Importance of Store Layout in Retail Businesses
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A store layout is the design of a store’s floor space and the placement of items within that store.

Did you know that customer psychology and your store’s layout go hand in hand?

In-store shopping is still in trend, and this is enough for retailers of all sizes to improve their store’s layout and drive sales up the roof!

You don’t want just to attract a large number of shoppers through the door but also want to provide an unforgettable and convenient shopping experience. For this, understanding “customer psychology” and what influences them positively or negatively with specific regard to your store’s layout is essential.

It’s not just about how your store looks, but also about how your customers feel in your store’s ambiance. Retailers, especially big businesses often invest a lot of resources behind product placements, because they are well-versed with the impact of such changes on their customer’s.

Do you also understand the importance of such in-store retail strategies?

If not, then you are missing out on a great opportunity to boost your business, and also wasting a lot of resources on things that don’t work this efficiently!

Customer is king, and it’s your job to tap into the psychology principles to turn potential customers into actual and loyal consumers.

With years of research, we can say that a store’s design and layout play a significant role in determining your sales. Businesses, mainly small-scale, work day and night to attract and retain customers.

However, one fundamental strategy which is often overlooked is store layout redesigning. If you haven’t taken consumer psychology into consideration while planning your store layout, in that case, your potential customers may opt your competitors, who are doing it right!

Read further to understand various layout tips and tricks and how simple changes can alter your sales almost immediately.

If Stores Layout is not arranged properly, means you’re losing the money on table

Is your competitor’s store doing better than yours?

Have you funded several strategies that just aren’t transforming into the sales you desire?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then we think we know the reason behind it. Businesses often forget that the first thing a customer notices as they enter your store is its layout.

Designing this layout doesn’t require just basic psychology but also involves phases of creativity and testing to see what works and what doesn’t.

From floor plans and lighting to the placement of the cash counters, everything matters.

If your store has not given any importance to such features, no wonder all your customers are drawn towards other big brands! Whether you are a grocery store or a small boutique, these store layout strategies can be your knight in shining armour.

Restructuring the layout is easy, so don’t worry about it! With just a few changes, you’ll see your revenue increase faster than expected.

It’s not only your product or service that needs to be unique, it’s a customer’s shopping experience too. The more shoppers interact with your merchandising strategies, the bigger their spending pockets become.

Let us take an example to understand just how easy it is to restructure! Assuming you are a grocery store, it is known that children often act as influencers for their parents in terms of what products they’d like to buy. Keeping this in mind, you can simply keep high-profit products that will appeal to children at their eye level and not the parent’s eye level to drive sales up.

Even if you have limited eye-level space to not implement the strategy stated above, you can place other attractive elements that will make the children notice items on higher shelves. It is that simple!

Based on the type of store several layouts like a grid, loop, or even a free-layout are chosen. All the layouts have their specific advantages which we’ll discuss later on.

Your store design and customer flow need work to be done, so get on it!

As a small business, it is crucial for you to know the number and type of customers entering your store. After studying their browsing patterns and trends, you can learn where to place your products for increased cash flows.

Next, we find out how some of the biggest players in the market convert store layout strategies into thriving sales.

How Big Brands are Using Store Layouts to Make Customers Buy More

Let’s look at one that can help you understand the concept of store layout tricks better.

Apple, the tech industry pioneer, focuses on consistency while planning and designing their stores. Their approach involves a minimalistic experience for their customers, with all their products under the spotlight.

Whether in India or Germany’s airport, every Apple store provides the same in-store experience because they’ve learned it works best and fulfills customer expectations. You’ll even notice that all their products are positioned in similar angles to be more eye-catching.

One trick for a business with multiple stores is to start with a uniform store layout amongst all their stores. This includes their floor plans, products’ position according to their category, lightings, design, colors, etc.

How your customers view your brand will instantly transform, and this is particularly useful for retail brands.

So, what values has Apple instilled in its customers with a consistent store layout?

Building Trust

Regardless of store’s location, a consistent store design has helped Apple create a brand personality. Allowing their potential buyers to build trust with the brand depends on them. 

Better Recognition 

With consistency across all stores, Apple mirror’s a clear purpose and design, leaving no confusion in the people’s minds. For example, if you see an Apple store from outside without even looking at the brand hoarding, you’ll know which brand’s store it is. 

Increased Quality 

A consistent layout mirrors the brand’s consideration to detail. In return, it helps customers trust the quality and service of Apple. They have not just focused on their products but also a customer’s shopping experience and the right ambiance that drives them to make decisions that benefit the brand.

Taking the example of big department stores like Big Bazaar and More, we can see how their layout consists of wider aisles for customers to walk through.

This is because overcrowding of the sales floor with extra merchandise can increase traffic in the area, thus making it less appealing to many customers.

A buyer often prefers a more clean and wide aisle for a comfortable shopping experience.

Several grocery stores place basic grocery items like milk and eggs at the very end of the store so that buyers have to walk through several other shelves and products, encouraging them to purchase more.

Store layout strategies like the ones mentioned above have been deemed to be extremely useful and profitable.

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Examples of ‘Ikea’ Store Layout

(Tier techniques of increasing the normal and impulsive buying)

From University College London, Alan Penn says that “IKEA’s store layout is a psychological weapon used to confuse and disorientate shoppers into spending more.”

IKEA is one of the largest retailers and furniture brands in the world. Many people believe the store layout is pure genius, helping them drive impulse buying ratios of customers through the roof! With IKEA, we can see how it’s not just about offering well-designed products but also about a customer’s shopping experience.

Coming to the store’s design, it is a circular design with a one-way route. The infamous maze-like design has shoppers coming out with bags full of products when they just went to purchase a select few.

The products are placed in such a manner that as you walk around the store, you can’t see the products ahead. The sense of mystery and fear of losing out on certain amazing products often have buyers scanning every corner of the store unintentionally!

The maze-like structure also caters to the customer’s aesthetic and inspiration, all while showing how diverse IKEA products really are.

The stores are known to use the “bulla bulla” technique wherein products are put into bins to display large volumes in relation to low prices.

Another attractive store layout strategy here is the way their products like furniture, pillows, and other similar home goods are decorated in mock rooms.

This setting doesn’t just allow customers to get a feel of IKEA’s products but also encourages them to appreciate them because of natural and familiar settings.

Their layout strategy directing customers towards a one-directional path empowers them to walk through their entire store and see all their inventory.

Though there are subtle exit points in the middle, you’ll see very few customers taking these short-cuts. Large arrows on the floor guide this path along with store maps here and there.

IKEA’s store layout confuses buyers to purchase items that they don’t need and weren’t on their shopping list. As soon as customers see something attractive, they will put it in their trolley right away due to the fear of not going back and finding it.

This triggers impulsive purchases amongst customers.

IKEA also aims to be consistent with its store design across the world. Still, sometimes, it sticks to the respective country’s local cultures and tastes.

For example, the IKEA store in China features smaller rooms with balconies to resonate well with the Chinese population.

With all these layout strategies, we can see how IKEA has cracked customer psychology principles and used them to their benefit.

The store ambiance, large volumes and low prices, maze-like structure, and one-directional pathways boost the retail brand’s sales.

How Small Indian Retailers can use Store Layout Tricks to Increase Their Sales

All these tips and tricks sound easy to implement, especially for big brands. However, these strategies are easy to put into action even if you are a small-scale retailer. Before designing your store layout, make a note of the following customer habits:

  • Shoppers walk counterclockwise, so when you see them entering a store, you’ll notice almost all of them turn to their right. 
  • Shoppers often find it inconvenient when a store has multiple floors. They like finding all their products on the same floor they entered.
  • Buyers also find narrow aisles uncomfortable, so ensure that your store aisles are wide enough. 

Let’s see how you can learn from industry leaders and design layout strategies perfect for your business. 

First and foremost, your store’s floor plan and the route that a customer would take within your store to explore your products have to be planned appropriately.

You can either use pre-set layouts that are commonly used or design one yourself, depending upon the path you’d like your customers to take. 

Let’s understand the 3 most common layouts used by retailers: 

Grid

This layout is one of the most cost and space-effective designs that enable customers to move around your entire store and identify the products they need.

The aisles are nearly the same width with shelves arranged parallelly on either side and cash registers at the store’s entrance/exit. An excellent example of stores using such layouts is supermarkets.

Racetrack

If your objective is to tell your customer a poetic story, this is the best layout. Here, all aisles are distinguished from each other using varying colors, surfaces and have separate cash registers in each department.

This store layout empowers products in every department to be in the spotlight, promotes impulse buying, and reduces billing time for your customers. Racetrack layouts can be found in various fashion stores.

Free-Form

Famously used in small boutiques, this layout mirrors a comfortable and at-home feeling for customers.

The plan incorporates asymmetrical designs with organized aisles. However, you must keep in mind that such layouts must be designed in a flexible manner, open to changes in customer preferences and trends.

This is because what might be positively influencing customers today may not do the same tomorrow. Retailers using this technique can showcase their creativity but have to ensure adaptability.

A few recommendations Indian retailers can make use of:

Attractive Window Displays

To draw in more customers, it is crucial to have unique and engaging window displays.

Say ‘NO’ to Clutter

Try not to have too many products or decorations at the entrance. The area a few feet away from the entrance is known as the ‘decompression zone’ wherein customers don’t pay most attention to what’s around them.

Help Locate Products

Make your customer’s shopping experience effortless by helping them find products around your store. You can make use of signs, graphics, mark specific areas, have unique product shelves, and also display offers through vinyl posters.

Place Your Products at Eye-Level

To further boost your sales and ensure that customers are looking at your products, ensure that they are placed at your target audience’s eye-level.

Perfect Lighting

Ensure that the lighting puts the products in the spotlight so that they look and sell better.

Products at Checkout Areas

Place your lower-cost products at checkout and high-traffic sections to increase impulse buying. Ensuring that the checkout lines are not too long and have enough space for customers to exit will also increase the comfort level of buyers.

Cross Merchandising

By segregating similar and complementary products into categories and departments, customers can appreciate the convenience of shopping at your store.

Retailers can make use of a planogram, a visual merchandising tool, that assists with specific product placements with great detail. This reduces any confusion, and ensures that strategies regarding product placements on shelves are being followed to maximise sales.

There are several pre-made templates based on your industry type or you could even hire a planogrammer to assist you with the process!

How brands are helping their retailers to increase the sales

Have you ever noticed a Cadbury square chocolate box in small stores and even large departmental stores in your city?

What about PepsiCo’s beverage fridges at restaurants and roadside dhabas?

Cadbury and PepsiCo are examples of companies that have made use of their brand identity to pair up with retailers around the country to sell their products.

All these branding techniques have been introduced to not just benefit themselves but also benefit the retailers selling them.

We can say that this ‘store-within-a-store’ strategy enables retailers to draw in more customers, have more inventory, and make more sales. Whereas, the brand’s like Cadbury are using such opportunities to not just boost sales but build their brand recognition.

Retailer’s don’t realise this but by brands providing special shelves or distinct packaging for their products, they are automatically changing the store layout of retailers.

If you’re a small departmental store or even a pharmaceutical store, there are chances that companies like Cadbury have approached you with their products and it’s distinctive packaging box.

They urge to keep these near the cash counters or in checkout areas. Have you wondered how these can benefit or harm retailers? Read further to find out the outcomes of these brand recognition strategies;

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Pros and Cons of Implementation of This Method Unintentionally

When talking about the advantages of such ‘store-within-a-store’ strategies for host retailers, they get a chance to add inventory in their stores without any extra costs.

Seeing such distinctive brands in the store can also increase the retailer’s sales. This method is an effortless manner for host retailers to rejuvenate their store layout and brand.

Another benefit to keep in mind includes added convenience and product diversity for customers, providing them with a different shopping experience.

Taking the example of the famous retail store Lifestyle, we can see how customers can purchase everything from clothes, sunglasses, shoes, to even handbags and accessories from countless brands.

This convenience and store-in-store approach is attractive to customers who value their time and effort invested in the shopping process. Thinking from the viewpoint of the brands, looking to expand their customer base through these host sellers.

We can see how these brands cut large marketing costs, manage their inventory themselves, and also increase sales of their products without much effort.

Of course, such strategies also come with their disadvantages to the host retailers and the brand themselves.

Talking about the host retailer’s difficulties, it is possible that the products take up excess space and do not fit well in the store’s layout. The products can also cause unnecessary competition with the host-retailers products and harm their sales.

Keeping up with extra inventory and keeping track of added products could also mean extra work for the host retailer. Host retailers often do not realize this brand strategy’s consequences as they believe they are being handed a good deal.

However, all their customers may only start focusing on these products and not the rest.

Do different industry stores need different layout and arrangements?

Of course, every industry will need different layout designs depending upon their customer’s behaviour and preferences. It all comes down to whether you have done this homework comprehensively.

Every industry can find success by switching up their layouts if done right. It takes time and effort to plan appropriate floor plan and store design, so don’t rush into it.

Let’s look at different floor plans and which type of industry they suit best.

As we read previously, there are a plethora of store layouts that can be chosen by retailers. Depending upon your products, you can select a straight, diagonal, angular, race track, grid, loop, etc. layouts.

Following are a few examples of different industries making use of varying store designs;

Straight Floor Plans

One of the most cost-efficient and straightforward layouts that use walls and fixtures to create small spaces to maximise the selling area. If your store is a liquor store, convenience store or a small market then this layout is a wise choice!

Angular Floor Plans

Ideal for stores wanting to mirror a high-end and expensive environment to customers. Here, only a select number of products in trend are displayed due to floor and shelf space limitation.

The curves and angles of the fixtures attract customers with their unique ambience. If your store belongs to the luxury segment, this type of layout is perfect.

Geometric Floor Plans

Perfect for clothing and apparel clothes looking to reflect creativity without investing large sums of money. Here, all the shelves and fixtures create an extraordinary shape or pattern that appeals to the consumer and allows them to browse the areas conveniently.

Mixed Store Layout

Involve a blend of several layouts. For example, departmental stores and grocery stores often use a combination of straight, diagonal, and angular designs to feature their products.

Through this, customers have the independence to navigate themselves through primary grocery sections. They are still presented with an angular layout near high-priced items like wine.

Conclusion

No matter what size your business is, a few store layout strategies could really switch up the game for you. If you think you haven’t incorporated any essential consumer psychology principles while deciding where and how to plan your product placements, it’s never too late.

If you are a small Indian retailer looking to revitalize your brand and store, take inspiration from the strategies above to turn your browsers into buyers!

Research and testing are necessary when deciding which layout works best for you. You can even see what layouts work best for your competitors and industry leaders to gain inspiration.

Remember, it’s not just about how your store looks, but also about how your customers feel in them. A one-time investment as one may see it, and minute changes can lead to a hike in sales quicker than you can imagine.

With the strategies stated in the article, we’ve already done half your work, and now it’s your time to shine!

 

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Prashant Kumar

Prashant Kumar

Associate Growth Manager

Prashant is Associate Growth Manager in PagarBook and manages all the organic web presence for brand. 

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