A lot of small businesses these days operate out of the home, with the bulk of business being done online. Sometimes, this is just the most efficient way to generate sales and manage your business, especially if it’s not conducive to a brick-and-mortar operation. But if you’re launching a company that’s going to involve at least one retail location, there are a lot of components that are going to factor into your success.
To an extent, your store design and layout will depend on the products and services you offer. A shoe store, a massage parlor, and an art studio will pretty much never look anything alike, though each could be set up flawlessly for its own needs. But speaking more generally, the following concepts should help you figure out the right goals and ideas for setting up your store.
1. Prioritize Access
You’ve heard before that “location” plays a huge role in the success of a business, and it absolutely bears repeating. An article at LinkedIn covers the idea of location pretty thoroughly, explaining the need to research and cater to your target demographics, getting a feel for your neighboring tenants and nearby competition, etc. But an important thing to add to that discussion is access. Naturally the best locations are pricier, but if you can manage it, you want to set up shop in a place that’s easy for customers to see and get to. If you’re in a mall, try not to be hidden away in a back corner somewhere. If you’re in a roadside shopping center, try to be near an entry point and parking lot. In short, make your business available.
2. Position Merchandise Strategically
Assuming you have some merchandise to sell in your in-person location, there’s a great deal of psychological strategizing to do as you determine how and where to place it. Quickbooks gathered a number of helpful tips from experts regarding this idea and produced some fascinating suggestions: merchandise too close to the entrance is often ignored by customers; customers often turn to the right when they enter a store; and attention-grabbing displays can serve as “speed bumps,” stopping customers in the midst of their browsing and keeping them from moving too quickly through your store.
3. Don’t Hide From Your Customers
This is partially a tip for how to conduct sales, but it also has a lot to do with the design and layout of your store. The aforementioned Quickbooks article points out that having too much in the way of counter space creates both a physical and psychological barrier between employees and customers. You may not be able to do away with counters altogether, but you can eliminate their use as primary points of sale. According to Worldpay, you can effectively move the payment process away from the counter and take it out into your store through the use of portable card swiping and digital pay machines. You certainly don’t want employees bothering customers. However, enabling them to move freely throughout the store makes them more available to answer questions or help with purchases. This can go a long way when it comes to customer satisfaction.
4. Provide Seating
Finally, it’s often a good idea to provide customers with places to sit as they browse or, depending on your products, as they check out items they’re considering purchasing. It can be difficult to provide much seating in a smaller shop, but even a few stools here and there can make browsers much more inclined to spend time in your shop and consider its offerings. Additionally, you’re likely to do better with parents whose children might otherwise grow tired of walking or standing and thus force the parents out of the shop! You don’t want people lounging around all day of course, but making people comfortable and presenting an inviting interior certainly won’t hurt.
Sara Upton is a freelance writer who enjoys covering anything related to business, technology, and healthy living. You can find her on Twitter under the handle @saraupton33.