How does store layout design improve the retail experience?

How do you plan your retail stores to attract customers and increase footfall? Find out how to improve the retail experience.

Ed Smith
Retail Insight by Ed Smith Format Development Manager 02/03/2020
Layout Design

A physical store is a retailers’ most valuable but costly asset in their efforts to win customer love and share of wallet. Therefore creating a great retail experience that affects a customer’s purchasing behaviour and encourages loyalty is the key to success. To do this you need a well considered customer journey and strategic use of space.

Keeping the retail experience fresh and interesting 

Regularly updating the store layout and merchandising plans is essential in keeping the retail experience fresh and interesting. And is important in attracting and retaining customers in the current challenging retail environment. Local market data is also essential to understand the customer base, shopping habits, spend and potential opportunities for new offers relevant to the location. 

Retail formats need to reflect shopper missions 

Store layout and format design is a complex area discussed in detail within merchandising and property teams, one which is hard to put in a box (excuse the pun). Store formats are driven by specific shopper missions and the retailer must create a compelling brand proposition that delivers an experience that resonates with the shopper and helps them achieve their mission.  

Primark Norwich

Base planning on analysis of what's already happening in store

Understanding and analysing the performance of existing layouts using heat mapped data adds valuable insight to the planning process. By overlaying sales data, profit or change in performance on a store plan, as you can within StoreSpace®, you can build a picture of which areas of the store are under or over-performing. Alongside interrogating the data, physical aspects such as lighting, signage and lines of view should also be considered for their impact on the customer flow.

Choosing disruptive layouts or in store harmony

There are multiple types of format within retail layout design and no one solution fits all occasions. Examples include: the Grid Layouts (figure 1 – typical supermarket) and Forced Flow (Ikea style – figure 2) designs. As well as Straight, Diagonal (figure 3), Loop (figure 4), Geometric and a mix of everything in between. 

Some retailers thrive on disruptive layouts which excite the customer changing throughout the year, while other focus on minimising disruption to retain sales and not confuse/frustrate the customer.

store layout 1

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Store layout 2

Planning new, updating or remodelling existing stores 

There are many areas to consider when planning new, updating existing or remodelling store formats. Before starting the layout planning there are many key areas within the store, both sales areas and back of house, which need to be carefully considered, as does the desired customer journey that aligns the shopper mission and relevant and available offers in store.  

With increased popularity of click and collect, according to Essential Retail, 66.8% of digital buyers use it, retailers also need to consider how to make best use of this opportunity to encourage store visits. This includes considering how to ensure internal and external collection points, automated service propositions and alternative delivery options create a great experience for the customer; as well as providing an opportunity for increased revenue for the retailer.

What information should be considered when planning a store?  

There is a vast array of market information that needs to be considered when planning a new layout. This includes: 

  • Store location: out of town / town & city centre / retail park / rural location etc. 
  • Catchment info: Age / Ethnicity / life stage / income / Drive & Walk times 
  • Competition: Existing and potential within the market 
  • Population and Housing growth 
  • Customer numbers & shopping mission 
  • Access and egress routes to store 
  • Visibility from major highways – is there high-level signage to identify the store? 
  • Parking provisions & is parking free or subsidised? 
  • Basket spend: Existing & potential increase 
  • Offers available in store v’s available in the market 
  • Opportunities for additional reasons to visit – i.e concession partners? 

The design knowledge and retail planning skills required to develop a new store, modify an existing, or remodel a store is essential to retailers who are focused on attracting customers, driving footfall and increasing sales.

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