The Art of the Layout:
Everything You Need to Know About the Science of Store Design
by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender
See Kizer & Bender live and in person at the 2008 VDTA/SDTA Las Vegas Convention
Store planning and design has consistently been at the top of our list of things retailers need to do well in order to have a successful store. Merchandise will sell itself when a store’s design is good, but when it’s not, even the best product can sit on your shelves gathering dust. The purpose of your store’s design is not merely to look pretty. Its purpose is to create an environment that attracts customers, entices them to spend time in the store, and encourage them to purchase impulsively while they are there. It’s a tall order, but it’s easier than you might think. That’s because much of store planning is time honored science. Professional store planners know that every single square foot of your sales floor has a specific job to do; you will too after reading this article. So whether you are opening a brand new store or perking up your existing one, these ideas will keep you on the right track:
Inside the Front Door
There are two kinds of colors used in store décor: Primary Colors (neutrals) and Secondary Colors (bold accent colors). Primary colors are used in 80 percent of the store’s décor to create a relaxed atmosphere for customers to shop. Accent colors are used in 20 percent of the store’s décor to make it pop. Think of accent colors as attention grabbers.
Once, after a presentation on store design, a retailer approached us and asked if we’d take a look at photos of his newly remodeled store. His newly remodeled RED store. Instead of a store planner, he had hired an interior designer with wild ideas. The floors were shiny red, the fixtures were red, the walls were red, the checkout counters were red -- you get the picture. Red is a dominate color, and exposure to that much color makes most people antsy. It’s a great accent color because it stimulates shoppers to make quick decisions, but as a primary color it’s a bust. So we asked the retailer to place an associate at the front of his store for two weeks to clock how long customers stayed in the store. Just as we suspected, customers didn’t stay in the store longer than they had to, and the retailer had to re-do his entire store to get sales back on track.
Which Store Layout is Right for Your Store?
In a Grid Layout, fixtures run parallel to the walls, so customers typically grab a shopping cart, start in a front corner and walk each and every aisle. Grid layouts are easy to shop because they offer clean sight lines throughout the entire store. Another plus: Grids allow for maximum End Feature exposure. Grid layouts can be found in grocery stores, but you will also find them utilized in many Big Box stores.
A Loop Layout offers a clearly defined main aisle that circles through the store like a race track. Fixture placement in a Loop layout differs in different parts of the store: The perimeter fixtures run perpendicular to the wall, and the fixtures in the center of the loop run parallel to the side walls. In a Loop layout shoppers typically flow to the right and move up and down the aisles in a serpentine manner. Loop layouts offer maximum product exposure because the perimeter walls are just as important as the end features -- the layout leads customers to the wall each time they go down an aisle. Target and Best Buy are two good examples of stores that utilize a Loop layout.
Specialty retailers typically use a Free Flow Layout because it allows for the most creativity. In a Free Flow layout, there are no set aisles or straight lines. Instead fixturing is placed at angles, encouraging shoppers to easily move throughout the store, where they will find new merchandise displays at every turn. This layout offers many opportunities to romance the merchandise and create lifestyle display vignettes.
If you already have a blueprint of your store then you are ahead of the game. A blueprint will help you determine choice of layout and appropriate locations for merchandise departments. If you don’t have one, don’t worry! Get a large piece of paper and draw a schematic of your own. Measure both the sales floor and non-selling areas, carefully noting all the nuances including columns, doors, bathrooms, service areas, etc. Next, mount your schematic to a piece of foam core board, and overlay it with transparent tissue paper. Now, you will be able to merchandise and re-merchandise your sales floor on paper before you ever touch a fixture!
A word about store fixturing
Fixture placement will depend upon your choice of layout. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires a minimum of 3’6” in-between fixtures. (Visit the ADA Web site at http://www.ada.gov for more information.) 3’6” just makes sense; anything smaller and shoppers will be uncomfortable. Can you easily maneuver about your sales floor? Can you do it with a wheel chair, stroller, or motorized scooter? Can two or more customers comfortably look at the same product? If customers do not have enough room to shop, they can’t buy.
Lake Front Property
The Decompression Zone
Attention ! Right Turn Ahead!
And On Your Right: A Power Wall
The Front Right is not the Best Place for the Checkout Counter
And your checkout counter should be designed to sell! Embrace these five rules: 1. Give shoppers enough space to comfortably complete their transaction. This means room for a female shopper to place both her handbag and her purchase on the counter. 2. Create an interesting display of product behind the checkout counter. You want customers to continue shopping, even while waiting to pay for their purchases; 3. Make sure that your policy signing is friendly, inviting, polite and positive -- nuke the “NO! NO! NO’s!”; 4. Load up the checkout counter with “I have to have this!” impulse items and “shut-up” toys as in “Mommy, can I have a ball?” “No.”, Mommy, can I have a ball?” “No.” “Mommy, can I have a ball?” “SHUT UP! WHAT COLOR DO YOU WANT!?”; and 5. Stock items customers need, but frequently forget, under the checkout counters. Then when cashiers ask, “Did you find everything you were looking for today?” and the customer says “No! I forgot _____ I’ll get it next time.” The cashier can simply reach under the counter and grab it -- instant add-on sale!
After you read this article, take a trip to your local mall and study the bones of each store. You will see how these universal store planning truths have been tweaked for each application. And they will work in your store as well.
About Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender
You can find out more about Kizer & Bender on their fun and informative Web site: www.KIZERandBENDER.com
Reprinted from Floor Care Professional, August 2007