When you start contemplating making changes to your store there are some store layout basics that you should consider. I like to start by doing enough research to know what’s working well with the current layout and what isn’t. How are people moving through the store? What are elements about your current design that you should try to save or replicate in another section of your store in the new layout?
Here are some store layout basics that you should consider: There has been research, much of it by Paco Underhill and his company Envirosell, completed that gives us some very basics principles that we should adhere to. For example there should be an area inside the front door that is void of product display. This area of perhaps 12 or 14 feet square has been termed the “decompression zone”. The decompression zone is an area that allows your customers to enter your store and adjust to your environment. The decompression zone, when done right, communicates a “welcome” to your patrons and allows them to make their first judgments of your retail world. Their first judgments are often the ones that stick so this area of adjustment is very important.
Another phenomenon Underhill has observed is what he has named the “invariant right”. This refers to the fact that when given the opportunity people prefer to, and most often do, move to the right after entering a store. When I am designing a store I always try to encourage people to move in the direction that they are most comfortable. By adhering to this principle whenever possible I notice that the store “feels” better. When a store “feels” better it operates at a higher level and produces better sales and additional profits.When I am designing a floor plan a couple of additional store layout basics that I consider are balance and symmetry. Most people react positively to both balance and symmetry. I have tried experiments in which I presented different designs for the same store, some were balanced some were not, some were symmetrical and others weren’t. As retailers studied the various plans I was struck by how often they preferred balance and symmetry though we had not discussed those issues at all. I believe that preference carries through to the shopping experience. I also know that most shoppers would be unaware of the subtle differences and would probably just say the store “felt” better. After all is said and done, the shopping war is one by stores that “feel better” to their patrons.
There is much information on store design in our book Discovery-Based Retail.