If you’re new to retail, it may surprise you to hear just how much time and effort retailers put into obtaining a deep understanding of the psychology of consumer behaviour, before they even consider how they are going to lay out their store.

Studies show an intriguing relationship between sales figures and the layout of a retail store. Indeed, an ideal store layout, with an optimised arrangement of product displays, aisles and checkout counters, influences customer behaviour in a subtle, yet powerful, way.

Big retailers have a profound understanding of this correlation and know precisely how to design their stores in order to create tempting displays that keep their customers shopping. And as a start up retailer, there are many principles that can be gleaned from the activities of these big retailers, to help maximise your sales in your own retail outlet.

First impressions

When it comes to creating the ideal store layout, there are many factors to consider, but it’s the first impression that you make on prospective shoppers that really counts. And, in this regard, a dazzling window display and a sensational entrance are two of the most powerful means of piquing your customers’ interest and drawing them into your store.

Create an attention-grabbing window display. To create an intriguing window display, use a single colour theme to attract attention, choosing a colour that aptly reflects your store’s image. When it comes to window displays, space equals luxury and clutter is crass. It’s important to avoid the temptation to display all of your products that you have in store; one artfully displayed item is far more impactful than cramming your entire inventory carelessly into the space.

Create a sensational entrance. Stark, impersonal entrances are imposing and uninviting. An inviting entrance is one that promises customers a wonderful sensory experience. Three of the most effective items that you can place at the entrance of your store are fresh flowers, colourful produce and freshly baked goods. Studies show that these sights and smells stimulate the senses and entice customers to spend more money than they had initially planned.

Go with the flow

While first impressions count, it’s also important to understand how prospective consumers behave as they enter your store. In this regard, studies show that most customers have a predilection for turning right when they enter a store and are subconsciously pre-programmed to walk around a store in an anticlockwise direction.

When positioning merchandise, therefore, placing promotional items and high value items towards the right of the store, near to the entrance, will immediately entice customers and increase your chances of making sales.

Avoid long, uninterrupted aisles

Once your prospective customers are firmly inside your store, it’s imperative to remember that most people have relatively short attention spans when it comes to shopping. When customers see rows and rows of the same items, therefore, they tend to bypass this merchandise, making the assumption that all items in a given area are the same.

By creating stopping points or visual breaks, in the form of signs or displays, you encourage customers to stop and take a look, increasing the odds that they will also reach out for an item from the shelf nearest to the display.

Keep your aisles wide

One thing customers hate more than anything else while shopping is brushing up against other shoppers. No matter how interested they may be in your merchandise, most shoppers will be reluctant to explore your store fully if the aisles are narrow; a feeling that is intensified if they see that other customers are already browsing. Remember, wide aisles are appealing, whereas narrow spaces are claustrophobic and uninviting.

Pay attention to the way that you stock your shelves

It’s subtle, and most shoppers do not even realise it, but the way that your shelves are stocked has a tremendous impact on whether an item will be picked up off the shelf or simply ignored.

The middle shelf, which is usually at eye level, is considered prime position. This is the shelf on which you should place your best selling items, high value merchandise and leading brands. The top shelf is the preserve of less well-known brands and slower selling, but still necessary, items, while the bottom shelf should be reserved for bulky and own brand items, as customers shopping for deals will be actively looking for these products anyway, which means that it’s not worth wasting prime shelf space on these items.

The impulsive close

While every effort should be made to entice your customers into your store and make their shopping experience as enjoyable as possible, one should not ignore the power of impulse. By strategically placing smaller items and merchandise that appeals to children in close proximity to your checkout, you greatly increase the chances of your customers making one final, unintended purchase.

And if you select your products carefully, it’s possible to round off your customers’ shopping experience in an overtly positive way, leaving them with a subconscious sense of satisfaction; a sense that will embed a feeling of loyalty in their psyche and keep them coming back for more.

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