Secrets to Good Store Layout

No matter its size or product lines, every retail business must constantly work to create an attractive and inviting shopping environment. Here are a few tips from to keep the customers coming.

1. Make the windows shine – “Just like your eyes are the windows of your soul, store windows are the eyes of the store. Each window should tell a story.”

2. Make an arresting first impression – An eye-catching display at the entrance will slow down customers and get them in the shopping mood.

3. Steer customers to the right – Shoppers tend to prefer to move right and walk counter-clockwise around the store. Make it easy and interesting for them to follow their natural shopping inclinations.

4. Lead them somewhere – Store layout should encourage customers to continue shopping. Eliminate aisles that lead to walls and other dead ends.

5. Have an angle – Create visual interest by placing aisles at angles (if space allows).

6. Create breaks – Shoppers get bored on long aisles – create visual breaks with signs or displays in the middle of long aisles.

7. Offer hugs – Use round and u-shapes on signs, displays and floor layouts. People find these shapes inviting.

One-on-one meetings with the retail consultants of the Virginia Small Business Development Center’s Small Town and Merchant Program can help retail and restaurant owners improve the layout of their businesses. To learn more about environmental influences on consumer behavior, check out Paco Underhill’s books Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, Call of the Mall and What Women Want: The Science of Female Shopping.

“If you don’t have anything else to do, dress up like a hotdog.”

Downtown districts hold events for a variety of reasons:  to raise the identity and up the energy of a district, to earn money for the  downtown organization and to boost retail sales in district stores.  All are good reasons, and the events promote the role of the district as the central convening point in a community.

With that being said, getting everyone on the same page to establish event goals and maximize the collective and individual opportunities is more than a notion.  And, it is just the point of one of the new workshops offered by the Small Town and Merchant Program (STAMP) of the Virginia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network.

Virginia Main Street (VMS) has partnered with the Network over the past two years to offer merchant trainings to designated communities on several topics.  The district-wide trainings for merchants and downtown volunteers combine a community workshop with one-on-one merchant consultations with retail expert Marc Willson.

Wilson recently spoke to a crowd of 50 gathered at the VMS Summer Toolkit to give an overview of the new slate of workshops, including TEAM Eventacular: Town, Events and Merchants Partnering for Profits.  There are many ways merchants can take advantage of events to build their customer base and raise awareness of their businesses, including the strategy of this blog post’s title.

Other titles in the series include the following:

  • Staying Relevant to a Changed Customer
  • Window Signs and Visual Displays: Stewards of Your Brand
  • Restaurateurs – The Experience is Twice as Important as the Food
  • From Bah Humbug to Booming Holiday Sales

For more information on the program, download the brochure.  If you are interested in hosting a training in your Designated Virginia Main Street Community, contact Jeff Sadler.

Small Town and Merchant Program brings relevant resources to downtown merchants

Virginia Main Street continues the partnership with Virginia Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), bringing the Small Town & Merchant Program to traditional commercial districts.

In the workshop, “Staying Relevant to a Changed Customer,” retail expert Marc Willson positions the consumer in the recovering economy and provides real resources and information to help merchants retain existing customers and capture new ones.  He then provides one-on-one retail and restaurant check-ups, tailoring strategies for specific businesses.

Marc Willson brings  35 years of experienceto participating communities.  In 1975, Marc started his retail career as co-owner of the largest distributor of Earth Shoes in the U.S.  Since then he has held executive positions with retailers such as Britches of Georgetowne, Crown Books, Circuit City, The Bicycle Exchange, and Storetrax, Inc.  Most recently, he traveled to Dallas, Texas to open the world’s first energy efficiency store for Current Energy, LLC, a company funded by Ross Perot, Jr. Marc joined the SBDC in 2009 as a Retail Industry Consultant.

For more information on the program, designated Main Street communities should contact Virginia Main Street.  Other communities should work through the local SBDC.