Why optimizing retail store layout is crucial?

September 13, 2023 | Retail

Retail stores offer an assortment of challenges for attracting buyers. From what items to stock to how many staff should be on the floor at all times, retail shop owners make a lot of decisions. However, one of the most overlooked aspects of a retail store is the layout. A good layout will get customers in, let them examine everything a store has to offer and checkout easily. However, finding a good layout can be a lot of work, especially if you have an oddly shaped space. Luckily, we’re here to help. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about selecting the right layout for your retail store.

Store Design

A store’s design will ideally showcase everything you have stocked to all your products, or at least pathways connecting everything. A good store design will fit the space as well, allowing small shops to stock as much as possible without feeling cluttered while large shops will be able to look full—even with minimal product.

Customer Flow

Customer flow is thrown out a lot when talking about retail store layouts, but what exactly is it? In short, it’s the number of customers who walk into the store and how they walk around. Most stores will monitor their customer flow to ensure products are getting viewed and see where dead areas (those with little to no traffic) are so they can adjust as necessary.

By examining your existing customer flow, you’ll be able to see exactly where your customers go so you can arrange your products accordingly. It can also help you decide how much you need to stock. Besides space, the main thing you need to keep in mind is your customer flow.

Why does the layout of a store affect product sales?

You might be thinking that your store’s layout is fine, or that this seems unnecessary. However, proper layouts have been shown to:

  • Improve inventory turnover – A good layout will get customers to cover nearly every section of your store that’s open to them, allowing them to look at your offerings.
  • Improve use of space – With the right layout, you can stock your store with a number of products your customers may be interested in. On the flipside, you can avoid an overly cluttered or messy appearance by spacing your products out.
  • Improve environment – Your store will reflect your brand’s image and values because you are making its layout match what you’re trying to make your customers feel. For example, a minimalist layout for spa products or lots of clothing racks for a discount store.

Planning store layouts that maximize your space

The main thing when looking at layouts is to ensure it’s the right layout for your store. We’ll discuss exactly what each layout is in the next section, but you probably won’t want to put a free-flow layout in a large store while a grid isn’t going to work for a small store. You’ll need to take into consideration your space when deciding which layout to use.

Top 7 types of retail layout

While there are technically an unlimited amount of store layouts you can choose from, there are seven that are most likely to be used. Read more about each one and what it’s great for below.

Forced path

Forced path designs force customers to go down a predesigned path. This method is utilized in stores like Ikea, forcing customers to go through the whole store. While it’s excellent for getting people to look at products, it does not make for an easy checkout experience as customers must finish walking through the store to checkout.


A straight layout is a basic design plan that lets people see a large variety of products. However, it is also quite space effective meaning it can be used in smaller stores who wish to sell more product. The main thing with this layout is to recognize that it requires a fair amount up upkeep because it allows a large amount of product to be fully on display.


Angular layouts are actually curved, letting customers explore the store with rounded displays and fixtures. Displays are almost always free-standing, meaning you get a cleaner, more relaxing experience. This layout is best for small boutiques and luxury stores.


This is a fun layout for those looking to get creative with their store. Store owners use geometric shapes of various sizes in their design scheme, allowing for customers to explore the store. However, this layout will only allow a limited amount of product to get displayed and is best for tech or creative endeavors in a small space.


The grid is used by most stores with a large amount of products because it allows each product to be displayed. Customers will see products on every wall in the store followed by grid aisles in the middle that people can peruse. This is the most common layout for grocery and discount stores because they can fit so much product in. However, you will not be able to create a customer experience with this design.


The loop is relatively self-explanatory. Customers simply travel in a loop to look at products. Retailers can put products on both sides of the loop for maximum exposure. However, this layout only works for larger stores.


Free-flow layouts are basically anything you want them to be. Want rounded displays next to grids all in a big loop? You can do it with a free-flow layout! The main problem with this is that you will likely need to go through several trial-and-error layouts before finding one that works. Most retailers who utilize this design method will select a layout from the other six options above but change the types of displays used to stay on brand.

Selecting your store’s layout may feel like a monumental task, but once you know what you’re doing, it couldn’t be easier. Simply take the time to select the right layout for your space size and get to work creating your dream store.

Retail Consulting Services

We believe that retailers should evolve at the same or faster pace to remain on top of the consumer market and meet the expectations of an ever-changing clientele. Ollen Group is one of the leading retail management consultant firms in the Middle East & Africa region (MEA) offering retail design services with turnkey solutions from strategy to execution. Our retail business consultant will help your through your journey.

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