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Retail Store Layout: Tips to Drive More Traffic and Sales

A good retail store layout is more significant than you think. Good retail store layout help you drive more traffic and sales to your store.

Designing or reorganizing your store should not be done without careful thought. A retail store layout is one of the most important keys to success. And if you didn’t spend time carefully planning your store layout and thinking about your customers’ in-store experience, then you’re in trouble. A good store layout will give you the traffic and sales you need.

What is a retail store layout?

A retail store layout, also known as a store design or layout design, is the strategic arrangement of various physical elements within a retail space to optimize the shopping experience, drive sales, and enhance operational efficiency for the business. This store layout involves the organization of physical elements such as products, fixtures, displays, aisles, checkouts, and other store elements that can influence customer perception and behaviors in different ways. Apart from customer behavior, these elements also help maximize the use of available space in a retail store.


Here are some of the key components of a retail store layout:


  • Storefront and Entryway: The area at the entrance of the store is usually designed to attract customers and create a welcoming atmosphere. The storefront and entryway immediately give an impression to the customers.
  • Sales Floor: This is the main area where products are displayed and customers shop. This includes the arrangement of aisles, product displays, and other promotional areas.
  • Checkout Area: This is the section where customers complete their purchases. Efficiently designed checkout areas can reduce wait times and improve the overall shopping experience for customers.
  • Product Placement: Product placement is also a significant part of the retail store layout. Strategic positioning of products can encourage customers to explore different sections of the store. High-margin items are often placed at eye level, while essentials may be placed at the back to draw customers through the store.
  • Shelf Labels: Product placement goes hand in hand with shelf labeling as well. Shelf labels not only attract customers, they also inform them about the product. As a result, shelf labels help customers make wise purchasing decisions. Digital shelf labels are some of the known retail trends among retailers today.
  • Visual Merchandising: The use of displays, lighting, and signage is also part of a store layout. These enhance the appeal of products and create an engaging shopping environment for those trying to browse and shop.
  • Backroom and Storage Areas: Efficiently organized backrooms and storage are also necessary. These are for storing inventory, managing stock, and supporting store operations.
  • Traffic Flow: This mainly refers to the design of the store layout to guide customer movement within the area. This can include wide main aisles, secondary aisles, and focal points to encourage exploration.


Remember that an effective retail store layout considers factors including customer psychology, product placement, and operational efficiency. These all help create an environment that encourages purchases and ensures a positive shopping experience in a retail store. 

Why is a store layout important?

The layout of a store might seem trivial, but it’s actually crucial for businesses in the field of retail. Some might think layouts are simple, but they are able to contribute to the overall success and profitability of a retail business.


Here are the key reasons why a well-designed retail store layout is important:


  • It enhances customer experience - A thoughtfully designed layout ensures that customers can easily navigate the store, find products, and enjoy their time shopping. This can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty towards the retail brand.
  • It increases sales and profitability - Strategic product placement, new digital shelf labels, and the use of promotional areas can influence buying behavior. This encourages customers to buy higher-margin items or even make impulse purchases. According to a study published in the Journal of Marketing, appealing displays can increase sales in a retail store by up to 540%. This is by no means insignificant.
  • It helps optimize space utilization - Efficient use of space allows retailers to display a wider range of products without overcrowding or confusing customers. This maximizes the potential sales per square foot.
  • It guides customer flow in the store - A well-planned layout directs the flow of customer traffic. This ensures that high-demand and high-profit items receive maximum visibility. It can also help in managing crowd control and reducing bottlenecks in daily retail operations.
  • It supports merchandising strategies - Effective layouts complement visual merchandising efforts, such as signage, shelf labels, and lighting. This makes it easier to create attractive displays that highlight key products and promotions. In fact, according to a study on the impact of in-store displays, display allocation optimization across a retail store leads to an average 11.15% increase in-store revenue.
  • It improves operational efficiency - A logical arrangement of aisles, shelves, and service areas can streamline restocking, cleaning, and other operational tasks. This helps reduce labor costs and improve staff efficiency.
  • It enhances the brand image of a retailer - The layout contributes to the overall ambiance and branding of the store. A cohesive, well-designed layout can reinforce brand identity and differentiate the store from other competitors.
  • It encourages longer shopping time - By creating an engaging and comfortable shopping environment, a good layout can encourage customers to spend more time in the store. This increases the likelihood of additional purchases in transactions.
  • It facilitates effective inventory management - Proper layout design can simplify inventory management for the retail store. This makes it easier to monitor stock levels, manage replenishment, and reduce shrinkage.
  • It helps retailers adapt to customer needs - A flexible retail store layout allows retailers to adapt to changing customer preferences, seasonal trends, and new product introductions. This ensures that the store remains relevant and appealing even in modern times or in different communities.

Retail Store Layout Types

There are various types of retail store layout that can be utilized by retail businesses. As a retailer, you need to choose a layout design that works best for the nature of your business, your space, and your audience.


Here are several types of retail store layouts:


Grid Layout

The grid retail store layout features long, straight aisles in a grid pattern. This is a common setup in grocery stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies. This layout maximizes product display, is easy to navigate, and makes efficient use of space. Its disadvantage, however, is that it can feel monotonous and impersonal.


Racetrack (Loop) Layout

The racetrack or loop layout has a main aisle that loops around the store, guiding customers through a predetermined path. Often used in department stores. This layout encourages exploration and maximizes product exposure. The downside is that it can be overwhelming if the path is too long or complicated.


Free-flow Layout

This is an open, flexible layout without rigid aisles, which promotes relaxed browsing. The free-flow retail store layout is common in boutiques and specialty stores. It creates a relaxed atmosphere, which encourages exploration among customers. However, it can also be confusing without clear signage and may result in underutilized space.


Herringbone Layout

The Herringbone layout makes use of diagonal aisles branching off a central aisle. This is suitable for small stores with limited space. Its main advantage is that it can maximize small spaces, and, therefore, create a unique shopping experience. The downside is that it can be challenging to navigate, and may feel cramped if done wrong.


Angular Layout

The Angular layout uses curves and angles to create a sophisticated and high-end feel in a retail space. This is often used in high-end retail stores. Its main advantages are that it’s unique, elegant, and visually appealing. On the contrary, the inefficient use of space may limit product display.


Mixed Layout

The Mixed layout, on the other hand, combines elements of different layouts to suit specific needs. This retail store layout is usually used in large stores or those with diverse product ranges. It is highly adaptable and can cater to different customer behaviors. It’s best to note, however, that it may require careful planning to avoid confusion.

Retail Store Layout Design Tips

Of course, apart from picking a retail store layout, you also need to know how to use and design your space efficiently. All the small details and features need to come together to create a good retail experience.


Take a look at some of the most effective retail store design tips:


Consider customer behavior

Customer behavior is a priority. Analyze traffic patterns with tools like heat maps, customer flow analysis, and surveillance to see where customers spend the most time. You also need to understand the typical path a customer takes from entry to checkout to identify high-impact areas. Of course, regularly gathering feedback to understand customer preferences and pain points is also recommended.


Prioritize product placement

Product placement should not be neglected, no matter your retail store layout. Position high-margin and best-selling products at eye level, where they are most likely to be seen. Create a transition space or a decompression zone just inside the entrance where customers can adjust to the store environment without being bombarded by products. Place small, tempting items near the checkout area to encourage last-minute purchases and impulse buys as well.


Incorporate retail technology such as digital shelf labels

Retail technology will also be beneficial, especially for those who want to modernize the look and feel of the store. Digital shelf labels like the Newton ESL can replace paper labels and automate workflows in the retail business. With Newton ESL, retailers can speed up product price changes, product information dissemination, customer assistance, mobile payments, and more. They can also revamp inventory management and the overall customer experience.


Other retail technology includes digital displays that can showcase promotions, new arrivals, and product information dynamically. Self-service kiosks, on the other hand, can help with price checks, product searches, and other customer service functions.


Ensure clear signage and visual merchandising

Use clear, bold signage to indicate different sections of the store and assist with navigation. Meanwhile, you can also use informational signs to provide details about products, promotions, and pricing to help customers make informed decisions. Use end caps, tables, special fixtures, and even digital labels for visual merchandising. This can help create focal points for new or promotional items.


For visual hierarchy, use color, lighting, and signage to draw attention to key areas and guide customers through the store. Make sure to also update focal points regularly to keep the store feeling fresh and relevant to current trends or holidays.


Use lighting strategically

Provide general illumination that makes the store feel bright and welcoming. Use accent lighting to highlight key products or areas with spotlights to draw attention and create visual interest. Using LED lighting and other energy-efficient options is also recommended, as they can reduce costs and improve sustainability for the retail store.


Optimize checkout areas

Design checkout areas to manage lines efficiently. Position essential services like bagging and customer service close to the checkout to streamline operations. And, of course, ensure that checkout counters are accessible to all customers, including those with disabilities.

The best retail store layout, along with the best layout strategies, can create a more engaging and profitable store. Keep these things in mind as you reorganize your store into a retail store that drives traffic and sales.

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