Store Layouts and How They Drive Sales

Retail Floor Plans 101

well-planned retail store layout allows a retailer to maximize the sales for each square foot of their allocated selling space. This is done by featuring merchandise in an efficient way that encourages customers to consider making additional purchases while they browse.

The draft of a store layout generally shows the size and location of each department, any permanent structures, fixture locations, and customer traffic patterns.

Each floor plan and store layout will depend on the type of products sold, the building location, and how much the business can afford to put into the overall store design.

A solid floor plan is the perfect balance of ultimate customer experience and maximized revenue per square foot. Many retailers miss this point. They simply focus on revenue and forget customer experience. Retailers who deliver on experience have higher revenues than those that don't—even if the square footage is comparatively smaller. 

For example, some retailers "crowd" the sales floor with lots of merchandise. While this increases selection, it also decreases customer traffic flow space. Many customers are turned off by crowded stores. They prefer cleaner, wider aisles that reduce the stress of shopping. Department stores that adopt the approach of using wider aisles include Macy's and Belk. 

Some customers prefer to "bargain hunt" in off-price stores and do not concern themselves about certain aesthetics. In these stores, a bit of organized clutter actually adds to the "deal" atmosphere. The focus on offering lower-cost merchandise to customers in this way creates a sense of immediacy for the deals. This is a strategy found at such stores as TJ Maxx or Ross Stores. 

Whatever your store type, make sure you consider the customer experience in the floor plan. What may make for the most efficient space planning might make for the worst customer experience. A home improvement store, for example, wanted to redesign its space to better showcase its merchandise. Despite having an in-demand selection of goods the store also suffered from terrible merchandising. The tiles section was on one side of the store but the tools and supplies needed for the tile installation were at the opposite end of the store.

This layout created more problems than it solved. It reduced opportunities for impulse purchases by distancing related merchandise from each other. Consumers are more likely to add on purchases by filling their baskets with goods grouped near the main item they need. A layout can create frustration if it forces customers to walk from one side of the store to the other to find related products. 

Adopting and adapting are a few basic store layouts can unlock unrealized sales potential.

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Straight Floor Plan

Straight Floor Plan.  Mathew Hudson

The straight floor plan is an excellent store layout for most any type of retail store. It makes use of the walls and fixtures to create small spaces within the retail store. The straight floor plan is one of the most economical store designs.

The downside to this plan is the sight lines in the store. Depending on the front entrance, it may be difficult for a customer to see the variety of merchandise you have. Customers might not quickly find the products they want to purchase. 

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Diagonal Floor Plan

Diagonal Floor Plan.   Mathew Hudson

The diagonal floor plan is a good store layout for self-service types of retail locations. It offers excellent visibility for cashiers and customers. The diagonal floor plan invites movement and traffic flow to the retail store.

This plan is more "customer friendly." Unlike a straight plan, which can feel like a maze, this floor plan offers the customer a more open traffic pattern.

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Angular Floor Plan

Angular Floor Plan.   Mathew Hudson

The angular floor plan is ideal for high-end specialty stores. The curves and angles of fixtures and walls makes for a more expensive store design. However, the soft angles create better traffic flow throughout the retail store.

This design has the lowest amount of available display space, so it is best for specialty stores who display edited inventories versus large selections. 

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Geometric Floor Plan

Geometric Floor Plan.   Mathew Hudson

The geometric floor plan is a suitable store design for clothing and apparel shops. It uses racks and fixtures to create an interesting and out-of-the-ordinary type of store design without a high cost.

This plan makes a statement about the products the store sells and the customers it wants to attract. So make that statement speaks to the message you want to associate with your brand. 

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Mixed Floor Plan

Mixed Floor Plan.   Mathew Hudson

As you might have guessed, the mixed floor plan incorporates the straight, diagonal and angular floor plans to create the most functional store design. The layout moves traffic towards the walls and back of the store. 

It is a solid layout for most any type of retailer. Some of the most-admired examples of customer experience can be attributed to stores that have multiple shapes, elevations, and designs. This appeals to a larger array of customers.