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Three Space Planning Pitfalls Which Destroy Shopping Experiences

Kyle Dorfling
by Kyle Dorfling on Aug 31, 2016 5:07:38 PM


We have all experienced a terrible shopping experience at some point or another. Whether it was a Saturday month-end shop or a regular pit stop on your way home from work to grab some of the items you need for a much anticipated Friday BBQ (or braai as we call it here in South Africa). A bad shopping experience does not only influence shoppers’ moods, but they also damage store performance. In fact, if "XYZ store" offers a terrible experience between 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm, then I will naturally avoid the store during those times.

But with that said, a wise man once told me not to raise a problem without bringing reasonable and realistic solutions to the conversation. So before I deliver on the headline, let me comment on a couple of things:

1) The space planning pitfalls that I've listed below come from my personal experiences at stores, but I am sure you will be able to relate to some of them.

2) The solutions suggested in this blog post are based on eight years of working in a retail space planning tech business that works with leading retailers and suppliers in over seven countries.

So without further ado, here are 3 of the worst space planning pitfalls which destroy shopping experiences [plus reasonable and actionable solutions]:

The store is so busy that it's unpleasant to shop:

You know the feeling you get when you are trying to grab everything you need on your shopping list but the traffic in the store keeps holding you up? For example, when you want to pick a product from the shelf but there's someone who beat you to it, and they can't make up their mind as to which spice bottle of spice to choose. Fair enough they got there before me, but the situation is less than pleasant.

The solution:

Celebrate because your stores are full so business must be good? Ask your shoppers to shop when it's less busy? Wrong, these shoppers are bound to shop elsewhere if you don't sort your floor planning out soon! We have found that by analyzing category sales and unity movement, floor plans can be designed in a way that high traffic categories can be spread strategically in order to alleviate floor congestion during peak trading hours. This type of floor planning will reduce the floor congestion when your shoppers need it the most.

My favorite product is out of stock:

Another bad experience I've had, more than once, was when I assumed one stop would do the trick, but the last two items on my shopping list were nowhere to be found. What was especially frustrating was that the product is usually available at the same store. Knowing that I couldn't arrive home without the two items, I ended up having to stop at an additional store on the way home. Not ideal.

The solution:

Don't confuse out of stocks with a store that has a narrow variety of products on offer. People become familiar with products you do and don't stock. So when I refer to an out of stock product, I am talking about a product that should be on display in the category that it was before but becomes unavailable for a period.

It's not always the case, but it often comes down to inconsistent days of supply. These inconsistencies force store staff to replenish shelves when products run out at random intervals. This can be solved by implementing planograms that use space allocation and sales performance data to calculate days of supply. During the planogram design process, make sure that your space planners keep a close eye on making the days of supply for each product in a category as similar as possible.

As an example, an ideal scenario for a category would be for the average days of supply for each product to be seven days. This would allow store staff to replenish the entire category on the 5th day before any products go out of stock.  

The queues are long and boring:

Let’s be honest, nobody likes waiting. Having to stand and wait in a long line for more than ten minutes to get to the checkout isn't anybody's idea of fun.

The solution:

Okay, when cashiers are already in full attendance ringing up products as quickly as possible there's no real solution to this problem.  But you can give shoppers a great display to look at while they are waiting in line to pay. A well-planned snake aisle which encourages customers to buy additional goods is an excellent way to take advantage of queueing time and increase their basket size.


Other things have a significant impact on shopping experiences such as brilliant service, localized assortments and store design. Add data-driven space planning to your mix and your stores will be one step ahead of the competition. Have you had a bad shopping experience before? Or do you have thoughts or ideas on how space planning can be used to improve shopping experiences? Please share these in the comments section below:


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