Your store layout is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal for making an incredible impact on your customers—and you don’t have to be an interior designer to achieve the full effect. Initially, learning how to best design your store may seem intimidating. There are always new trends to be followed and conflicting advice to weave through. By carefully committing these basic principles to memory, however, you can ensure that you’ll be able to create a great in-store experience for your customers.
Principle 1: Engage All the Senses
Your store layout and design encompasses all five senses. Don’t just focus on the way the store looks. Instead, pay attention to all the ways that customers interact with your store. The more senses you’re able to impact, the more your customer will appreciate what your store has to offer.
Visual: This is the first sense most people think of when they’re designing the store—but it doesn’t always mean what you think. Start with ensuring that your store appears clean. Up to half of shoppers will choose to avoid a store that appears dirty or dingy. Make surethat your shelves, freestanding store displays and other pieces of furniture are in their best shape. Lighting can also help your cause: bright lights allow your customers higher visibility throughout the store so that they can focus on the items that interest them.
Smell: The sense of smell is one of the most powerful. By tapping into that sense, you can evoke memories or instill a particular feeling in your customers. Ambient scents can also influence purchasing behavior or change the way people think about your brand. On the other hand, if your scent doesn’t match your store—a flowery scent in a men’s clothing store, for example— it may put your customers off.
Hearing: What does it sound like inside your store? Playing music can help mold the atmosphere and mood you’re trying to create. Positive, uplifting songs can bring to mind good memories and encourage customers to connect the same feeling with your store.
Touch: The textures and materials throughout your store matter. Cleanliness comes into play here just as much as it does with the sense of sight: customers don’t appreciate feeling grimy or dirty as they handle your items. You can also evoke the sense of touch by using specific textures and materials on accent walls.
Principle 2: Use Negative Space for Positive Results
Negative space is one of the most important concepts in your store’s design. When you have limited display space, it can be highly tempting to crowd it with as many items as possible. After all, if they aren’t out, they can’t be purchased! High-margin items that aren’t moving the way you expect, however, can be seriously impacted by the use of negative space. Instead of crowding your item, leave plenty of negative space around it. This will cause it to draw the eye and increase your sales of that specific item.
Creativity and unconventional combinations can help slow down shoppers and draw their attention while they’re browsing. Pair items that might not normally be paired or draw connections that will make shoppers stop and think. Focus, however, on leaving plenty of room around the item to show it off to full advantage.
Principle 3: Divide and Conquer
By breaking your store into zones, you can change the way customers browse and encourage them to pay more attention to specific items in each zone. It also allows you to think through each zone individually, focusing on the items that most need to be placed in each one. For a small retail store, try these zones:
- ● Outside the Store: What do customers see when they’re standing outside? This includes the window display as well as the door area. What will draw customers into your store and encourage them to see what you have to offer?
- ● Front of the Store: What’s the first impression that customers receive when they walk in? This first impression is key for impacting their behavior the entire time they’re in the store.
- ● Merchandise: As customers peruse the majority of your merchandise, they should understand the clear layout of the store and the story that you’re telling with your displays.
- ● Changing Rooms: How are your changing rooms set up? Do they encourage customers to feel good about the items they’re trying on and make purchases?
- ● Point of Sale: The retail counter is the best place for impulse purchases, especially when longer lines encourage customers to linger.
- ● Miscellaneous: How are your restrooms set up? A clean restroom that maintains the tone of the rest of your store can make a huge difference in the way customers perceive the store.
- ● Leaving the Store: What’s the last thing customers see and think about as they’re leaving your store? What impression are you leaving them with for next time?
Once you’ve assigned your zones, walk through your store and be sure that each one has the message or feeling that you’d like to convey on that part of the customer journey. What do your store windows say? Make sure that your merchandising and messaging align with what you want the customer to experience at each stage of the journey.
These basic principles are classic. When you allow them to inform your layout and design, you’ll find that you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re keeping up with the latest trends. Instead, you’ll consistently create an experience that is great for your retail customers.
Content and images courtesy of Marvolus