Planning your store layout for maximum profit illustrates yet again the importance of integration within a retail business, the bringing together of the commercial and the emotional, the marriage of the beauty and the beast.

On the one hand the store needs to be functional and based on sound commercial strategy and decision making whilst on the other hand it needs to be emotional to stimulate additional sales and profit.



The store layout provides “ease of shop” for the seeker and ensures that the correct product is in the correct place taking up the optimum amount of space. In retail “it is always easier to sell to the customer what they want to buy rather than what they don’t” and the correct commercial layout ensures that no easy sales are missed, the ultimate crime of any retailer.

For the browser the store layout must stimulate and entice the customer to buy more than they intended, more of the same and more of different. To do so it must create an emotional experience, a journey that stimulates impulse.

The commercial layout is the plan on which the emotional experience must be built – “putting the right product in the right place – putting the best product in the best place!” The commercial store layout brings together the correct product propositions, with maximum impact in places where they will be seen by as many of the right customers as possible. Through the collaboration of space planning, assortment planning and store design the correct places need to be created in store and within brand, with each space created telling the most appropriate story.

Walls should be used and created to guide the customer through space, to segment the logic of the assortment and crucially to present authority to the customer. Important categories should be displayed on key “power walls” at the end of important sightlines to define the retailer and to create trust and loyalty.

However authority is not enough. The customer requires inspiration and so within the authority of power walls focal points need to be created, which change and stimulate, give ideas and reasons to buy, to explore and to go beyond necessity retailing. Store layouts need to combine walls and floor fixtures to create visual valleys and cascades to frame focal points and give the perfect setting for stimulation.

Finally a store layout must create the urgency to actually buy. Prices, margins and profits are purely theoretical until a customer commits with their hard earned currency and so “strike zones” must be delivered in the store layout where powerful, irresistible messages must be brought into the attention of the customer. “Strike zones” must contain relevant product stories, bold and simple, often connected to promotions with their adjacency to customer traffic essential into turning urgency into profit.

So with a commercial layout in place does this always constitute the perfect customer experience? This begs the question “what is the customer experience?” or more precisely “what constitutes a good customer experience?” The details of what this means to the wide variety of customers who enter any store can be equally diverse however an absolute necessity of the customer experience must be the premise that “it must not fail the customer!”

For a customer on a shopping mission a good experience ultimately is to succeed in their objective of making a purchase, discovering a product, engaging with the brand. Success is the final and only requisite of a good customer experience.


The 4 steps to delivering the customer experience are to identify the shopper missions, to recognise and create the physical journeys within the store, to build and maximise the touchpoints on those journeys and to deliver the emotional triggers that turn every mission into a purchase – the happy customer becomes the happy retailer.


Only the truly integrated retailer can deliver customer experiences. Recognising the missions is the role of customer insight teams, the combination of store personnel feedback and financial sales analysis, the physical journey the job of store designers, planners and merchandisers, the delivery of touchpoints the responsibility of human resource and visual merchandising and the communication of emotional triggers the realm of marketing, communication and customer service training.

And as never before the success of the customer experience can be measured effectively. Whilst traditional POS analysis tells the story of what is happening from traffic to conversion and from sales per basket and transaction values to overall sales breakdown, the use of new technology can now tell a retailer what is not happening inside the store. Video analytics tell the true story of the customer journey, the effectiveness of touchpoints and triggers from attraction and engagement to dwell times and touches.

In modern retail store layouts must transform into customer experiences, product ranges into brand propositions, and this can only be achieved effectively and consistently through the integration of functions.

There is now no excuse not to understand and deliver the store experience your customer wants. For retailers that don’t listen and stores that don’t respond the customer will deliver its verdict, appropriately enough, with their feet.


Our expert workshops:
Store layout & customer experience workshops:

VM-Unleashed’s 1-day workshop discusses all areas in the delivery of attractive & profitable stores through best practice store layout and customer experience planning and the integration between retail functions.

It is personalised to the audience, to the sector and to the job function and objectives of the retailer team present, however most benefit is achieved from an attendance from across retail departments and essentially buying & merchandising, visual merchandising, marketing, space planning, commercial, sales and store operations teams.

The workshop process can also include a day of client store visits and discussions leading to a review in the workshop of the client’s stores, as well as reviews and reference to competitors and current international best practice stores. The workshop itself is a combination of visual stimulation and process insights.

Every workshop is written and delivered to be as relevant and productive for each client as possible including both individual and team exercises and discussions.

The typical agenda is as below, waiting your personal additions and requirements:

    • Creating a commercial layout
    • Varieties and combinations of store layouts
    • Departmental and category location planning
    • Creating power walls, focal points and strike zones
    • Maximising the first 1/3rd of the store
    • Identifying and maximising the customer experience
    • Store layouts & personalised journeys
    • Shopper missions, customer journeys, touch points and emotional triggers
    • VM developing customer touch-points within the store
    • Store analytics to understanding customer experience behaviour

Different modules can be combined to create personalised workshops.

For more information:
+44 (0)7967 609849