Contrary to what an interior designer may tell you, choosing the perfect floor plan for your space is more science than art. A well designed store can increase your sales and foot traffic while helping to display your best items in the most traveled areas. Follow our suggestions below to choose the best floor plan for your store.
The size and shape of your store will affect its design, but there are three layouts that are typically used: the Grid Layout, the Loop Layout, and the Free Flow Layout.
The Grid Layout has the fixtures parallel to the walls and is commonly seen in grocery or big box stores. This grid system allows the customer to begin in one corner of the store and navigate each and every isle while shopping. An added benefit of the Grid Layout is that end caps and outposts can be used effectively to draw attention to special promotions or sales.
The Loop Layout features a racetrack aisle that circles the entire store. The interior and exterior of the main aisle will feature different sub-layouts, which allows for the maximum exposure to products on perimeter walls. Wal-Mart and Best Buy are examples of stores that effectively use the Loop Layout.
Free Flow Layout
The Free Flow layout is the most common type of layout for specialty or small retailers. It also allows for the most creativity, which can generate a unique feeling for your brand that will keep customers returning. In a Free Form Layout, there are no set isles or straight lines. This encourages shoppers to move freely throughout the store where they will be exposed to various products and displays. A Free Form Layout can come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common incorporate diagonal, angular, geometric, and mixed floor plans.
Choosing the Right Layout
To determine which layout will work best, start by measuring your store and drafting a schematic of the floor. Be sure to include all columns, doors, bathrooms and service areas. Insert different designs into your schematic to determine what gives you the most amount of display space without hindering the traffic of your customers. Don’t forget that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires a minimum space of 3’ 6” between fixtures, so be sure to leave enough room so that all of your customers will feel comfortable.
Once you have settled on a layout, experiment with it to ensure that featured displays or walls are visible in high traffic areas. Most importantly, do not become attached to your fixture placement or design, as it may be necessary to adjust the layout based upon the preferences of your customers. For example, if you notice that shoppers routinely pass over a section of the store, it may require you to alter your floor plan to make the flow into the section more natural or appealing.