How you layout your store is also a form of visual merchandising, it helps people navigate but it can also create good buying habits. A floor plan must be made with both the shopper and the marketing plan in mind. Who is going to shop your store? What are you going to carry? How will you restock your shelves? Do you need to be sensitive to seasonal changes? These are just some of the questions that you need to answer. Everything hinges on your ability to clearly identify your target and your mission after which most questions and problems will answer themselves. Review the floor plan layout strategies here to help you decide which one best meets your target customers needs.
Grid floor plans
Grid layouts are linear designs with fixtures arranged on parallel isles. Fixtures are often positioned in a checkerboard pattern, with vertical and horizontal aisles that run throughout the store. This is a simple and efficient use of space and creates natural sight lines typically seen in men’s stores. *(Click on image to enlarge)
Free flow floor plans
Free-flowlayouts are arranged to encourage a feeling of browsing and the thrill of the hunt. It is sort of like creating little mini areas of interest within the floor plan as a whole. A major concern though is allowing enough room for browsing and still maintaining a sense of some order. This sort of layout is typically seen in a woman's boutique as women generally like the thrill of the hunt. *(Click on image to enlarge)
Loop floor plan
Loop layouts feature a race track like feel. This is usually very effective in a larger off price or discount stores. It allows for maximum merchandise to be seen and browsed effectively and offers the retailer to build on products as customers move ahead. *(Click on image to enlarge)
Soft isle floor plan
Soft isle layouts use arranged fixtures into groups, with 5 foot aisle along the merchandise wall sections. This technique encourages customers to shop the walls and to move easily around the entire store. Walls are considered to be the most important sales generating locations in the store layout strategy. You see this sort of approach used in sporting goods stores as men need more obvious visual cues to motivate them to shop. *(Click on image to enlarge)
Good merchandisers can often employ several layers of techniques to create a truly great use of space, and still stayed focused on the bottom of line of sales. The merchandise you sell is an important consideration. How will they first see it? How will the customer need to interact with it? How do you want them to interact with it?
Using Symmetrical and Asymmetrical approaches
Creating creative visual merchandising that engulfs the viewer is a multilevel task. Consider the example below from www.techexchange.com it at once utilizes a symmetrical approach on the back wall and a nicely balanced asymmetrical floor plan in front. This technique is employed by virtually all of the big chain clothing stores such as the Gap, Macy's, and H&M. *(Click on image to enlarge)
This rather simple strategy is often forgotten by smaller retailers. Adjacencies used properly can give you add on sales and aid in cross merchandising. More importantly it can help get the customer past the front door. Remember to group things together that have an obvious connection. *(Click on image to enlarge)
Using a Plan-o-gram
A plan-o-gram is a useful communication tool. Using a plan-o-gram layout like the one shown here allows you to visually refer to something when trying to develop a strategy. This visual reference point is a good way to effectively communicate with both your department managers and employees as to what your goals are.
*Notice how there is an effective mix of both fixture hardware, graphics, and props all working together to further the “sports team” theme. This sort of layout would be seen in a sporting goods store like say Models and would be used with a soft isle layout. *(Click on image to enlarge)