What Are the 4 Main Types of Store Layouts?

Store layout design has a huge impact on your customers’ happiness and your business’s success across multiple locations. It’s crucial to tailor retail spaces to the number and sort of products you offer, the space available, and the type of shopping experience you want your stores to give shoppers. Four of the most popular retail store designs are the grid layout, the herringbone layout, the loop or racetrack layout, and the free-flow layout, all of which can provide different benefits for your business.

The 4 main types of store layouts

The Grid Layout

The grid layout, also known as the supermarket layout or the straight floor plan, is the most common way retailers lay out their products. The design features a series of parallel aisles. One or more perpendicular aisles intersect the parallel aisles in larger stores, allowing shoppers to switch aisles easily without walking too far. You can organize your products into clear categories and predictable patterns by setting up your stores according to the grid layout.

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Who Uses the Grid Retail Store Design?

Stores that stock many different products tend to opt for the grid layout because its design makes inventory management easier and more efficient. Grid layouts are also a smart choice if you want to use your ample space best. You’ll see grid layouts in drug stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, hardware stores, office supply stores, and electronics stores.

Pros of the Grid Layout:

  • It’s easy to navigate:¬†Customers can easily find what they are looking for because of the intuitive and segmented way products are displayed.
  • Signs can guide customers:¬†Businesses can hang signs above each parallel aisle explaining which products customers can find in the aisle.
  • Merchandising opportunities are plenty:¬†Retailers can set up multiple endcap displays and power walls to grab attention and showcase new, featured, or discounted products.

Pro tip:¬†Add a power wall to your customers’ right at your stores’ entrance. Research suggests¬†most Americans immediately look to their right¬†when they walk into a space.

Cons of the Grid Layout:

  • Flexibility is limited:¬†A grid layout is rigid and fixed, so new ideas for shopper experiences or promotional displays have to fit within its set of parallel lines.
  • It’s the same old, same old:¬†Because of how common it’s become, shoppers may feel less excited, intrigued, or engaged in stores with a grid layout.
  • Grids limit line of sight:¬†Shoppers can only see products to their immediate left and right, so it’s harder for retailers to divert their attention to specific sections.

The Herringbone Layout

The herringbone layout is similar to the grid layout, but it’s optimized for long, narrow spaces. One central aisle runs down the length of the store, with smaller, shorter aisles branching off on either side, like a cartoon drawing of a fish bone. Shoppers typically pay at the end of this long, central aisle ‚ÄĒ where the head of the fish would be.

Who Uses the Herringbone Retail Store Design?

Clothing retailers and boutiques often use the herringbone layout with mannequins dotted along the central aisle to showcase featured products. Smaller hardware stores, home decor depots, specialty food markets, and antique shops also frequently choose the herringbone layout.

Pros of the Herringbone Layout:

  • It’s stylish:¬†The herringbone setup’s association with high-end boutiques and clothing shops gives the space a feeling of modernity and sophistication.
  • It facilitates discovery:¬†As shoppers walk down the center lane, they can see into each aisle and notice each endcap display, encouraging a diversity of purchases.
  • Organization and variety work together:¬†Like the grid layout, the herringbone style lets retailers display a wide range of products in an ordered, easy-to-maintain way in smaller spaces.

Cons of the Herringbone Layout:

  • Traffic jams can happen:¬†Customers can become clustered around popular sections, leading to a cramped feeling and less opportunity to make sales.
  • Security may need a boost:¬†Stores would benefit from security cameras in the herringbone layout as employees have a limited view of the offshoot aisles from the front.
  • It may cost more to set up:¬†Owners who want their stores laid out in the herringbone style may need to invest more in customizing the space, especially if side aisles are set at an angle.

The Loop or Racetrack Layout

The loop or racetrack layout is an excellent option for store owners who want to control customers’ inventory experience. One oval-shaped aisle loops around a central hub of products, with shoppers ‚Äúmaking a lap‚ÄĚ of the entire store while they browse. Products line the outer walls of the loop, while you can customize the middle of the circuit according to the journey you want to take your customers on.

Who Uses the Loop or Racetrack Retail Store Design?

Stores that offer a wide range of product types, like department stores and big-box retailers, often use the racetrack layout. The design exposes shoppers to the full spectrum of goods on offer, which is why pop-up shops also use loops to display their goods. This all-in-one shopping experience encourages shoppers to see all your products and buy things they may not have considered in a grid or herringbone layout.

Pros of the Loop or Racetrack Layout:

  • Impulse purchases are more likely:¬†Shoppers traverse your entire inventory as they browse, giving them more opportunities to pop unplanned purchases in their carts.
  • Customers stay in the store longer:¬†Completing a lap takes time, increasing shoppers’ time in your stores and thus the potential for sales.
  • Stores feel spacious:¬†A broad, meandering aisle encircling a cluster of product displays gives the store a spacious and comfortable feel.

Cons of the Loop or Racetrack Layout:

  • Featured products are a challenge:¬†The racetrack layout does not include endcaps or structural focal points, so highlighting specific promotions requires innovation and creativity.
  • Customers have to travel further:¬†Shoppers who’ve visited your stores for one or two specific items will have to walk the length of the track to find them, which some may appreciate less than others.
  • Shoppers may miss central products:¬†Customers could neglect to browse the central product hub if it isn’t cleverly and engagingly laid out.

The Free-Flow Layout

Free-flow store layouts are true to their name ‚ÄĒ they let you decide exactly how you want your shoppers to navigate the space and experience your products. These highly customizable designs can range from large open spaces peppered with plinths and racks to a combination of more rigid layouts like a herringbone-racetrack hybrid.

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Who Uses the Free-Flow Retail Store Design?

High-end fashion retailers, art galleries, specialty or niche retailers, and other concept stores often appreciate the freedom the free-flow design affords them. Tech showrooms also use this highly customizable design to tailor visitors’ experience around featured products. In general, stores with less merchandise tend to lean toward free-flow designs.

Pros of the Free-Flow Layout:

  • It’s personalized for your customer base:¬†You can lay out your stores to suit your specific clientele, whether they enjoy exploring nooks and crannies or wide open spaces.
  • Featuring products is easy:¬†Free-form layouts are a great backdrop for directing customer attention because you can set up displays however and wherever possible.

Cons of the Free-Flow Layout:

  • Shoppers may need more guidance:¬†If the space is not laid out logically, shoppers may not know where to find what they want.
  • Space could be better optimized:¬†Free-form store layouts need to cleverly position their products so they don’t waste space for the sake of bespoke design.

Brick-and-Mortar Stores Trust FranConnect’s Software

Businesses with stores in multiple locations need software they can rely on to manage their sales, performance, brand consistency, and other crucial data.¬†FranConnect helps grow your brand¬†with innovative technology that optimizes and streamlines multi-location retailers’ most pivotal processes. Contact us to¬†request a demo from our experts¬†or¬†start a conversation about elevating your brand¬†today.

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