did you last make a major floor move? And we don’t mean moving product from
over here to over there.
sales floor is a living, breathing entity that should change (frequently) in
order to flourish. If your store is full of the latest product, but your sales
are in a rut it, it could be because your customers are bored. They come to
your store not just to buy – they come for ideas and inspiration. They come to
be entertained, and even when they don’t buy anything, it’s the experience that
brings them back.
The Target Syndrome
about the last time you shopped at a Target store. How much did you spend?
Chances are, even if you went in to buy a bottle of glass cleaner you spent at
least $50 on things you hadn’t planned on purchasing. We call this “The Target
Syndrome” because it doesn’t happen in other big box stores.
you look hard at a Target store you see a largely neutral box that allows the
merchandise to pop. The sales floor serves as a backdrop for powerful signing
and creative displays that encourage you to fill your cart with things you
didn’t realize you needed until you got there. The store layout is designed to
move you easily throughout the store.
Create and Control the Shopper Journey
known for our store makeovers – both physically and virtually – on all sorts of
stores. We begin each one by observing how people shop the sales floor: Where
do they go? Where do they linger? Which areas do they avoid or miss altogether?
Afterwards, we take a hard look at “The Big 3” – the three critical things that
must be assessed before beginning a layout overhaul:
Enablers. These are the important but often overlooked things that
allow customers to shop comfortably. Enablers make shoppers feel welcome: Think
displays and signing that attract attention, carts and baskets that do the
heavy lifting, clear, easy-to-navigate aisles, and strong displays that make
shoppers excited to interact with the merchandise, and most importantly, buy.
Inhibitors. These are the potholes, the shopper-stoppers that disrupt
the buying experience. Good examples include empty fixtures, messy or
unorganized displays, product that’s stacked too high, or displays that are
packed so tightly they turn customers away. The Inhibitors give us a strong
indication of how well the store is run.
Impression Points. These things start outside of your front door – sometimes
even in the parking lot if your store is free-standing or located in a strip
center – and continue throughout the sales floor. The Impression Points create perceptions
customers carry with them as they shop your store. They also contribute to what
they share with friends afterwards. Impression Points create customer Moments
of Truth – aha moments, both good and bad. A typical visit to your store could
result in more than 25 moments of truth.
Your Sales Floor to Sell!
customers should be able to take in your window displays in eight seconds or
less. Your displays should capture the eye and hold attention long enough for
the passer-by to absorb what’s being shown and entice that person to come into
displays with lots of little parts are hard to set and the details are often
missed by shoppers. Instead, create displays using props and larger products
that will be noticed in those critical eight seconds. Add vinyl lettering to
the display that highlights what you sell and consider replacing window
displays with vibrant photo graphics that fill the space when the window
size/shape is less than ideal.
first 10-second impression
just inside the front door and look around. In the first 10 seconds inside your
door shoppers are making value judgements about what they see, thinking “Should
I grab what I need here or head to another store to browse at my leisure?” View
your sales floor from just inside the door each day, checking to ensure you are
giving shoppers the impression you intended.
your store decor
colors and textures you choose for your decor matter. Do all the design
elements you have chosen work together? Does the paint color on the walls work
well with the flooring? Does your signing incorporate your colors and is your
brand well represented on the sales floor?
affects people in different ways; some colors cause people linger, others
to leave. Color is typically categorized in two different ways in in store
décor: primary colors (neutrals) and secondary colors (bold accent colors).
colors are used in 80% of a store’s décor to create a relaxed atmosphere for
customers to shop and to make the merchandise the star. Accent Colors are used in 20% of the store’s
décor to make it pop. Think of accent colors as attention grabbers.
your sight line
you are still at the front of your store check its sight line. You want
shoppers to be able to see into and through the sales floor. Get rid of tall
fixtures near or at the front that block displays housed behind them. A good
rule to follow is to place shorter fixtures near the front and taller fixtures
towards the rear of the store. Remember, the more shoppers see, the more they’ll
5. Work your Decompression Zone
store has an area located just inside the front door that’s known as the
Decompression Zone, the size depends on your store’s square footage. This space
gives shoppers a chance to transition from whatever they were doing outside of
your store to shopping. Understand that the Decompression Zone is a no man’s
land and that shoppers will walk right by anything you place there. It makes
sense to place floor signs, carts, baskets, product displays, etc. just beyond
the Decompression Zone where shoppers are more likely to see them.
the right layout
said that 50 percent of your sales floor is never seen by shoppers so a big
part of your job is to create and control how they move about the sales floor.
This isn’t done by building or moving walls but rather by how you specifically place
are many variations of layouts to choose from but the following the three most
stores use a grid layout where fixtures run parallel to the walls. Shoppers
have been trained to pick up a cart at the front door and walk up and down
every aisle. In a grid layout end features are the stars.
layout: Best Buy, Target and Macy’s rely on a loop layout to move
shoppers through the store. Loop layouts utilize a clearly defined main aisle
that circles through the store like a race track. Loops offer maximum product
exposure because the perimeter walls and gondola valleys are just as important
as the end features. Loop layouts generally work best in a larger footprint.
layout: Boutique and specialty retailers benefit from a free flow
layout. In this layout, customers
shop the sales floor according to how and where you place the fixtures. Free
Flow Layouts are completely flexible and easy to set and easy to change.
7. Watch for desire paths
Have you ever skipped the
sidewalk and cut across the grass because it was a quicker way to get where you
were going? In doing so you created a shortcut called a desire path. You have
them on your sales floor too. Check your carpeting for excess wear in certain
areas or spend time watching how customers shop the store. Once you identify
the shortcuts they prefer, you can place displays directly in the middle of
8. Choose the right fixtures
should add to the ambiance of your sales floor but it should never be the focal
point: Good fixtures let the merchandise stand out. You need basic fixturing
like wall units, gondolas, and shelving to maximize dollars per square foot, plus
specialty fixturing for feature displays such as Speed Bumps. The Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires a
minimum of 36” in between fixtures so all customers can shop comfortably on
your sales floor.
9. Optimize your Lake Front Property
are parts of your sales floor that are more important than others; we call
these areas Lake Front Property. Use this space to feature new, important, and high-margin product.
Merchandise the basics toward the rear of the store so shoppers have to walk
past fashion and seasonal merchandise to get to them. If your store has a
center door, the majority of customers will enter and either look or turn to
the right. Items here should be merchandised with particular care.
10. Cause a pause
are the first displays a shopper sees when entering the store. Located center
stage, speed bumps slow shoppers down and set the tone for what they can expect
to find as they browse the sales floor.
a focal point using small nesting tables that are cross-merchandised with
attractive groupings of related products. Tell a story. Why just sell a handbag
when you can add on a wallet, makeup bag, keychain and a scarf, too?
your Speed Bump displays at least once a week, whether they need it or not.
More often, if you have frequent, repeat customers or the displays sell down or
strategic with merchandise outposts
are at the grocery store a few days before Thanksgiving. As you round the
corner to get to the turkeys you have to pass a series of displays of other things
you’ll need to complete your holiday meal. These displays, called merchandise outposts,
allow you to cross-merchandise throughout your sales floor. They encourage
impulse purchases and are especially effective during the holidays to highlight
immediate gifting needs.
work best when they incorporate height and depth, so add props and risers to
table displays to add interest. Vary the arm heights on apparel fixtures, on
gondola shelving, and wall units. When everything is the same height nothing
the power of 3
human brain is wired to seek out the asymmetrical. That’s why we are drawn to
displays that feature products grouped in odd numbers, especially in groups of
three. These odd numbered groupings force the eye to move around, causing the
shopper to see more of the items on display.
Power of 3 also benefits from the Pyramid Principle. This is where you place the tallest item in
the center and flank it with smaller items. The eye unconsciously seeks the
tallest item first before scanning the smaller items at its side, creating a
pyramid-like step down. Again, shoppers see more of what’s on display.
done by Brigham Young University found displays with signs outperformed
displays without signs by 20 percent. In the battle between sale and non-sale
items, regularly priced merchandise outperformed sale merchandise by 18% when
it was signed and the sale items were not. Bottom line: Displays need to be
should be simple and easily understood at a glance. Think sentences not paragraphs
and follow this rule: Take the average age of your oldest customers and divide
it in half; this is the smallest font size you can use for signing. Do not use
anything smaller than a 30 point font so shoppers who wear reading glasses can
easily read your signs without them.
15. Wrap it up
your store, customers should never stop thinking about merchandise,
even when they are in line to pay for their purchases. Display small, high
profit, impulse items on and around the cash wrap. If you are lucky enough to
have a wall directly behind your counter, use it to tell a merchandise story or
to showcase important products. If your store has checkout lanes, consider
adding a queue with displays of impulse items shoppers have to pass through
while waiting their turn to pay.
16. The 360 Degree Pass-By
you’ve ever witnessed a store associate lead a shopper to a display and say, “I
know it was right here yesterday!” try our 360 Degree Pass-by exercise: a quick daily walk through every inch
of the sales floor.
five minutes it takes to do this exercise, you’ll easily pick up on areas that
need attention, products restocking, displays to face or straighten, and signs
that need to be replaced. Ask every associate to do a daily 360-Degree Pass-By
at the beginning of their shift.
the end goal? To create a layout that entices shoppers to walk your entire
sales floor and to set irresistible displays that sell more products.
Store layout is an art but it’s
also a science. The techniques shared in this article aren’t new, but they have
been utilized by successful retailers for one simple reason: They work.
Before you start to make
changes, take photos of your sales floor. The camera will see things the human
eye misses, and you will have a clearer view of what your sales floor actually
looks like to a shopper. Next, mount a blueprint of your sales
floor to a piece of foam board and add a vellum overlay so you can easily note
planned moves – it’s much easier to play on paper before you start dismantling
displays. Then once you have a plan in place make moves on the floor and sell
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