upon the size of your sales floor, but it's generally the first 5' to 15' inside the front door. Its purpose is to give shoppers a chance to transition from whatever happened in the parking lot, to your store – it refocuses the customer on shopping. Your DZ needs to be open, inviting, and easy to navigate. Understand that shoppers will miss anything you place here, that's why the DZ is not the place ideal for shopping carts, baskets, or signing because customers will blow right by them. Instead place these items just outside your DZ where shoppers are more likely to see them.

Speed Bumps

Just past the Decompression Zone is where you place fixtures known as Speed Bumps. These merchandise displays work much the same way as speed bumps in parking lots work: they slow customers down. They also grab their attention and introduce them to the cool product for sale in your store. Specialty fixturing, such as slat board 4-ways, make great Speed Bumps. Small tables work well, too. Use Speed Bumps to feature new and seasonal items, and to tell product stories. And be sure to rotate the product on your Speed Bumps at least once a week.

Attention! Right Turn Ahead!

Ninety percent of the customers who enter your store will turn to the right, so it's important to merchandise this area with care. Walk inside your front door, stop just past your Decompression Zone, and look to your right. The wall you see is called a Power Wall and it's another one of those key merchandising areas. And because it's the first wall shoppers see after turning right, it's a perception builder. If you use this area to house basic product you are making a mistake. Put your best foot forward by using this Power Wall to display important departments and new and seasonal items; to create vignettes; to tell product stories; and to feature high-demand and high-profit items. (Note: Your store has more than one Power Wall. Stand in various places throughout your store and look around; the walls that stand out are your Power Walls. If yours are non-descript, then use slat board to crop the corners, and you will create instant power walls.)

The Front Right Is NOT the Best Place for the Checkout Counter

A common mistake in store layout is placing the checkout counter at the right front of the store, smack dab in the middle of your lake front property. You may argue that it's nice to have someone right up front to say hello to shoppers as they enter the store, but that problem can be solved by a Greeter on busy days. Your checkout should be located at a natural stopping point in the shopping experience: the left side of the store, close to the front, is good choice.

And your checkout counter should be designed to sell! Embrace these five rules: 1. Give shoppers enough space to comfortably complete their transaction. This means room for a female shopper to place both her handbag and her purchase on the counter. 2. Create an interesting display of product behind the checkout counter. You want customers to continue shopping, even while waiting to pay for their purchases.3. Make sure that your policy signing is friendly, inviting, polite and positive – nuke the "NO! NO! NO's!". 4. Load up the checkout counter with "I have to have this!" impulse items (and "shut-up" toys as in "Mommy, can I have a ball?" "No." "Mommy, can I have a ball?" "No." "Mommy, can I have a ball?" "SHUT UP! WHAT COLOR DO YOU WANT!?"). 5. Stock items customers need, but frequently forget, under the checkout counters. Then when cashiers ask, "Did you find everything you were looking for today?" and the customer says "No! I forgot X; I'll get it next time." The cashier can simply reach under the counter and grab it - instant add-on sale!

Merchandise Outposts

The next time you are in a grocery store keep an eye out for displays of product that are placed near or in the aisles. These fixtures are called Merchandise Outposts, and their sole purpose is to encourage impulse purchases. Merchandise Outposts make shoppers stop and think, "I need that!" They provide the perfect opportunity to cross-merchandise in a big way. Department stores jump start sales by loading up the aisles during the holidays with Merchandise Outposts. You should, too.

After you read this article, take a trip to your local mall and study the bones of each store. You will see how these universal store planning truths have been tweaked for each application. And they will work in your store as well. Whether you are gearing up for a new store, or just in need of a sales floor shuffle, remember that you are not alone. If you're not sure what to do first, give us a call, or email photos and we'll share ideas to help get you started. We'll even pay for the call!

(Note: Professional speakers, authors, and consultants, Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender are nationally recognized experts on customer diversity, marketing & promotion, and everything that affects and interacts with consumers in the retail environment. Each year Kizer & Bender speak to thousands through their "Retail Adventures in the REAL World™" keynotes and seminars. Their unique consumer insights are widely featured in the media, including the ABC National News special report, "How Stores Hook You." Their book, Champagne Strategies on a Beer Budget!, has helped thousands of retailers improve their bottom line, and their "Retail Adventures™" Blog is visited by tens of thousands of readers each month. In 2004 they were named two of the "Most Influential People in Retail Today," and their popular magazine column, "Georganne & Rich on the Road," won the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) Award of Excellence in 2004 and again in 2006.)

You'll find thousands of strategies, tactics, tip and techniques to help you grow your business on our Retail Adventures™ blog: http://www.kizerandbender.blogspot.com. We really mean it when we say to call us if you want to talk about your store. We know how tough it is right now, and we're happy to brainstorm ideas with you – we want you to succeed!

xxx

 

horizontal rule

horizontal rule



   
   

Kizer & Bender's Recent Columns...
VISUAL MERCHANDISING, PT. II; Add new life to your displays by knowing how people browse and shop.

VISUAL MERCHANDISING, PT. I; Taking the mystery out of a well designed store.

SHEER INTENSITY! THE RETAIL BOOT CAMP; How to make 2013 a great year.

42 GREAT IDEAS TO "WOW" YOUR CUSTOMERS; Suggestions for your store and staff.

NEW YEAR, NEW ATTITUDE; Change is inevitable, and improving your employees' attitude can be done.

HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR SUCCESS AT TRADE SHOWS; Make sure you optimize your return on your trade show investment.

10 IDEAS TO JUMP START YOUR BUSINESS! Strategies to make 2012 a success.

PRE-HOLIDAY HOMEWORK; WANT TO MAZIMIZE HOLIDAY SALES AND PROFITS? Get started now.

"LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS, THEY'RE SMARTER THAN YOU"; Savvy, inexpensive ways to improve your customer service.

GENERATIONS 101; Different strokes (and strategies) for different folks.

HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR SUCCESS AT TRADE SHOWS; Straightforward advice that can increase the return on your trade show investment.

5 SUREFIRE WAYS TO ESTABLISH YOUR BRAND; Create a good story, then tell it.

WHEN BIG IDEAS DON'T WORK, IT'S OK TO MOVE ON! Learn from the example of a Las Vegas mogul.

IS YOUR BUSINESS "ZOOMER" FRIENDLY? Nine ways to make your store more convenient for older customers.

CRAFTING THE ULTIMATE CHARITY EVENT; Participating in cause marketing helps a worthy cause and promotes your business. Here's how to do it right.

FAUX SHOPPING FOR REAL RESULTS; Imagine all consumers are mystery shoppers because, in a sense, they are.

RETAIL IS IN THE DETAILS: HOW TO PLAN EXTRAORDINARY EVENTS; Planning, planning, and more planning.

5 THINGS YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW TO IMPROVE CUSTOMER SERVICE; Customer service is an election every day, and your customers are the voters.

HAUL OUT THE HOLLY: IT'S CHRISTMAS TIME ON THE SALES FLOOR! Nine way$ to make your Christmas Merry.

WORD OF MOUTH: SOCIAL MEDIA 101; And a preview of upcoming seminars.

ARE YOUR READY FOR RECORD HALLOWEEN SALES? Thirteen ways to make it happen.

WE'D SHAKE YOUR ANTENNAE BUT WE'RE TOO TIRED; Has your business ever bugged a customer? Here's what not to do.

510 TIPS TO SURVIVE IN A TOUGH ECONOMY; When the going gets tough, the tough...

50 IDEAS TO INCREASE STORE SALES! Basic, simple, and effective.

COLOR PSYCHOLOGY: THE USE OF COLOR IN STORE DESIGN; Your store's color scheme can boost sales, or kill them.

TAKING CUSTOMER SERVICE TO THE NEXT LEVEL; It's a constant struggle, but with big rewards.

THE 360 DEGREE PASS-BY; Take a close -- and closer -- look at your store.

SOAR ABOVE COPY CAT COMPETITION; And fly away with more traffic, sales, and profits.

"ALEX, WE'LL TAKE 'THINGS THAT CHEESE US OFF' FOR $500!"; Perhaps it was a customer, not you, who infuriated a customer, but you still must deal with the anger.

WHY YOU NEED AN EXECUTIVE OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES; Someone to study what your customers do, act, think, and where they shop.

HOIST YOUR SALES WITH RETAILER-TESTED, IN-STORE EVENTS AND PROMOTIONS; Two dozen proven strategies.

BOOST YOUR ECONOMY - CREATIVE A COUPONOMY! Profitable ways to use coupons.

THE SALES POTENTIAL IN PROMS AND SCHOOL DRESSES; Rich and Georganne interview themselves on a new retail sales opportunity.

MERCHANDISING SENSE; Strategies to help consumers see, hear, taste, touch, smell -- and then buy.

THE FINE ART OF ASKING QUESTIONS; The smart questions result in better sales.

20 PERCENT DISCIPLES; Your best customers can help you attract new customers.

DUDE, YOU'VE BEEN AIRLINED. AGAIN; These are "friendly skies"?

HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR SUCCESS AT TRADE SHOWS; Straightforward advice that can make a big difference.

IT'S THE CUSTOMERS DEFINITION OF SERVICE THAT COUNTS, NOT YOURS; Apple needs some help - and K&B's CHA seminar schedule.

IS THE CUSTOMER ALWAYS RIGHT? Manufacturers have to handle irate consumers, too.

TURNING LIONS INTO LAMBS; How an angry customer can become a loyal fan.

12 EASY WAYS TO MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS; Simple, straightforward, and effective.

LOVE ME, LOVE MY KIDS; How to keep children happy in your store.

HE SHOPS, SHE SHOPS ... DIFFERENTLY; And that can make a big difference in your sales.

BRAND AID; Building a brand is simple: consistency and attention to detail.

CLANDESTINE RETAILING; CREATING NEW CUSTOMERS! Clever, creative, and inexpensive ideas.

TELEPHONE ETIQUETTE; Simple tips to make a good impression.

WHAT TO DO ON YOUR CUSTOMERS' VACATIONS; How to entice them into your store for summer fun.

STAKE YOUR CLAIM ... DON'T PLAY THE RECESSION GAME! Attitude makes all the difference.

HEY THERE! HI THERE! OH THERE! How a day at Disney can make you a better retailer.

STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT DIVERSITY AND DEMOGRAPHICS; What works for one group may hurt sales with another.

LAGNIAPPES: THE INDEPENDENT RETAILER'S SECRET WEAPON; Simple gestures can reap big rewards.

A MIRACLE IN RETAIL; What a hockey coach can teach you about building a great team.

THE CUSTOMER SERVICE CIRCLE; How your staff gets along with each other makes a big difference.

THE ART OF THE LAYOUT: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SCIENCE OF STORE DESIGN; It DOES make a difference in store sales.

YOU HAD US AT "HELLO"; Simple, common sense ways to improve customer service.

POSITIVE THINGS YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW TO HELP YOUR BUSINESS; Don't complain, act!

SIX TRAINING TIPS TO GROW YOUR GREATEST ASSETS; Basic ways to make your employees more effective.

HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR SUCCESS AT TRADE SHOWS; Straightforward advice that can increase the return on your trade show investment.