4 Retail Store Layout Tricks That Increase Sales

Merchandise will sell itself when it looks good. But when it doesn’t, even the best product can sit on your shelves gathering dust! You need an environment that attracts customers, entices them to spend time in the store, and encourages them to purchase impulsively while they are there. Here is a list of 4 store layout tricks to keep your sales floor current.

1. Choose the Right Store Layout

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The shapes and size of the sales floors affects your sales. Are you using the right layout? The first of our store layout tricks is to take a look at your store and see if the current layout works for your retail vertical.

Grocery stores typically use a Grid Layout, where the fixtures run parallel to the walls. Big box stores frequently use Loop Layouts. These layouts offer a clearly defined main aisle that circles the store like a race track.

Boutiques and stores with a smaller footprint generally benefit from a Free Flow Layout because it allows for the most flexibility and creativity. In a Free Flow Layout, fixtures are placed at angles to encourage shoppers to easily move throughout the store as demonstrated below.

Image credit: creativeshopfitters.co.za

2. Clear out The Decompression Zone

Every store has a Decompression Zone (DZ). It is an important space located just inside your front door that many retailers misuse.

The size of your DZ depends on the size of your sales floor, but it’s generally the first 5’ to 15 feet inside the door. The DZ gives shoppers a chance to transition from the parking lot (or mall) to your store.

Shoppers will miss anything you place in the DZ so it needs to be an open, uncluttered space. Place signs, baskets, etc. just outside your DZ where shoppers are more likely to see them.

3. Take Advantage of Lake Front Property

Some areas of your sales floor are more important an others. We call these areas Lake Front Property (LFP) because a big percentage of your sales happen here.

Use your LFP to display new, hot, and high margin product. And just like in a grocery store, the basics – think bread and milk – should be housed towards the back of your store.

Since 90% of customers will enter your store and look or turn to the right, this piece of LFP needs to be merchandised with care. Our V & Vista Exercise™ will help you find your store’s unique Lake Front Property:

The Vista Exercise

Stand inside your front door just beyond the Decompression Zone and spread your arms at shoulder height with your index fingers extended. The Vista is what’s inside the V your arms make. This is the area that builds first impressions.

The V helps you find your Power Walls. Follow your nose down your right arm to the tip of your index finger – the wall you’re looking at is your front right Power Wall; the most important selling wall in your store. Use it (and the sales floor at the front right) to feature not-to-be-missed merchandise.

Cash wrap

A mistake some retailers make is placing the cash wrap at the right front of the store, in the middle of the Lake Front Property. You may argue that it’s nice to have someone there to say hello to shoppers as they enter the store, but that can be solved by alert store associates.

Your cash wrap should be located at a natural stopping point in the shopping experience: the left side of the store is a good choice. So is the center of the store, about 20’ back from the front door.

Power Wall

Now, follow your nose down your left arm to the tip of your left index finger. This left front Power Wall is also important – display it with as much thought and care as the one on the right.

(Note:  If your store’s footprint makes it impossible for shoppers to enter your store and turn right, then everything is reversed: the front left becomes your Lake Front Property.)

4. Speed Bumps

Speed Bumps are displays you place just past the DZ, in the center of the Vista. Like speed bumps in parking lots, design these displays to slow customers down and get them shopping. Choose small fixtures or stacking tables that hold an assortment of product and are low enough to allow customers to see through the store.

Use your Speed Bump displays to feature new and seasonal items, and to tell product stories – and change them at least once a week. This keeps your first impression fresh and it keeps associates on their toes. Don’t be surprised if you hear, “When did we get that merchandise?” more than once.

In Summary

Your store has other key display areas that will become apparent when you do the V & Vista Exercise™. Walking your sales floor with the customers’ eyes on helps, too. Take along a notebook when you walk your floor and write down everything that needs to be changed, moved, updated, closed out, tossed or given away.

Make a list of things to do. Note what needs to be changed ASAP. Then, look at what can be fixed over time. If you do this exercise and only find two or three things to do, you are not being objective. Open your eyes and do it again.

Whether you’re gearing up for a new store, a mini-makeover, or a complete sales floor upgrade, you are not alone. If you’re not sure what to do first, we’re always happy to share ideas and more store layout tricks to help get you started!

More ways to improve your visual merchandising standards and boost sales:


Refer to the Merchandising category for checklists, how-tos and best practices for merchandising.


About the authors:

KIZER & BENDER are contributors to MSNBC’s Your Business. They have been named two of Retailing’s Most Influential People. As global retail thought leaders, they are listed among the Top 40 Omnichannel Retail Influencers, Top 100 Retail Influencers, and the Top Retail Industry Experts to Follow on Social Media. Their award-winning Retail Adventures Blog is listed among important retail and small business blogs. KIZER & BENDER serve as BrainTrust panelists for RetailWire and are partners and emcees for the popular Independent Retailer Conference.

2 thoughts on “4 Retail Store Layout Tricks That Increase Sales

  1. That is interesting that you should have the cash wrap at a natural stopping point in the store. This is something that sounds like it could be applied when it comes to a retail company. That is something I would want to have if I were looking for some retail merchandising.

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