Choosing the correct floor plan for your store is far more significant than you may think. That’s because of this simple fact: it forms part of the foundation on which your store is built. Therefore, get your floor planning wrong, and it’ll hamper every decision you make thereafter.
Naturally, mistakes happen. And we’ve written about all sorts, particularly within the retail industry. There are those blunders around product layout that are easy to make as well as the errors around retail shelving. Then there are the retail branding mistakes that are unforgivable and a few overlooked merchandising basics that can cost your store a small fortune.
But, we haven’t yet touched on those mistakes around the creation of your floor plan. Since these mistakes can wreck your chance at retail success, it’s crucial to avoid them. If you’ve already made any of the below errors, not all is lost.
You still have an opportunity to correct your mistakes before they cause any more damage.
Floor planning mistake: Not using data to build your floor plan
The first mistake when it comes to building your floor plan - and arguably the most significant - is that you don’t use retail data. If you’ve read other articles on this blog, you’ll know that we’ve made mention of the importance of retail data. In fact, for DotActiv, data is our lifeblood.
And there are many good reasons for that.
For one, retail data can inform you of which products are selling the best and which aren’t selling at all. With that information, you can then decide which categories deserve the most space and which products you should stock less of or even derange. Should you not use data, at best, you’ll be guessing when it comes to giving your products space on your shelf.
As a side note, you can’t use any old retail data to build your floor plan. The data you’d need revolves specifically around your Product, Period, Fact and Market. On top of that, you need to know the physical size of your store as well as the size of your fixtures. Knowing this will allow you to determine your store layout as well as your maximum selling space.
On the other hand, if you don’t use data to build your floor plan, you stand a good chance of ending up with a store that doesn’t reflect the true behaviour of your customers and how they shop. We’ll go into this in more depth when we tackle the next big floor planning mistake. For now, its worth mentioning that this could result in you placing in-demand products in the wrong sections of your store. Not only will that frustrate your shoppers, but you’ll more than likely create a store with high congestion in one area and no foot traffic at all in another.
By using retail data, though, you can avoid this perception altogether by ensuring that your most in-demand categories are spread out evenly throughout your store.
Floor planning mistake: Not thinking about how your customers shop your store
When it comes to building a floor plan, it’s not only about the goals you want to achieve as a store. In that sense, using retail data alone won’t necessarily result in success. It’s just as vital for you to know and understand your customers.
Here’s why: By understanding your customers and what they buy - even how they shop your store - you can build a floor plan that meets their expectations. That means less frustration or confusion on their part while shopping your store, and more sales for you.
Let’s look at an example to illustrate our point.
Imagine your average customer walks into your store looking for a particular basket of products. However, upon entering, they find that the first product they’re looking for isn’t where they expected. Neither is the next product on their shopping list. The longer they shop, the more they realise that all of the products aren't where they expected to find them.
By confusing your customers with an illogical layout, they are less likely to return to your store, much less purchase what they came in for in the first place. On top of that, your store will look a mess since there is no plan when it comes to placing your products in-store. You also stand a good chance at giving items more shelf space than they really deserve.
This is where a logical product flow can help you.
As for any warning signs to look out for, here’s one. If you notice that there is a decline in foot traffic around a particular product that you know is in-demand, you need to reconsider your floor plan. Of course, there could be a number of reasons why foot traffic has dropped. But one reason could be that your store is not customer friendly.
A drop in sales or units sold for a popular product could also be an indicator that you need to rearrange your store layout.
Floor planning mistake: Not making your floor plan support the strategy/role of each category
Besides the mistake of not using retail data and not thinking about how your customers shop your store, there is another error that you’d do well to avoid. That is to create a floor plan first and then try and shoehorn the strategy or role that you’ve chosen for each of your categories into that plan.
In truth, it should be the other way around - only once you’ve chosen and are certain of the role for each of your product categories should you begin to build your floor plan. Following the category management process diligently can help you here.
There are four main consumer-based category roles: Destination, Routine, Seasonal, and Convenience. For each role, there are different strategies to help you achieve your goals. For example, if you want to give a category a Destination role, you should consider implementing a traffic building or turf defending strategy. If you want to give the same category a convenience role instead, you’d be better off using a transaction building strategy to meet your goals.
Here’s a practical example to further illustrate our point.
Let’s say you want to be known as the store that can provide shoppers with all of their Cheese needs. You’d thus want to give your Cheese category a Destination role, essentially presenting your store as the primary category provider. Whenever a shopper needs to buy anything cheese-related, you want them to think of your store first.
What this means in terms of your floor plan is that you’d need to give this category extra space in-store to indicate to your customers that you stock a wide and deep variety of cheeses. Thus, when your customers walk into the store, they will have no doubt that you do, in fact, offer them everything when it comes to Cheese.
Meanwhile, for another category - Toiletries - while you don’t want to be known for it, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stock it. In this case, though, it would be better to aim for a convenience role, which means a smaller range of products.
As a side note, there is no stopping you from implementing all four category roles in your store. In fact, you could even consider implementing a Destination role for a handful of categories in your store rather than just one. If you do, you must just ensure that it meets your shoppers’ expectations.