How to Plan a Store Layout

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Draw up your specialty store's layout to include in your business proposal.
Draw up your specialty store's layout to include in your business proposal. (Image: Necktie Store image by TekinT from Fotolia.com)

If you’re planning to open a new store or wish to remodel your current shop, you’ll need a store layout plan. The goal of any store is to maximize its sales for every square foot of store it operates. Drafting a store proposal will give you a good idea of what you have to get done to make your dream store a reality. You can also consult a professional planning company for help with determining how to set up your shop.

Research the best way to plan your particular store’s layout. Different types of retail shops call for various layouts. For example, a shoe store will have a different design than a grocery store. Books like “Fundamentals of Retailing” by Madaan and “Small Store Survival: Success Strategies for Retailers” by Arthur Andersen can point you in the right direction. BarrDisplay.com also offers layout advice for a variety of shop types.

Plan so that your store can accommodate a long waiting line. Hopefully, your store will be successful enough to at times have a waiting line for the cash register. Make sure that you can accommodate all of your customers in a comfortable way. They won’t want to be crammed next to each other while they’re waiting to purchase an item.

Create aisles that are wide enough to handle all of your shoppers. If you think your store will have more than one shopper per aisle, it should be wide enough to comfortably fit more than one person.

Consider your customers. Anyone walking into your store will want to find what he is looking for as quickly and easily as possible. This is especially true if you’re running a convenience-type store. Shoppers aren’t looking to browse; they know what they want, and a successful store will point them in the right direction. If not, customers may get frustrated and take their business elsewhere.

Contact your local business department to find out about specific zoning and safety laws. You’ll need to abide by local governing rules regarding exits and capacity.

Tips & Warnings

  • Store planning consultants will ask for your business idea and goals, and develop a store plan based on your company. They'll take your current blueprint and respond with a floor plan that they recommend. They'll also provide guidance on which fixtures to use in the store, necessary supplies and even décor. You'll receive a pricing guide as well.
  • While you may want to design your store in a way that will entice shoppers to browse, remember that if your products are not easily accessible and simple to find, you'll be spending a lot of time guiding shoppers around your store. However, you can clearly label where to find certain products while showing off your store's additional products. For example, in a convenience store, clearly identify where necessities such as toothpaste and medicines are, but locate them toward the back of the store. Customers will have to pass by other items on their way to their destination.

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