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Store Layout, Design & Visual Merchandising:

Store Layout, Design & Visual Merchandising Angela D’Auria Stanton, Ph.D.

“Shopper found dead in local store; cause of death – boredom” Stanley Marcus, Chairman-Emeritus, Neiman Marcus:

“Shopper found dead in local store; cause of death – boredom” Stanley Marcus, Chairman-Emeritus, Neiman Marcus No other variable in the retailing mix influences the consumer’s initial perceptions of a bricks & mortar retailer as much as the store itself. The store is “where the action is” and includes such minor details as the placement of the merchandise.

Objectives of the Store Environment:

Objectives of the Store Environment Get customers into the store (store image) Serves a critical role in the store selection process Important criteria include cleanliness, labeled prices, accurate and pleasant checkout clerks, and well-stocked shelves The store itself makes the most significant and last impression Once they are inside the store, convert them into customers buying merchandise (space productivity) The more merchandise customers are exposed to that is presented in an orderly manner, the more they tend to buy Retailers focusing more attention on in-store marketing – marketing dollars spent in the store, in the form of store design, merchandise presentation, visual displays, and in-store promotions, should lead to greater sales and profits (bottom line: it is easier to get a consumer in your store to buy more merchandise than planned than to get a new consumer to come into your store)

Objectives of Good Store Design:

Objectives of Good Store Design Design should: be consistent with image and strategy positively influence consumer behavior consider costs versus value be flexible recognize the needs of the disabled – The Americans with Disabilities Act

Types of Floor Space in Store:

Types of Floor Space in Store Back Room – receiving area, stockroom Department stores (50%) Small specialty and convenience stores (10%) General merchandise stores (15-20%) Offices and Other Functional Space – employee break room, store offices, cash office, restrooms Aisles, Service Areas and Other Non-Selling Areas Moving shoppers through the store, dressing rooms, layaway areas, service desks, customer service facilities Merchandise Space Floor Wall

Store Layout (and Traffic Flow):

Store Layout (and Traffic Flow) Conflicting objectives: Ease of finding merchandise versus varied and interesting layout Giving customers adequate space to shop versus use expensive space productively

Grid (Straight) Design:

Grid (Straight) Design Best used in retail environments in which majority of customers shop the entire store Can be confusing and frustrating because it is difficult to see over the fixtures to other merchandise Should be employed carefully; forcing customers to back of large store may frustrate and cause them to look elsewhere Most familiar examples for supermarkets and drugstores

Curving/Loop (Racetrack) Design:

Curving/Loop (Racetrack) Design Major customer aisle(s) begins at entrance, loops through the store (usually in shape of circle, square or rectangle) and returns customer to front of store Exposes shoppers to the greatest possible amount of merchandise by encouraging browsing and cross-shopping

Free-Flow Layout:

Free-Flow Layout Fixtures and merchandise grouped into free-flowing patterns on the sales floor – no defined traffic pattern Works best in small stores (under 5,000 square feet) in which customers wish to browse Works best when merchandise is of the same type, such as fashion apparel If there is a great variety of merchandise, fails to provide cues as to where one department stops and another starts Storage, Receiving, Marketing Underwear Dressing Rooms Checkout counter Clearance Items Feature Feature Jeans Casual Wear Stockings Accessories Pants Tops Tops Skirts and Dresses Hats and Handbags Open Display Window Open Display Window

Spine Layout:

Spine Layout Variation of grid, loop and free-form layouts Based on single main aisle running from the front to the back of the store (transporting customers in both directions) On either side of spine, merchandise departments branch off toward the back or side walls Heavily used by medium-sized specialty stores ranging from 2,000 – 10,000 square feet In fashion stores the spine is often subtly offset by a change in floor coloring or surface and is not perceived as an aisle

Location of Departments:

Location of Departments Relative location advantages Impulse products Demand/destination areas Seasonal needs Physical characteristics of merchandise Adjacent departments

Feature Areas:

Feature Areas The areas within a store designed to get the customer’s attention which include: End caps – displays located at the end of the aisles Promotional aisle/area Freestanding fixtures Windows Walls Point-of-sale (POS) displays/areas

Fixture Types:

Fixture Types Straight Rack – long pipe suspended with supports to the floor or attached to a wall Gondola – large base with a vertical spine or wall fitted with sockets or notches into which a variety of shelves, peghooks, bins, baskets and other hardware can be inserted. Four-way Fixture – two crossbars that sit perpendicular to each other on a pedestal Round Rack – round fixture that sits on pedestal Other common fixtures: tables, large bins, flat-based decks

Fixture Types:

Fixture Types Wall Fixtures To make store’s wall merchandisable, wall usually covered with a skin that is fitted with vertical columns of notches similar to those on a gondola, into which a variety of hardware can be inserted Can be merchandised much higher than floor fixtures (max of 42” on floor for round racks on wall can be as high as 72”

Merchandise Display Planning:

Merchandise Display Planning Shelving – flexible, easy to maintain Hanging Pegging – small rods inserted into gondolas or wall systems – can be labor intensive to display/maintain but gives neat/orderly appearance Folding – for softlines can be folded and stacked on shelves or tables - creates high fashion image Stacking – for large hardlines can be stacked on shelves, base decks of gondolas or flats – easy to maintain and gives image of high volume and low price Dumping – large quantities of small merchandise can be dumped into baskets or bins – highly effective for softlines (socks, wash cloths) or hardlines (batteries, candy, grocery products) – creates high volume, low cost image

Three Psychological Factors to Consider in Merchandising Stores:

Three Psychological Factors to Consider in Merchandising Stores Value/fashion image Trendy, exclusive, pricy vs value-oriented Angles and Sightlines Customers view store at 45 degree angles from the path they travel as they move through the store Most stores set up at right angles because it’s easier and consumes less space Vertical color blocking Merchandise should be displayed in vertical bands of color wherever possible – will be viewed as rainbow of colors if each item displayed vertically by color Creates strong visual effect that shoppers are exposed to more merchandise (which increases sales)

POS Displays:

POS Displays Assortment display – open and closed assortment Theme-setting display Ensemble display Rack display Case display Cut case Dump bin

Visual Merchandising:

Visual Merchandising The artistic display of merchandise and theatrical props used as scene-setting decoration in the store Several key characteristics Not associated with shop-able fixture but located as a focal point or other area remote from the on-shelf merchandising (and perhaps out of the reach of customers) Use of props and elements in addition to merchandise – visuals don’t always include merchandise; may just be interesting display of items related to merchandise or to mood retailer wishes to create Visuals should incorporate relevant merchandise to be most effective Retailers should make sure displays don’t create walls that make it difficult for shoppers to reach other areas of the store

StoreFront Design:

StoreFront Design Storefronts must: Clearly identify the name and general nature of the store Give some hint as to the merchandise inside Includes all exterior signage In many cases includes store windows – an advertising medium for the store – window displays should be changed often, be fun/exciting, and reflect merchandise offered inside


Atmospherics The design of an environment via: visual communications lighting color sound scent to stimulate customers’ perceptual and emotional responses and ultimately influence their purchase behavior

Visual Communications:

Visual Communications Name, logo and retail identity Institutional signage Directional, departmental and category signage Point-of-Sale (POS) Signage Lifestyle Graphics

Visual Communications:

Visual Communications Coordinate signs and graphics with store’s image Inform the customer Use signs and graphics as props Keep signs and graphics fresh Limit sign copy Use appropriate typefaces on signs Create theatrical effects


Lighting Important but often overlooked element in successful store design Highlight merchandise Capture a mood Level of light can make a difference Blockbuster Fashion Departments


Color Can influence behavior Warm colors increase blood pressure, respiratory rate and other physiological responses – attract customers and gain attention but can also be distracting Cool colors are relaxing, peaceful, calm and pleasant – effective for retailers selling anxiety-causing products

Sound & Scent:

Sound & Scent Sound Music viewed as valuable marketing tool Often customized to customer demographics - AIE ( ) Can use volume and tempo for crowd control Scent Smell has a large impact on our emotions Victoria Secret, The Magic Kingdom, The Knot Shop Can be administered through time release atomizers or via fragrance-soaked pellets placed on light fixtures

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