Darren Gilbert Feb 5, 2018 4:17:15 PM 14 min read

How Often Should You Update Your Store Floor Plan?

Store Floor Plan Frequency.jpg

Here's a question about store floor plans that keeps coming up: how often should you update them? 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? More importantly, does the update make sense?

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

On the one hand, you can change the space allocation of your categories. On the other hand, 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, each should be handled differently.

1. Changing 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, a best practice is 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, during 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 so it won’t confuse your shoppers. Your categories will still be in the same place. That said, when making such an update, you should take space away from those categories that will have the least 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.

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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 limitation you’d face in going through with such an update. But for now, we’ll say that it will require a significant amount of both 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 you sell sports equipment, for example, you could change your space allocation based on whether it’s summer or winter.

What should you 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 just make a change to your space and expect to reap the rewards. Any change you make needs to make sense. More importantly, you should base any update on your store sales data.

By that, we’re referring specifically to your sales and units 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. By using your sales data (as well as common 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 store floor plan, you should have sales history, which will make this process easier. Six months is a minimum for you to spot any noticeable trends. That said, you do need to consider that every time you make a change to one category, it has a knock-on effect on your other categories.

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

What limitations would you face when looking to change the space allocation of your categories?

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 overall 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 all at once, it’s best to complete it as fast as possible.

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.

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

When considering a change to the space allocations of your categories, it needs to make sense. If it’s essential you make this change, then go ahead. But not if you want to change for the sake of change.

2. Moving 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 it comes to moving your categories around in-store, less is more.

In other words, a best practice is to make this sort of 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.

That’s because of the disruption that 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 located 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 also easily find your staff preoccupied with changing categories around rather than fulfilling the role that they were employed to do. That said, when you find an opportunity to change your floor plan in such a way that it will draw traffic through your stores, then go ahead. Just not too often.

How do you create a floor plan that pulls traffic through your store and reduces congestion?

When built correctly, a floor plan has the power to pull traffic through your stores.

By strategically spreading out high traffic categories across your stores, you can encourage your customers to shop more of your store. For example, if you stock staple (high traffic) items such as Milk, Sugar and Bread, you’d want to spread them out across your stores so that shoppers are forced to walk past more merchandise.

The obvious benefit of following such a strategy is that it will lead to an increase in the basket size of your customer as they’ll walk past categories and see items that they didn’t know they needed.

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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 how to develop 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 categories across the store will also help with congestion.

Just to note, when looking to reduce floor congestion, you should check the units movement of each of your aisles. If you find that there is an aisle of categories where the units movement is high, it’s worth moving one of the big traffic generators from that aisle to another area in your stores.

What limitations would you factor in when looking to change your floor plan?

There are a few limitations to factor in when you’re looking to revamp your floor plan. These restrictions are over and above the time it will take and the money it will cost to make changes.

One limitation is the amount 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 extra hassle that you could do without.

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 over spacing on it to accommodate items which don’t have a good return on investment.


Interested in finding out how DotActiv’s category management solution can help you to create data-driven store layouts that work for you? Click on the blue button below for your free demo.


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.