Checklist for Setting Up a Great Retail Space

By Rochelle Bailis

4 min read

Setting up a great retail space that is optimized for sales and traffic involves paying attention to aesthetics as well as functionality. When you do a good job of merchandising and displaying your products, it can boost the attractiveness of your store and ultimately increase its profitability.

Before you are ready to open your doors to the public, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Lure Customers in With the Window Display

If your window display is appealing, passersby are more likely to want to enter the store and browse. Since these displays communicate volumes to potential customers about your store, arrange them with the utmost care and thought. You may want to first check out your competitors, understand their style and visual approach, and then attempt to make your window displays look even more attractive than theirs.

When designing your window display, pick a color scheme that you feel portrays your store’s image. Avoid clutter because, in the retail world, wider spaces are associated with more upscale merchandise. Keep most of the merchandise at eye level. Step back from the window and view it at different angles to make sure it looks interesting from all sides. If you have friends who are artistically inclined or have a flair for decorating, ask for their input.

Change the display at least once a month to showcase different merchandise and avoid boring your customers. If you sell an item from the window, always replace it with something so the space will not look picked over.

2. Make Your Entrance Inviting

What impression does your entrance give? Put an eye-catching display close to the front. Follow the example of a major retailer who places products near the entrance that customers can smell, touch or try. It is a good idea to place featured items near the entrance as well. Do not block the view to the rest of the store with a tall rack.

3. Entice Customers to the Right

Studies show that shoppers tend to start browsing on the right side of the entrance and canvas the store in a counter-clockwise direction. Place arresting merchandise on the right to steer them that way.

4. Try These Design Ideas

Instead of laying out aisles parallel to the store’s exterior walls, create visual interest by positioning them at an angle. This option is for retail spaces with aisles wide enough to permit ease of customer navigation.

Customers can overlook merchandise placed on long uninterrupted aisles. Create breaks within the aisles to get their attention.

People are drawn to U-shapes, so create rounded spaces within your store to lure customers to browse. You can make a U-shaped background with a low wall and small sidewalls extending forward and then fill it with your products.

5. Arrange Your Merchandise in a Self-Serviceable Manner

As the orderliness of the arrangement of your merchandise will affect salability, position your products logically in an easy-to-find manner. Keep similar items in groups, and consider labeling sections.

6. Use Shelving Space to Its Best Advantage

Instead of using top shelves as an overstock area, use them to display items sold on lower shelves. In deciding how to arrange merchandise, remember that items placed at eye level are at the most strategic spot for eliciting sales. Make sure products face forward and pull them close to the outside edge of the shelf.

7. Decorate So That Customers Will Want to Linger

If your business needs a dressing room, add extra touches to make it pleasing to the eye. It should be a place where people feel comfortable.

A lounge area for customers and their guests to relax would be a nice addition to certain businesses. This could consist of an overstuffed couch, a coffee table with magazines and a counter where patrons can help themselves to coffee or tea.

Interactive displays that encourage using engagement, such as “try me” samples, interactive products or guest books, are a good way to keep customers in your store longer.

8. Encourage Impulse Buying at the Cash Register

When a customer is waiting to check out, you have a captive audience. Place new and exciting merchandise on the countertop and on the wall space behind the store clerk.

Do not use shelves below the counter to store orders and paperwork. Only place items here that are for sale, so you make the most of this strategic space (many convenience stores employ this tactic).

9. Designate an Area for Inventory

Keep this area very organized so you can grab what you need quickly. If a customer needs a different size or model, you must be able to procure it while monitoring your retail space.

10. Decide on an Office Area

Pick an area where you can work when customers are not in the store. Make sure you do not have fixtures or displays blocking your view of the front door.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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