How to Leverage Your Retail Store Layout to Boost Sales

Think about the times you walked into a store without a particular item in mind--times when you knew you wanted to shop, but weren't looking for anything specific. How were you able to locate the right products? Odds are that the store layout played a big part in your purchase.

According to research, up to 70 percent of consumers wait until they've entered a retail store to make their purchasing decisions, and nearly one-third of customers purchase items from categories they didn't intend to buy from in the first place.

To ensure those shoppers make transactions before leaving, you need to get the most out of your retail store design. Below are three ways to accomplish this.

1. Keep Your Store Clean

Let's start off with a piece of advice that is simple yet incredibly effective: regardless of what kind of retail store layout you are responsible for, it is important to keep it clean and tidy. We've been told how vital cleanliness is from a very young age, and today we have statistics to back up this sentiment. Recent data proves quantifiably that customers care about your store's appearance.

In fact, more than half of all consumers surveyed by Morpace said they have avoided shopping at businesses because they looked dirty from the outside, and more than two-thirds said they have avoided stores altogether based on exterior appearance. This is not surprising given the fact that a whopping 95 percent of those surveyed said that how a store looks from the outside is "important in their selection of a place to shop."

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And cleanliness remains important once people step inside your store. To understand how crucial this is, consider a Retail Perceptions report on the in-store experience, which surveyed a wide range of consumers from various geographies, demographics, and income levels.

In this survey, people were asked to rank four factors of the in-store shopping experience: a positive checkout experience, the ability to give feedback, a clean store, and friendly and knowledgeable store associates. Understandably, "a clean store" was the highest priority.

Those shoppers are looking for stores that meet the following criteria:

Keeping your store clean can take a lot of time-especially if you have a lot of square footage. Nonetheless, it is an easy way to make people feel comfortable walking through your retail store layout.

2. Make Sure There's Enough Space to Shop Comfortably

This can be difficult to achieve if you are working with a small retail layout design, but it is crucial to make sure that shoppers are able to browse your store comfortably at all times.

It can be distressing (and even overwhelming) to shop in a space that is cramped and tightly packed with different products, shelves, racks, signs, etc. And, naturally, it is uncomfortable to walk around and examine products when other customers are invading your personal space.

In his book Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, Paco Underhill discusses what he calls the "butt-brush effect," which greatly impacted the retail store layouts Underhill and his team studied. Per Underhill, the butt-brush effect is when a shopper abandons an item he or she was looking at after being bumped by another person once or twice.

"While reviewing the tape to study how shoppers negotiated the doorway during busy times, we began to notice something weird about the tie rack," Underhill wrote about one particularly interesting store. "Shoppers would approach it, stop and shop until they were bumped once or twice by people heading into or out of the store. After a few such jostles, most of the shoppers would move out of the way, abandoning their search for neckwear.

"We watched this over and over until it seemed clear that shoppers--women especially, though it was also true of men to a lesser extent--don't like being brushed or touched from behind. They'll even move away from merchandise they're interested in to avoid it."

When creating your retail store layout, take the butt-brush effect into account. And when your shop is experiencing a lot of foot traffic, look out for any congestion--and adjust accordingly.

3. Streamline the Checkout Process

No matter how well your retail store layout is designed, it will feel "off" to your customers if your space gets too cluttered with people. And one of the worst ways your store can get overcrowded is to keep people waiting in checkout lines.

The good news is that there are effective ways to eliminate long waits and cut down on walkaways. This is done by empowering your customers to move about freely and wait how and where they want to purchase their items.

With the QLess queue management system for retail, your customers are provided with a personal wait time forecast. By having timely updates and notifications, customers feel informed as they move to the front of the line. And thanks to accurate wait times, they can continue to browse for more items, rather than waiting in line.

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Our queue management software shortens wait times up to 97 percent and can cut down walkaways up to 75 percent. Together, those two changes can quickly optimize your retail store layout-and have a demonstrable impact on your overall revenue.

Our software also comes with crucial analytics that can help you sharpen your business strategy. By harnessing powerful data and real-time reports, you can improve your decision-making and anticipate customer flow with more precision.

Additionally, your consumers will feel better about their shopping experience. The majority of businesses that implement our queue management software have seen a 100 percent improvement in customer satisfaction. That, of course, will grow customer loyalty, improve business reviews, and lead to word-of-mouth recommendations.