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Darren Gilbert Nov 15, 2022 3:37:55 PM 9 min read

How Often Should You Update Your Store Floor Plan?

How Often Should You Update Your Store Floor Plan?

Here's a question about a store floor plan that keeps coming up: how often should you update one? It’s a simple query, which should have a simple answer. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Instead, it leads to more questions. For example, why do you want to update your store floor plan*? Is it essential that you do it? More importantly, does the update make sense?

Quote on Updating Your Store Floor Plan

Of course, these questions are all worth asking and answering and especially if you consider that there are two different types of floor plan updates that you can undertake.

  • You can change the space allocation of your categories, or
  • You can decide to move your different product groupings around in-store, essentially flipping your original plan on its head. 

 

Regardless of which change you make, you'd handle each situation differently.

Changing the Space Allocation of Your Categories

1. Change the space allocation of your categories

 

          How often should you change the space allocation of your categories?

When it comes to re-evaluating the space allocation of your categories, it's best practice to do it at least every six months.

We’d argue that you should reassess your space more often than that, updating it on a seasonal basis and for events and promotions that you might undertake.

For example, in February, you may want to create a display for Valentine’s Day. These displays will impact your shelf space, which will, in turn, affect the immediate categories in the nearby area. The same would happen if you were to create a display during Easter or any other major seasonal event.

Fortunately, adjusting the space of your categories isn’t a significant change to your store floor plan and it won’t confuse your shoppers. Your categories will still be in the same place.

 

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That said, when making such an update, you should take space away from those categories that have the least significant financial impact on your business. After all, the last thing you'd want to do is take away a drop or two from your best-performing category. That’s even if it’s for a monthly promotion.

There is also the retail environment that you should acknowledge when considering an update. 

Let’s say you’re a large retailer, for example. 

For you, it wouldn’t be a good idea to shuffle your floor plans continuously. We’ll take a closer look at the limitations of making such an update later in this article. But for now, we’ll say that it will require significant time and money.

Just to note, if you are a large retailer, we would also recommend that you aim to update your space allocation on a seasonal basis within departments that allow for it. If, for example, you sell sports equipment, you could change your space allocation based on the season. Is it summer or winter?

          What to consider when changing the space allocation of your categories

Knowing how often you should change the space allocation of your categories goes a long way to helping you make the most of your floor space. But, it’s one thing to know how often you can change the space allocated to your categories, and another to implement the change.

After all, as much as you might want to, you can’t change your space allocation and expect to reap the rewards. Any change you make needs to make sense. More importantly, you must base any update on your store sales data.

People Making A Decision

By that, we’re referring specifically to your sales and unit data. 

Let’s use the water crisis that Cape Town is currently facing as an example to illustrate the point. Since the region is facing a drought, your shoppers would want to stock up on water. Therefore, you would be well advised to adjust your space allocation accordingly. 

In using your sales data (as well as your knowledge), you’d know that you’d need to remove a few drops from other categories to open up on bottled water for a month or so.

If you’re updating your store rather than creating a new floor plan, you should have a sales history, which will make this process easier. Six months is a minimum for you to spot any noticeable trends. That said, you must consider that every time you change something in one category, it has a knock-on effect on the rest of your space.

And then there are your shoppers. By putting similar categories beside each other, you're ensuring the shopper experience is more enjoyable. It could mean sacrificing a bit of space from a category that deserves the shelf space to ensure the flow of categories in-store makes sense.

          What limitations do you face when looking to change the space allocation?

We’ve briefly mentioned the limitations that you’d face when making a change to your space. They are time and money.

Let’s look at the time factor in more detail. 

The amount of time it takes to adjust a store floor plan impacts your productivity. You could easily find yourself needing to close down a section of your store while you implement the update. If you’re looking at updating many categories at once, it’s best to complete it as fast as possible.

 

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Meanwhile, as already noted above, the cost implication of changing category space allocation can be significant. 

Let’s take the example of a retailer who sells photographic equipment and needs to update the space allocated to it. Making the change means the whole department is packed away during trading hours, which can lead to a significant loss of income.

Let’s take the example of a retailer who sells photographic equipment and needs to update the space allocated to it. Making the change means the whole department is packed away during trading hours, which can lead to a significant loss of income.

Just to note, any significant changes should be done at night when your stores are closed. That will prevent you from losing out on any income during trading hours. Also, when making changes, you should consider the cost of labour involved and offset that against what you expect to receive in return.

If you're considering a change to the space allocations of your categories, ensure there is a good reason for doing it. If you must make this change, then go ahead. But not if you want to change for the sake of change.

Moving Your Categories Around In-Store

2. Move your categories around in-store

 

          How often should you update your store floor plan?

While it’s best to change the space allocation of your categories on a seasonal basis, when moving your categories around in-store, less is more.

In other words, a best practice is to make this change no more than once a year. As we noted in a previous article on building the perfect store floor plan, you could get away with doing it once every six months, but any more than that, and you’d be working against your best interests.

 

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That’s because of the disruption frequent updates can cause to your stores. Imagine your shoppers walk into your stores looking for a specific product in the aisle where it has always been only to find it gone. In its place, you’ve put an entirely different category. Shopper frustration ensues.

By updating your store floor plan too often, you can easily find your staff preoccupied with changing categories rather than fulfilling the role that they were employed to do. 

However, when you find an opportunity to change your floor plan to draw traffic through your stores, then go ahead. Just not too often.

          How to create a floor plan that pulls traffic through your store and reduces congestion

When built correctly, a floor plan can pull traffic through your stores.

By strategically spreading out high-traffic categories across your stores, you can encourage your customers to shop across your store. 

For example, if you stock staple (high traffic) items such as Milk, Sugar and Bread, you’d want to spread them across your stores so shoppers walk past more merchandise.

The benefit of following such a strategy is that it leads to increased basket sizes as your customers walk past categories and see items that they didn’t know they needed.

People Shopping And Browsing At A Store

That said, updating your floor plan and moving your categories around isn’t only so that you can make more money. It’s also about pleasing your customers. As we noted in a previous piece about developing a winning category strategy, these are your two core goals. 

And what is one of the biggest gripes that most customers have besides a store not having stock? It’s that a store is so busy it becomes unpleasant to shop.

That’s where your floor plan can help too. By keeping your best-performing categories at the end of your aisle, you can prevent floor congestion in the middle of the run during peak shopping hours. Spreading out your product groupings across the store also helps with congestion.

If you're aiming to reduce floor congestion, you should also check the unit movement of each of your aisles. If you find an aisle where the unit movement is high, you should move one of the large traffic generators from that aisle to another area in your stores.

          What limitations do you factor in when looking to move your categories?

There are a few limitations to factor in when looking to revamp your floor plan. These restrictions don't include the time it takes or the money it costs to make changes.

One limitation is the number of plug points available to you. It may come across as simple, but what if you are looking to buy more fridges to stock a growing category that needs refrigeration? It won’t be easy to change the space without that extra hassle.

BLOCK

On the other hand, fixtures can be a problem. 

Let’s say you have specific shelving that you can't move or that wouldn't suit the products that you want to place there. Since it’s best practice to not place unrelated categories next to each other, you could find yourself with a problem if you begin moving them around without looking first.

That said, keeping similar categories together can also impact how you design your floor plan. More than that, your range of items is another factor.

If you don’t have the correct range of items and stock too much of a range for a particular category, you could end up overspacing on it to accommodate items which don’t have a good return on investment.

Happy Customers In A Store Shopping

Conclusion

How you set up your floor plan plays a critical role in encouraging your customers to shop in your store. More than that is the point that when making any changes, you need to do so knowing that any mistake can affect how your customers experience your store. 

Are you interested in a category management solution that can help you entice customers into your store and keep them returning? Why not book a custom exploratory consultation with a DotActiv expert here and we can show you how. You can also browse through our various software and services on our online store here.

*This article was updated on 15 November 2022.

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Darren Gilbert

With over 10 years of writing and marketing experience, Darren joined DotActiv in 2017 as a content writer where he was responsible for producing blogs, Ebooks and more. He has since worked himself up to the role of content manager, where he oversees all and any content produced by the company. He has a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of Stellenbosch.