Visual merchandising for your retail business

Visual merchandising: retail store design and layout


Your retail store is a blank canvas - how you design the floor plan and use space can affect your customers' desire to buy your products.

Try to use mobile shelving and display units which you can move and easily dismantle, as these will help you to make regular changes and keep your store interesting.

Store entrance

Your shop entrance has the highest footfall in your premises so it's an impactful area to place products.

Placing promotional offers here can reassure and confirm a customer's decision for deciding to enter your store. However, you should also make sure you don't crowd the entrance by keeping the space uncluttered.

Place your essential items as far from the entrance as possible. For grocery stores this could be bread or milk, and for office supply stores it could be paper and ink cartridges. This is so that customers spend more time in the store, covering as much ground as possible, which hopefully equates to how much money they will spend.

Impactful displays

Make the space you have well-designed and impactful - think about the types of products you stock and your options for displaying them. Use striking colours, group similar products together, plan symmetrical displays or use repetition to make a statement.

Keeping high profit items at eye level could also boost your profitability - customers will be more likely to bend or reach for cheaper items but you should make it easier for them to purchase those products that will boost your margins.

Try to provide your customers with enough space to allow them to think and move freely around the store, even if you have very limited space. Also, decide what path you want them to take - use displays and racks to create a clear path to gain maximum exposure to your products because the more products customers see, the more they tend to buy.

Create a focal point

Create a focal point in an area of your store that gets the most traffic and is the most visible. A well-planned area that stands out can increase sales. Make sure customers can easily view the products that you're highlighting and give them a clear call-to-action eg 'Buy now'.

It could also be worthwhile to make use of the space between the displayed merchandise and the ceiling. You could use it to provide information about your products or profile a designer or supplier.

Your checkout area and point of sale display should be located at a natural stopping point in the shopping experience. See visual merchandising: point-of-sale displays and price promotions.

Customer experience

Create an atmosphere in your store that mirrors your image. For example, if you want customers to feel they're getting a good promotional deal, stripped down facilities could contribute to their idea of a discount retailer. However, this sort of presentation wouldn't work in an exclusive jewellery store.

In addition, don't worry if your store is on the smaller side - sometimes a smaller space is preferable as it can provide a warmer, more welcoming feel than a larger space in which customers may feel uncomfortable and alone.