by Anne Haimes of AH Interiors
Major retailers have long known that the layout of a store can seriously affect sales. By creating an environment which appeals to customers on a subconscious level, shop owners can persuade people to spend more money in-store. Since the economic downturn, this has become even more important, with shops pulling out all the stops in an attempt to boost sales and stay afloat.
Traditionally, small business owners have been less concerned with shop layout, leaving these tactics to big-name brands. However, even the smallest of stores can benefit from a carefully thought-out store plan. Here are some tips which could increase your sales:
1. Make the changing rooms difficult to find.
By the time your customer has an armful of clothes to try on, they’re fairly committed to shopping in your store – so an out-of-the-way changing room is unlikely to make them walk out. Placing the changing rooms in a quiet corner forces customers to walk through the rest of the shop, passing other clothing displays and potentially picking up more items to try on.
2. Think about your shelves.
Positioning is important – research has shown that many shoppers only look at eye-level items. Make sure the products with the largest profit margin are placed at eye height on your shelves.
3. Don’t place shelves and clothing racks immediately inside the door.
The entrance is the most stressful part of a shop’s environment, and customers rarely make purchasing decisions here. It’s best to create a 15ft ‘decompression zone’ around the door, allowing shoppers to de-stress and acclimatize to the store’s interior.
4. Harness the power of visual.
Supermarkets have visual standards for their fresh produce, rejecting all but the most perfectly formed fruit and vegetables. This is for a reason – customers buy with their eyes, and visual appeal is a powerful tool of persuasion. However you choose to display your wares, make sure everything looks eye-catching and appealing – and always keep your store spotlessly clean.
5. Take care with your windows.
These serve as an advertisement for your store, and an attractive window display alone can persuade people to step inside. Seek inspiration in the window displays of high street stores – an effective display is simple, stylish, and flawless. Clutter should be avoided at all costs, and you should always cover your windows when redressing them.
6. Invest in some speakers.
Music can have a surprisingly strong effect on customers. If your clientele are more mature, calm music could create a relaxing, welcoming atmosphere – think Debenhams or Marks & Spencer. Louder, faster music can be used to spur younger customers on to make buying decisions – Hollister and SuperDry use this tactic.
7. If a product engages several of a customer’s senses at once, they’re more likely to make a purchase.
Many major supermarkets use their in-store bakeries to entice customers with the smell of freshly baked bread – if you sell food, make smell part of your arsenal. Clothing stores can appeal to customers on a tactile level – laying clothes out on tables will encourage your customers to touch them.
8. Be exclusive.
Rather than having a cluttered shop floor, consider introducing minimalist displays, and increasing the amount of floor space. Having a few items on display – one shoe on a plinth, for example – creates an air of exclusivity, and can persuade customers to make a purchase. Take inspiration from brands such as ultra-minimalist Apple – their stores are radically different from other computer companies.
Trial and error is the best way to develop your store’s optimum layout – make one change at a time, before analysing the effect it has on sales. Some small business owners believe that influencing customers through shop layout is difficult and expensive. However, this isn’t the case – many of the above suggestions can be carried out on a tight budget.
Anne Haimes of AH Interiors is an interior designer based in Henley-on-Thames, England. She has over 20 years’ experience designing both client homes and her own popular retail shop.