Customer Paths and Retail Store Layout — Part 4

We are now into the core of this retail store layout series! Part three introduced us to three layouts that are very popular including the forced-path layout, the grid, and the racetrack layout.

We’ll continue along those lines and introduce three more layouts to choose from. These floor plans are a little less popular but can still be used very effectively.

Straight Layout

The straight layout is exactly what it sounds like. The customer path goes from the entrance to the back of the retail store in a straight line making use fixtures to create small spaces within. The back of the store usually features a cashier and sometimes even the exit. If the space is fortunate enough to have an entrance on one side and an exit on the other, it can force the customer to make their way through the store. Visual displays and merchandise signage helps keep customers interested and moving forward.

On the flip side of the coin, once the customer passes through the decompression zone it’s very hard to predict how they will interact with the space because it interferes with sight-lines. They may or may not respond to the signage in the way that you intend and follow their own path.

Diagonal Layout

This is more of a visual element rather than a floor plan. Most layouts features shelves that are perpendicular or parallel to the retail store’s walls whereas the diagonal layout places them in angles. This increases customer sight-lines and adds an interesting visual abstraction to entice customers to browse. Where the grid floor plan provides the expected, diagonal lines create a surprise for the customer. The improved sight-line also helps visibility for cashiers to improve security.

However, these angled aisles take up more space than if you placed them at 90 degree angles decreasing the amount of merchandise you can display. It also reduces the possibility of a direct shortcut for customers to get to a specific item and it is more likely to run the risk of creating narrower aisles.

Angular Layout

The first thing that you should know about the angular layout is that, well, it has no angles. Rather, an angular floor plan makes use of curves. Curved shelving, convex walls, rounded corners, and other soft angles for fixtures to create a surprising visual feast for those that enter the retail store. This type of layout gives customers the perception that it features higher quality merchandise as the look tends to create very unique environments which entices them to the displays.

Of course there are cons to the angular layout as well. The rounded fixtures are not efficient from a space perspective and you will almost certainly have to custom build them making for a more expensive store floor plan.

We’re not done yet! Part five of this series will continue our exploration of different layouts which retail stores may consider to apply to their space.

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