Anatomy of a Functional Retail Space

clothing store

When it comes to designing your new retail space, there are lots of things to consider. And if you do some research and dig deeper, you will find that there is actually a science to it. This scientific approach has to do with dividing your store into zones based on customer intent and human psychology. Let our Maryland commercial construction experts show you what these zones are and how to use them to build a successful store.

Decompression Zone

Decompression zone is typically the first few feet of space a customer experiences as he or she walks into your store. This space is meant to allow customers to adjust to their new surroundings and make the first impression of your store. As a customer walks in, you don’t want to start greeting or selling them right away. Give them some space to look around and find something they want to check out first. Avoid cluttering the decompression zone with product displays—most customers walk past by them anyway.

Welcome Zone

Welcome zone is the space where the first contact between a customer and a sales associate usually happens. This is where a customer may get approached, greeted, offered help, etc. It’s important to not over-greet the customer, which requires close coordination of efforts among the sales associates. No one likes to feel like they are being stalked or constantly interrupted as they browse your store.

Main Floor

The main floor is where the sale happens… or doesn’t. What you sell and what customers are looking for are big parts of a successful sale. However, not being able to find things easily, as well as having to push your way though the crowds are often deal breakers. When designing the layout of your store, consider using the following rules for the main merchandise display area:

  • Make sure there is enough lighting all throughout the store, unless you are going for a cave-like Hollister vibe.
  • Avoid placing too much merchandise in one area. The more items are on a shelf or rack, the longer it will take people to browse, the more people will eventually gather there and get in each other’s way.
  • Leave enough room for pathways and move items that keep customers busy toward the walls where there is less traffic.
  • Don’t block your merchandise by signs, mannequins or large display stands—check the sight lines from every angle to make sure everything is easy to find.

This main store area is also often referred to as a “no-follow zone.” This means that your sales associates should leave customers alone in this area, unless assistance is requested or suspicious behavior is suspected.

Checkout Counter

Checkout counter is where the customer will end their journey if they found what they wanted. This is also where your sales staff spends the majority of their time. Make sure your checkout counter offers enough room on both sides, so that both customers and store employees feel comfortable. Your initial instinct may be to load the counter with impulse buys, but think twice before you do this. It may work at a convenience store, but it won’t have the same effect at a high-end boutique. Some customers will get overwhelmed with the abundance and will ignore the product display all together.

Need a commercial remodeling company to help you implement all these zones in your new retail space? Contact Northstar Commercial Construction today for a consultation!


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