Getting customers to a shop is the job of advertising and market research. Once they've arrived at the door, the layout of the shop becomes one of the most important elements in improving the shopping experience for the customer. While each shop is unique, there are a number of elements and suggestions that can be applied by nearly every establishment to enhance their customers' convenience, and make them more likely to buy.
Navigation and Shopping Patterns
According to the Retail Customer Experience online newsletter, customers in North America enter a shop and turn to the right, making their way counterclockwise through the store. The Profitable Times newsletter claims that the front 1/3 of the store receives a disproportionate amount of traffic and sales. Aisles and walkways should be wide enough to accommodate reasonable foot traffic, and carts, if the shop uses them. Customer service and checkout counters should be located within the visual field of shoppers entering and exiting the store. The overall layout should allow customers to navigate the aisles with ease, placing the services they want and need most in accessible locations, while drawing them into the interior of the store.
Eye-Level Visual Appeal
Complementary colour schemes for merchandise displays,consistent signage lettering and lighting can create an integrated shopping environment, according to the Retail Customer Experience online newsletter. Uncluttered lines of sight can give the store a clean appearance plus make it easier to deter shoplifters. The Profitable Times advises shopkeepers to graduate the height of signage so that they become higher from front to back and from the centre off to the sides. The back walls should be bright, with bold, simple displays.
Grocery stores have followed the principle of placing the most profitable items at eye level and within easy reach of shoppers for decades. Profitable Times newsletter suggests modifying this principle by placing slow-selling items in prominent displays to stimulate sales. The Retail Customer Experience online newsletter advises store owners to resist the temptation to stock merchandise to the ceiling, which may overwhelm the customer. A better strategy is to display sufficient merchandise to let the customer know what is in stock, like the layout of the Threadless store featured in T-shirt magazine online.
Stew Leonard's grocery store, featured in Shopper Culture online, uses occasion-based merchandising, rather than category based merchandising, to stock the store. Occasion-based merchandising places items that would be used together in close proximity, to inspire the customer to purchase them all at the same time. Other retailers can adapt this idea, placing primary items and accessories in the same area of the store, such as jeans and belts.
The Retail Customer Experience online newsletter cautions store owners not to allow their store displays to become dated. Shopkeepers should follow the lead of magazines and other media to maintain a pulse on trends to keep their stores up-to-date. The Retail Customer Experience online website uses the example of the Cirque du Soleil retail stores to illustrate the principle that layout and store design should conform to an overall theme related to the merchandise whenever possible. Profitable Times newsletter reminds shopkeepers that background music that relates to the merchandise and appeals to the customer can enhance the ambience of the store.