Friday, April 23, 2010

Everything you ever wanted to know about making the perfect store layout, but where to afraid to ask

The layout of any store is critical to obtain profitability. The main goal of layout planning is to handle customer flow, goods flow and to create as many hot spots as possible in order to control the focus of the customer around the store. A good layout ensures that the customer gets in contact with as much of the range as possible during the visit, in order to make certain that any craving could be satisfied. The fact that the customer actually get an overview of the entire offer and stays as long as possible in the store is crucial in order to obtain a high turnover from each customer. It seems logic to presume that if we show as much as possible, something will fit the need or lust of any visitor. You can only by what you see.

(Black = Customer flow, Red = Hot spots, Blue = Decompression zone)

Basically, there are to separate types of layouts, a controlled layout and freeflow. In the latter, no attempt is made to stear the customers path around the store.

Here are the laws of layout planning:

1. The goal is to, in a natural way, lead the visitor so that the entire sales area is covered during the tour around the store. In larger stores the main aisle should be stretched as close to the outer walls as it takes to get an overview of the departments presented on the wall.

2. Secondary aisle should make it possible to enter the departments along the main aisle thus making the range easy accessible.

3. Special consideration should be taken in order to get traffic into the corners which often are overlooked in the planning phase, making them unefficient sales space.

4. The mail aisle should not be to straight. As humans have eyes attached to the front of the head, we look forward if nothing attracts our attention. This means that we sometimes need to break the straightness which can be done in a number of ways. Creating roundabouts by putting merchandise in the center of the mail aisle, and thereby force the visitor to slow down and change direction is one way and making the main isle turn by predetermined intervals is another way. Placing mirrors is another way of controlling customers speed, as humans are selfloving creatures, and bound to slow down for a better look at oneself.

5. The layout should present the departments in a logical order. The most important and brand critical range should be placed as to create a first impression.
6. Aside from customer flow, goods flow before and during opening hour must be planned for.

7. At turns and "hooks" in the aisle, consideration should be taken how to make best use of the hot spots created and that customers have in front before they turn. This is often the best selling areas of the store.

8. Some stores have many seasons in their commercial calendar. Flexibility and activitydriven range must be taken into the equation. A solution could be a permanent part of the store and some flexible areas in order to make room for seasonal changers.
9. Customers tend walk to the right when you walk into a store. Then we turn to the left and way back to the counters. Along the entire customer flow there shoul be activitity areas and any change in the directions of the customer flow should be used with smartness.

10. The earlier in the store the visitor is converted into a customer the more effective will the entire store be. A good offer that fits a lot of the visitors needs is a simple tool to get it done. Inside the doors of any store there are a "decompression zone" were visitors in their minds still are on their way into the store, with the same pace as outside the store and were the customer is trying to orientate. This zone should be made as small as possible. A good offer is a good and easy way of doing this.

11. A possibility to sit down is a good investment in order to release the stress of followers not beeing a part of the actual buying process. It takes the pressure down and leave the buyer at peace.

12. Make the walls accessible and interesting so that there are a reason to take a step of from the aisle and move into the department.o