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As a retail small business owner, you likely put a lot of strategy behind the products you sell and how you promote them. As part of that strategy, make sure you are putting thought into your store layout: an effective store layout is essential to driving sales! Thoughtful design not only enhances shoppers' understanding and enjoyment of your offerings, but it also creates a memorable experience that incentivizes customers to purchase more (and come back for repeat visits!)

Read on for our 5 store layout tips that will help your business boost sales:


 Decompression Zone is the first five to 15 feet at your store’s entrance. It’s where shoppers subconsciously acclimate to their new environment, from the mall’s busy common area to the quieter space inside your store. It’s important to recognize that items in this Decompression Zone often go unnoticed, simply because shoppers are still adjusting from one environment to another. As such, avoid placing signage and merchandise (and even salespeople) in this area.

2. DIRECT YOUR CUSTOMERSAnother store layout tactic top retail brands implement? Showcase your offerings and direct your customers to explore your merchandise in a specific order.

Here are 3 popular layouts that can showcase your offerings:

  1. The Grid
    The grid is common in large retail spaces, including supermarkets and drugstores. Racks, shelves, or tables form aisles, which helps to facilitate an organized flow of traffic.

  2. The Loop
    Racks, shelves, or tables create a path around the perimeter of your store, which exposes shoppers to all your merchandise and encourages them to walk a full loop through your space.

  3. Free Flow
    Free Flow encourages shoppers to browse in any direction or order. There are no constraints on the patterns or angles in which racks, shelves, or tables are placed. Free Flow is great for small stores, or those with a limited selection of products, because it maximizes the space between them.

3. AVOID THE "BUTT BRUSH EFFECT"Shoppers typically abandon products or displays when bumped or touched from behind. This phenomenon, known as the

 "Butt Brush Effect" illustrates the value that shoppers place on open spaces. Particularly now with “social distancing” practices top-of-mind, don’t underestimate the importance of open space in your store layout!

Ensure there is a comfortable distance between each of your displays, so customers are less likely to collide, and are not discouraged from browsing.

4. USE "SPEED BUMPS"You can maintain customer engagement by incorporating visual breaks, or “speed bumps” into your displays.

Here are 2 ways you can create meaningful speed bumps:

  1. Employ hands-on product displays.
    The benefits of hands-on product displays are twofold.

    First, shoppers are inclined to pause their browsing, and engage with their senses. This ‘break’ will help them restore the energy and attention necessary to continue exploring your store.

    Second, allowing customers to use your products increases the likelihood that they will make a purchase. No sign, salesperson, or artful display can outweigh the value of first-hand experience.

  2. Make Them “Insta-worthy”
    Instagram has contributed to a rise in experiential retail; consumers are increasingly eager to share their retail experiences on social media.

    By providing customers with photogenic displays (think bold colors and patterns, eye-catching signs or murals, and distinctive furniture or decorations), you can elevate customers’ shopping experience, and entice them to share organic content related to your brand.

    Much like hands-on product displays, “Insta-worthy” speedbumps will motivate your customers to continue shopping.

5. LEVERAGE YOUR CHECKOUT COUNTER27% of shoppers report making additional purchases at checkout counters.

You can encourage impulse purchases by arranging small, simple, inexpensive products on or near your checkout counter.

These transactions require little consideration from buyers, but can account for as much as 7% of annual sales!

IN CONCLUSIONBy providing customers with opportunities to decompress, follow a spacious and intuitive ‘path,’ engage with “speed bumps,” and impulse-buy, you can maximize their in-store experiences, and drive sales.