The layout of your store plays an essential role in how your customers find their way around. It directly influences the shopping experience and your sales. That's why it's critical you get it right. Get it wrong, and you have a store that’s not only congested and confusing but one that shoppers won't want to visit often.
It also speaks to the importance of getting your customer flow right. Customer or shopper flow is straightforward in its explanation. Linked to floor planning, it refers to the movement or path of consumers through and around your store. As we noted, experience is a factor in getting it right, and you can customise how they navigate your store.
So what can you do to improve in-store customer flow so that it can lead to increased sales? Below, we focus on a few strategies you can attempt in your store.
Place your high-traffic products at the back of your store
Placing frequently shopped products near (or at) the back of your store is a tried and tested strategy to increase shopper basket sizes. That’s because you direct shoppers past many other categories and products that might not have seen that traffic.
By providing more exposure to less frequently purchased items, you also open up the opportunity to increase your sales.
For example, placing popular products like bread and milk at the back of your store leads shoppers past other products they might not have seen. However, as soon as they see these products, they realise they need them and add them to their basket.
They could be hosting a dinner party that weekend, and instead of returning to shop specifically for those items they need, they can get them all at once. You have just saved your customers a trip and made their life easier.
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Another benefit of placing your popular products near the back is that customers won’t only shop in one area of your shop.
Imagine putting all of your popular products close to the entrance. Yes, it’s convenient. However, it will mean many customers coming in, grabbing those items, paying and leaving. They have no incentive to shop in any other categories.
Also, there will be more shoppers in one or two areas of your store, which can lead to congestion. It could even lead to many shoppers walking in, seeing the store is too crowded and then walking out without buying anything.
Ensure your category flow is logical and easy to follow
The layout or flow of your store relies as much on your floor plan as it does on how you set out your categories. How you present these groupings in-store can also mean the difference between a good or bad shopping experience.
We recommend you ensure your category flow makes logical sense to your customers. There are plenty of reasons why that makes sense.
For one, your customers can navigate with ease through your store.
For example, you could place other breakfast options in the same aisle as your cereals. That could include jams and spreads, sugars and sweeteners and any other products your customers would associate with breakfast.
Because you're showing them more products, it can also lead them to spend more time in your store, which means more sales for you. After all, who wouldn't want to shop in a store where you could find everything easily?
The converse is also true. Imagine trying to shop in a store where a pool cleaning category flows into a pet toys category. Or where your dairy products sit alongside household cleaning items. You might see many shoppers confused, trying to guess where a product is instead of walking purposefully to the aisles because they know where to go.
A further benefit to following a logical category flow is its direct influence on how shoppers view your store brand. As they become familiar with your layout, it's easier to shop in your store, which means customers will want to return.
Furthermore, it also helps you avoid contamination of products if your store has more than one department.
Let's say, for example, you sell clothing and food. You can place food at the back of your store and your clothes section near the front. It helps that shoppers must walk past this section before buying their groceries, which could lead to increased dwell time and sales.
Create hot spots in your store
In a retail store, hotspots are groupings of frequently purchased products or promotional areas. To maximise your popular products, you can distribute them across your store to create a logical flow and help direct shoppers around.
You can also create hotspots by cross-merchandising products that shoppers frequently use together.
For example, you could include clip strips with sugar sachets in your tea and coffee aisle. If you have a promotion on coffee, you could place them at the end where you stock biscuits.
Spreading your best-selling products across your store is one of the best ways to increase your sales and improve the shopping experience. Talk to us today to hear how DotActiv’s floor space optimization service can help you.
Your known value items (KVIs) will also deliver good sales, so it's also worth placing them in your promotional areas to create a hotspot. Another strategy is to merchandise products that do not have a lot of sales nearby or around your hotspots. In doing so, you can create awareness for those products and increase impulse purchases.
If you are wondering how many hotspots you should have in your store, that depends. If you have a large store, you could look to add one on each of your gondola ends. If you have a smaller store, you must be mindful to avoid cluttering your space. It would be better to focus on less than a handful.
You could also place a hotspot at your till point or towards the back of your store to expose your shoppers to more of your merchandise.
Use your store fixtures strategically
When used strategically, your retail fixtures can help improve customer flow in-store. How?
In your store, it helps to create a pathway through your store that allows for easier shopping. The type of layout you choose can depend on the products you sell and how you want to direct your customers from category to category. Do you want to push them down a specific path? Or do you want to let them roam through your store?
The most common types are grid, free-flow, loop, and herringbone.
When your customers enter your store, it also helps to create an open, inviting space. That means not placing your fixtures in their way or next to the door because that can cause congestion. We mentioned this earlier. Placing shelves near the front encourages customers to stop and shop. However, it can give others the impression that your store is overcrowded.
The height of your fixture can also play a role in helping with the traffic through your store. Retail fixtures under eye level are perfect since they can help your customers to feel overwhelmed or hindered.
In reality, there are cases where you can lower your shelving for specific categories so that your customers can reach these items. You can also switch between higher and lower shelving units so your customers can navigate your store and find what they want.
You can also add branding, clip strips and shelf talkers to your shelves and fixtures. Regardless of which option you choose - you could include all - you can use them to educate your customers about products.
Use signage to help customers navigate your store
The signage you use in your store plays a role in helping your customers navigate your store. Here, we're referring to all types of signage, from your information boards (aisle indicators) hanging above aisles to the promotional stands directing your customers where to go.
Both can lead to a positive shopping experience and reduce any frustration. After all, how often have you walked into an unfamiliar grocery store and looked at the information on the aisle indicators to see where you need to go?
Of course, you must ensure that the information on the hanging board is the same as what shoppers will find in the aisle. That is another topic which we go into now. Suffice it to say; using signage correctly can turn a frustrating shopping experience into a pleasant one.
You can’t disregard the importance of optimising your retail floor space. If you’re serious about maximising the selling potential of your floor space, go ahead and book a meeting with us. We don’t sell - we provide personalised retail advice tailored to your unique needs and circumstances.
It can also help to prevent congestion since shoppers will know where to go instead of standing in one spot trying to decide. It's also where your fixtures come into play again. Your signage and fixtures can work together to direct your customers down a specific path as soon as they enter your store.
For example, if you look at your data and notice that most shoppers all have one or two similar items in their basket, you could direct them to that aisle. Doing so kickstarts their shop. Then, along the way, and using your logical category flow, you can point them down different paths until they complete their shopping experience.
As mentioned above, it is evident how essential a good customer flow is for your store and overall business. Following a few guidelines and strategies can help improve the shopping experience while you benefit from the additional sales.
Are you looking for a category management solution that’ll empower you to build data-driven floor plans that optimise your retail space and reduce floor congestion during peak trading hours? Or perhaps you need category management services that'll deliver strategic floor plans that consider your unique retail environment.
Book a complimentary consultation with a DotActiv expert here today and we’ll provide expert advice tailored to your unique circumstances.