In the ever-changing world of retail management, optimizing physical space within a store can be a hit-or-miss art form. Ineffective merchandise placement can result in some shelves being bypassed by virtually all customers while others are stripped bare, leaving consumers with the impression that your store is under-stocked. The best way to avoid the impact of non-optimal space use on your bottom line is to answer these three questions:
How does the store layout impact customer behavior?
With very few exceptions, customers will make more unplanned purchases in a store where related products are housed in close, logical proximity to one another than they will if they are not, especially if the related products can be spotted quickly.
For example, a customer enters a business supply store on their lunch hour to purchase a new printer. They then pass the ink cartridges and paper en route to the checkout stand. The customer is now more likely to end up buying those items as well than they would be if the ink and paper were not in the line of sight or if they had to trek to three separate corners of the store.
Are parts of your store underutilized?
Some people believe that you can tell if a store has underutilized space by tracking the inventory by sections or departments. In actuality, a surplus of inventory on the shelves can be the result of several unrelated factors, including overpricing and inefficient advertising. After all, if the neighborhood doesn’t know you sell the product, they are much less likely to try and locate it in your store.
What potential changes can be made to the store layout to alter the customer behavior?
While there is no specific layout that works for all retail stores, it is well-established that a clean store with wide, brightly-lit aisles and neat, uncluttered (but well-stocked) displays result in a more relaxing shopping experience. A comfortable customer is going to spend more time in your store and is more likely to return and shop again.
Not too long ago, the only way to find the answers to these questions would have been paying someone to perform a usage study to document customer shopping habits. This was time-consuming and expensive. It would also have to be redone each time there was a perceived variance in sales. Luckily, today there are new retail systems in place that can provide an on-demand usage map showing what path customers took through the store and how long they spent in each place. In addition, some, such as RetailFlux Flow, can quickly and easily identify the underutilized sections of the store, allowing you to immediately reconfigure displays and merchandise placement for maximum flow. For more information on how the experts at RetailFlux can help with your store optimization, contact us today!