Store Layout and Traffic Flow

It is very important that the store's layout and overall presentation work harmoniously together to attract customers to the store and encourage them to buy. Layout and presentation need to promote the store image and support the store's market position in a consistent manner.

In organising store layout, the manager is responsible for:

Store layout is not established and then forgotten about. Layout needs to be assessed, monitored and adjusted to ensure that the store works as efficiently as possible. As the manager, you will need to regularly carry out layout assessment.

Product placement also needs to be assessed regularly. This assessment should take into account:
  • commitments to manufacturers;
  • sales figures for individual products;
  • promotions; and
  • seasonal considerations.

Develop a Checklist

Allocation of store space Store managers generally expend a great deal of time, thought and money designing and implementing a workable and effective store layout. The planning begins with allocating floor space based on selling area and/or the area where merchandise is displayed. From available space, room must also be made for employees to rest, customers to walk, sit and try on clothes and for other activities such as storing stock. Some of the space allocations are beyond the control of the manager e.g.the size of the storeroom or break room.

As the manager, you will need to regularly evaluate the allocation of space that you do have control over. This is an important management planning task.

Floor space must be allocated in a way that is consistent with the stores image and merchandising objectives.

Traffic flow

Traffic flow is the movement of customers through the store. It is a critical aspect of store layout due to the impact that it can have on the customer both practically and psychologically.

A well-designed layout not only influences the movement of customers through the store, it can also encourage certain shopping behaviours. For example, a supermarket may deliberately make the aisles small and crowded to create a feeling of economy and order. This encourages the customers to move consistently through the store in an ordered pattern. It may also imply that the store sells many more lines of product than they actually do. In comparison, the layout in a gift shop may appear to be haphazard. This doesn't mean that the design has not been well-planned. The intention may be to encourage people to take their time browsing through the store.

Types of traffic flow

Check Your Store Procedures There are two basic traffic-flow alternatives available to the retailer:
  • the grid pattern which is characterised by its structured layout design; and
  • the free flow pattern which is less formal in its appearance.

A highly structured format that maximises the available display space. The grid pattern uses the length and width of the traffic area to create clear aisles and facilitate self-serve shopping.

An informal format that uses a variety of fixtures to create a relaxed, unbalanced floor layout. While the free flow layout often sacrifices selling space to create atmosphere, it does encourage browsing and unplanned purchases.

The combination pattern incorporates both grid and free flow formats to create atmosphere suited to the style of products and shopping behaviour involved.

Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages. While the grid uses the available space efficiently, it generally does not encourage browsing. The reverse is generally true of the free flow pattern. To decide on the most appropriate method for your store you must first study the traffic flow and observe how customers move through the store. Using this as a guide, develop the layout that suits the store image you are working to create and the type of product you are selling.

The shopping behaviour associated with the type of products you are selling should also be considered. For example, if you were selling high-priced luxury goods, you would strive to encourage browsing behaviour from the customers.

Activity Developing a store layout