Store Layout 101 | Organization Tips That Will Maximize Your Retail Space

Behind every shopper’s experience is a carefully orchestrated plan based on brand psychology and consumer trend data. In-store shopping behavior has been at the forefront of research for independent grocers and the findings may surprise you.

A 5% increase in customer retention can produce up to five times that of more profit.

With small changes, you can make a big difference in your store’s customer experience. One of the most confounding ways we have found to boost a stores CX experience is with their visual merchandising.


Visual merchandising is the process of how stores display and present their products.

Claus Ebster, a marketing consultant, and associate professor at the University of Vienna, offers insight into visual merchandising and store layout.


“Whatever the different motives are for buying a product, the fact that most purchase decisions are made or influenced on the sales for makes the point of sale an ideal marketing tool--for both the retailers and the manufacturers.”


In his book,Store Design and Visual Merchandising, Ebster details the variety of social aspects that influence retail marketing. While each store carries its own unique experience, this book includes a lot of great ways to optimize your store to increase consumer buying habits.


Avoid Transition Zones

Coined by retail anthropologist Paco Underhill, this zone is the space between the entrance and the shopping displays. When a customer first walks in, they are too busy mentally adjusting to the new sights and surrounding that they aren’t going to focus on the available product just yet.Placing high margin items or important signage in the transition zone will get lost. But the transition zone is a great place for first impressions which is often why we see greeters at the entrance of popular stores.



Customers Walk Counterclockwise

There are a lot of theories as to why customers walk counterclockwise. A large portion of the population is right-handed, or because we read left to right. Organizing your store to follow this behavior carries a lot of benefits. Shoppers are not only more likely to shop for a longer distance when following a counter clockwise layout, but they also are exposed to more merchandise along the way.


Customers Avoid Narrow Aisles

In narrow aisles, customers feel that their personal space is being invaded while shopping. In the United States especially, it is common for customers to maintain larger social distances when possible.


Shoppers Avoid Upper and Lower Floors

While escalators and elevators alleviate this problem, it does not completely solve it. For larger retailers, it is best to keep your most important merchandise on the first floor. For stores in cities, it isn’t always possible to follow this rule. For fashion retailers, Ebster recommends putting women’s clothing and merchandise on the first floor and men’s on the second as women are most often the primary consumer.


Store Layouts


Forced Path

This format was popularized by Swedish home goods store, Ikea. Forced path ensures that shoppers are exposed to all your merchandise and all that your store has to offer.




Great for large supermarkets and big box stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. This layout works if your store operates as an omnichannel or offers a variety of different products.




You may have seen this layout in specialty retail stores like Bed Bath &Beyond. This layout maximizes wall space and guides shoppers along a specified pathway.



This format is simple and easy to implement for smaller sized retailers like liquor or convenience stores. While this layout is efficient, it may be harder to draw shoppers to specific merchandise.




The layout is a unique approach that stores with self-checkout systems are using. Having aisles at a slight angle displays the merchandise easily for shoppers and can be more accessible for them as they navigate the store.





Combining more than one layout offers the best of both worlds. More and more are we seeing large grocery stores implement this style to give customers flexibility and variety as they travel through your store.


Whether it’s store layout or consumer trends, Decorworx can help independent grocers stand out against large competitors. We follow industry insights and trends that will make our partners successful within their business.