Imagine you are a customer walking through your store's
front door for the first time. What impression do you have
of the store? What benefits are being offered to you? Do
you have a sense of excitement and confidence? The physical
setting and visual cues of your business set the stage for
the consumer's experience with you. So what will it be?
Take your positioning statement from your
business plan and present it in the 3-D world of location,
architecture and interior design. Use scale, colors, textures,
materials, amenities and layout to convey your store's philosophy.
Should you use a chandelier, neon or spotlights? Elegant
columns, contemporary angles or casual corners? Hot colors
or subdued hues? Marble floors or industrial carpet? Set
the stage for your customers.
Your store plan has two key elements: store
design and store layout. Store design is concerned with
atmosphere, image, interior design and exterior design factors.
Store layout involves the internal arrangements of each
department, selling and sales support allocation, and the
evaluation of space productivity.
To set up your store, consider consulting
with architects, interior designers and lighting engineers.
Working with skillful designers gives you an invaluable
resource: Not only will they know the best location for
air conditioners and elevators, but they can help build
flexibility into lighting, sound and wiring systems that
will keep you from incurring costs when floor layouts are
altered. Designers keep abreast of the hottest color schemes,
materials, sources and trends to a degree that would be
impossible for someone outside the trades to do. You can
save yourself a lot of aggravation and a fair amount of
money with thoughtful preparation.
If you choose to do the work yourself, get
out there and do your research. Visit retail businesses.
Make sure you visit stores similar to the one you plan to
open as well as ones that are different. You never know
where you might find a good idea. Take notes on elements
that work and don't work--then figure out why.
Principles Of Space Allocation
Once you've decided on a layout for your business, turn
your attention to space allocation. Seven fundamental principles
should guide you:
Show all merchandise to all customers. The more
merchandise customers see, the more they will buy. You want
to design your store to entice customers to visit all departments
or at least to see what the store has and return another
time. You can accomplish this objective through strategic
location of signs, special values, escalators, stairs, dressing
rooms and certain merchandise. (Many supermarkets place
convenience items such as bread and milk at the rear of
the store to drive traffic storewide.)
Give choice locations, where inside customer traffic is
heavy, to the most profitable items. High-markup
and impulse items should be very visible.
Discourage shoplifting. Keep small, expensive items
under lock and key, use convex mirrors where blind spots
cannot be eliminated, and install video monitors. By keeping
everything wide open, salespeople can observe everyone in
Experiment to stay exciting. To accommodate changes
in layout and merchandise displays, you need to have fixtures
that are movable and adjustable, so keep this in mind when
you're buying cabinets, shelving, lighting and other furnishings.
Locate related lines next to each other. Ties should
be located close to dress shirts, printers next to computers,
vases next to flowers, and so forth.
Locate related departments next to each other. Fashion
departments complement each other. Cosmetics, accessories
and jewelry often go well together. Cookbooks and gourmet
utensils stimulate interest in one another. Departments
and merchandise categories should be coordinated as much
as possible for customer convenience and cross-selling.
Give the most important lines the best locations in your
store. Play the winners. Anything that is moving
fast should be exploited in every way.