The Beginner’s Guide To Organizing Your Retail Store

Few sights are more exciting for a new retail business owner than the first view of that professional-looking commercial property -- at least from the outside. The interior may be an empty concrete space, or if you do have shelves left over from the previous tenant, those shelves may not positioned in any order whatsoever. How do you transform this "blank slate" into both a rewarding shopping experience for customers and a moneymaking machine for your own business? Here are some tips for organizing your store.

Adopt a Strategic Floor Layout

A shopping trip is a journey, which means that it should have a clear starting point, follow a sensible route and come to a satisfying conclusion. If you've never laid out a retail area before, you may wonder where in the world to start. It helps to realize that, while you want your shoppers to be able to find their way without a lot of confusion, you also need them to peruse the store so impulse buying can take effect. That's why you want to position your staple products (those items that are always on the top of your customers' regular shopping lists) away from the entrance and far apart from each other. This ensures that there's no way your customers can get to those all-important items without also glimpsing other attractive products along the way. Display your high-profit items to the right of the entrance; since shoppers tend to follow a counterclockwise path on their journey, this is likely to be the first place shoppers look.

Use Signage to Show the Way

Even the most logically organized retail space can seem confusing to a first-time shopper -- and when your business first opens its doors, everyone will be a first-time shopper. But whether you've been open for a day or a year, you need to create and hang the appropriate signage to herd the buying public helpfully through your layout, allowing them to find what they came for or discover new, exciting products and deals. If you have a large space with lots of aisles, consider hanging large overhead signs identifying different departments. On the other end of the scale, tabletop signage can draw the eye toward new items or featured sales. 

The quality of the signage is just as important as its placement. Re-using old, faded or torn signage represents false economy; the poor impression it conveys will make the item it's promoting seem undesirable while also reflecting poorly on your store as a whole. Craft new signage on a regular basis, making use of short, clear, precise statements in easy-to-read fonts and bold, contrasting colors for maximum visibility.

Allow for (Some) Clutter

As appealing as those wide, pristine aisles might be to a customer pushing a cart through a retail space, they don't necessarily inspire spontaneous sales -- on the contrary, they can permit established customers to zip through your store, fulfilling their "regular run" without ever stopping to consider new possibilities. Additionally, a spic-and-span retail floor can sometimes give the impression of an upper-class (and therefore expensive) store, whereas the occasional end table or pallet stacked with enticing goods projects more of an affordable "warehouse" ambience. Experiment with these psychological effects by positioning occasional "accident displays" of unusual or seasonal items here and there. But don't block the aisles or create a distressingly cramped shopping experience, or your regular crowd may desert you.

Consider Selling from Bulk Bins

Do you sell food products that lend themselves to storage and display in bulk bins? These containers allow customers to purchase whatever quantity they want by scooping it out of the container and paying by weight. Bulk bins can be highly attractive to economy-minded shoppers who want to control their expenses to the penny. They also appeal to environmentally conscious shoppers who like the idea of buying the food without also buying into wasteful methods of packaging. Better yet, presenting your goodies in clear bulk bins makes them irresistible to buyers who might not normally have those items on their shopping lists -- and by buying those foods in bulk for resale, you can enjoy fatter profit margins.

As you can see, smart store and product organization can help you get your new retail store off to a roaring start. Give these tips a try -- and get ready to do business! Click here for additional info about outfitting and laying out your new store.