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Top 3 Space Management Tips for Retail During COVID-19

By  Sam Iontton -20/10/2020

The current pandemic has changed the way we shop. After a 66% spike in global daily e-commerce sales during the height of lockdown, online retail sales are still up 7% year on year (Econsultancy). In what has been an incredibly challenging time for retail, with the move to online shopping, brick and mortar stores must adapt to survive.

With Christmas fast approaching, retail stores need to come up with new and innovative ways to entice customers and strengthen customer loyalty. Rethinking your retail layout strategy could enable your store to adapt to our new shopping habits and future-proof your store for the ‘new normal’.

Here are our top space management tips for retail stores to help increase sales while keeping staff and customers safe.

1. Rethink Your Floor Plan

Changing store layout is a long-term strategy which requires careful planning. It’s essential to review customer data alongside Government guidelines before making significant changes. However, customers are looking for reassurance that they can shop safely, and some retail layouts lend themselves well to social distancing.

 

One-Way System Layout

Implementing a one-way system is a bold move and it won’t work for every store, but it’s one that Ikea has successfully implemented for years. Floor sticker signs can help customers navigate a store, whilst acting as a reminder to keep apart. The one-way system helps to avoid over-crowding, giving customers more space to browse aisles and ensuring a steady flow of customers throughout the store.

While this layout encourages customers to view all products which can increase sales, the main draw-back to a one-way system is just that. It is difficult for customers to view a product a second time, so similar products must be grouped for easy browsing.

Grid Layout

The grid layout works well in larger stores and supermarkets. Long aisles, combined with merchandising at the ends of aisles, encourage customers to browse more and purchase additional items. The familiar layout avoids confusion, for stress-free shopping, while typically wider aisles will help to promote social distancing.

The familiarity of the grid layout can also be a draw-back, as it’s unlikely to excite your customers. In the current climate, it’s even more crucial to wow customers with an experiential retail space. For those with a smaller stock, an asymmetrical layout may be more appealing and help your store to stand out from competitors.

Free-Flow Layout

Most useful in luxury retail stores, such as fashion and electronics, the free-flow layout doesn’t direct customers through a store. People can browse freely without feeling hurried or pressured by the presence of other customers. This layout lends itself well to small spaces with less merchandise, to ensure there is plenty of room between products.

The main draw-back of the free-flow layout is the lack of direction, which can be confusing and off-putting for customers. The key to making it work is to pay close attention to customer behaviour in-store. Ensure customers have enough space to social distance by limiting the number of customers permitted in your store at one time. The current Government guidelines advise one customer per 2m2 or one customer per 1m2, where 2m isn’t viable.

 

2. Make Space For Important Signage

It’s essential to make space in your retail store for clear signage to reassure customers. Displaying social distancing and hygiene guidelines at your store entrance and till points can help to direct the flow of customers. Floor sticker signs and hand sanitiser stands should direct customers from the moment they enter your store, allowing them to shop safely.

It’s essential to make space in your retail store for clear signage to reassure customers. Displaying social distancing and hygiene guidelines at your store entrance and till points can help to direct the flow of customers. Floor sticker signs and hand sanitiser stands should direct customers from the moment they enter your store, allowing them to shop safely.

However, in-store signage doesn’t have to be confined to guidelines; it has many more purposes for increasing footfall and sales. Although this new messaging is important in building customer confidence in your brand, promotional signage, such as A-boards and counter-top sign holders, can improve your customers’ shopping experiences.

Use signage throughout your store to:

  • Help customers locate the products they’re looking for
  • Direct customers to key products and offers
  • Motivate customers to make impulse purchases

 

3. Be Creative With Your Retail Displays

With space at a premium, it’s more important than ever to be creative with merchandising. Consider whether your current retail displays maximise the space and display your products in a way that grabs your customers’ attention. Displays in a variety of heights and sizes can draw the eye and create a more visual, interactive experience for shoppers.

In clothing stores, mannequins can be used to display best-sellers, so fewer products need to be out on display. Meanwhile, wall mounted merchandising systems and shelving can help make full use of all available floor space. Merchandise can also be displayed on taller display units with less popular products displayed higher up, to ensure your retail layout doesn’t negatively impact shoppers.

 

What does the future hold for retailers?

Needless to say, the current pandemic has changed the future of retail. However, regardless of COVID-19 brick and mortar stores must work hard to stay ahead of online competitors. By continuing to innovate and create new ways of engaging with customers, retail stores can offer much more than a product; shoppers can buy into a brand experience.

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