How can you design your in-store customer experience to compete with the appeal of digital purchases? Start with the best store layout for your ideal clientele. Whether you’re planning a retail store layout or grocery store design, understanding your customers helps you develop a floor plan that increases your profits by keeping clients happy.

Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Store Layout

Along with floor dimensions, it’s essential to do store layout research before designing your plan. However, choosing the best store layout involves more than adjusting your aisle size or sticking to typical measurements. Instead, it starts with your customers.

Specifically, with an “emphasis on the customer behavior and the customer experiences the retailer wants to achieve,” according to Lene Granzau Juel-Jacobsen in The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research. Factors affecting store layout also include traffic flow and presentation spaces.

Customer Desires

Refer to your customer research and determine what your clients need from your company and your store. Do they crave a luxurious experience or demand convenience? Perhaps, your customer-centric space provides a bit of both using a combination of exciting displays and familiar floor layouts.

Think about who shops at your store as well. While a toy store might provide areas for play and room for strollers, an upscale boutique may deliver an experience designed solely for adults. Address the consumer’s main concerns first, then move on to the logistics of your store layout ideas.

Store Density Levels

Store density levels matter for a couple of reasons. First, the appearance of a packed store draws people in by playing on their fear of missing out (FOMO). Yet, if your customers can’t comfortably fit down an aisle, then they may be less likely to make a purchase.

But low traffic doesn’t mean you’ll lose out on sales, and not all stores need aisle space to fit an entire family. A simple retail store layout plan strikes a balance between both store traffic and customer traffic flow.

  • Store traffic is the number of customers who will enter your shop on any given day. How many people do you expect to shop in your store regularly compared to maximum traffic days, like Black Friday?
  • Customer traffic flow is the direction your customers will take once they enter your doors. How will customers navigate your store layout during slow and busy times? Will congested paths alter the flow of customers?

Stock and Presentation Space

Does your business want to attract customers who crave value? If so, then there’s a good chance that you’ll want your shelves to look full, whereas “when you walk into a store, and there are fewer things on the floor, you tend to think they’re expensive,” according to Paco Underhill, author of “Why We Buy,” in an interview with the New York Times.

  • Value. Tightly packed shelves allow you to showcase more items in less space. But value shoppers want to quickly fill their shopping carts, which may require wider aisles.
  • Exclusivity. Smaller display areas limit the number of items but may provide for more freedom of movement while narrow aisles encourage browsing.

It’s critical to create a shopper-centric yet operation-friendly store layout.

Qualities of a Good Store Layout Plan

Regardless of your business, the qualities of a good store layout remain the same. When considering the plan as a whole, it’s crucial to create a shopper-centric yet operation-friendly approach.

Appropriate Transition Spaces

From seating areas by waiting rooms to speed bumps that slow down busy consumers, the best floor plans provide transition spaces that help customers flow naturally throughout your store.

Accessible to All Customers

Meeting ADA requirements are non-negotiable. This includes not only the width of aisles but also the height of your checkout areas. Even if your retail space is limited, it’s vital to meet these guidelines to avoid issues down the road.

Decompression Zones

Not everyone is in the shopping mindset when they enter your doors. Some may be following a shopping list, while others only want to browse. Avoid shocking customers with too much excitement right when they walk in your store by moving display units back a few feet from the entry.

Room for Growth

Investing a ton of money into set fixtures doesn’t make much sense if you can’t alter your space down the road. Although you may not know how your future store will change, it’s a good idea to build in some flexibility to your planning. The ability to freshen up your space with minimal funding helps you in the long run.

Emphasis on the Checkout

The final checkout space isn’t merely an area to complete a purchase. Instead, well-planned store layouts guide the shopper to the checkout area in a natural manner while also providing opportunities for extra purchases.

Operational Support

Although your focus should be on your customers, if your team can’t replace inventory without closing down an aisle, then you have a problem. Before finalizing your design layout plan, take a walk through from the perspective of an employee. Doing so will help you avoid issues with stocking, moving displays, or creating promotional spaces.

Choosing the best store layout isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan.

5 Store Layout Ideas You Should Consider

Choosing the best store layout isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan. What works for a high-scale boutique department may not be the best choice for your grab-n-go convenience store. Plus, you don’t need to stick to only one type of layout. You can mix and match a couple of different styles to achieve your traffic goals and create a user-friendly space.

1. Freeform Layout

With a freeform store layout, shelves tend to be lower, which helps customers locate products. A freeform plan doesn’t use a set walkway or path around your shop. Instead, consumers are free to move in any number of directions. The design also aims to increase the time spent browsing in a store through well-placed seating areas, which may increase sales.

For example, The Wall Street Journal reports, “If you sit down in an Origins store, you’ll probably spend about 40% more than you would standing up.” Plus, the nature of a freeform layout allows for both creativity and adaptability. You’ll find freeform designs in:

  • Boutique stores
  • Retail clothing shops
  • Upscale businesses

2. Grid Store Layout

Grid floor plans, commonly found in grocery stores, provide a simple structure and familiar-feeling paths. This straight floor layout makes stocking and shopping easy for staff and customers. A grid store plan offers tons of display space, takes full advantage of corners and leaves room for end cap displays. Grid store layouts are used by multiple types of stores, including:

  • Convenience shops
  • Home goods and supply stores

3. Racetrack or Circular Layout

Also called loop floor plans, this circular layout features a central aisle that leads customers through the store. Typically, you’ll notice this layout used in department stores as the winding path takes customers past several departments and increases the chances for a customer to discover an item that wasn’t on their shopping list. However, this plan works well for a variety of businesses, such as:

  • Specialty product retailers
  • Children’s toy and accessory shops
  • Home and kitchen stores

4. Diagonal Floor Plan Layout

The difference between a diagonal and a grid layout is that you get more space in the former. Aisles are wider and shelves are lower as well. This type of design encourages shoppers to test out products or enjoy product demonstrations while providing staff with a clear line of sight. A diagonal store layout is usually found in:

  • Electronic stores
  • Specialty makeup and personal supply boutiques

5. Mixed Store Layout Plan

While each of the above four choices works well for a variety of retail businesses, you can create your plan by combining a couple of store layout ideas. For example, you’ll notice that some grocery stores design separate diagonal areas to attract shoppers to non-food items. Play with your concept and dimensions by testing out different configurations until you find one tailored for your business and customers.

Whether you use grocery store design layout and planning services or do it yourself with free online tools, it’s essential to embrace the qualities of a good store layout. Your design affects profits, sales and customer experience.

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