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Published September 19, 2019
A weekly look at issues facing Wyoming business owners and entrepreneurs from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Susan Jerke, regional director, Wyoming SBDC Network
Congratulations, you’ve made the decision to open a real brick-and-mortar retail store. The main advantage of an independently owned store over online shopping is the opportunity to really connect with customers and give them a chance to touch and try actual products.
According to the Specialty Equipment Market Association, “A physical location deepens trust by its mere physical presence. Consumers associate bricks and mortar with legitimacy. They can engage their seller face to face and work out difficulties or return products that don't meet their expectations.” We are seeing a resurgence of shoppers returning to the streets to seek out and explore new, innovative shops.
There are lots of decisions to make -- signage, ordering inventory, setting up a point-of-sale system and hiring employees. The list goes on and on. Another key decision to make is how to set up your store so the flow of customer traffic generates the most sales. Did you know there is a science to creating that traffic map? Your local Wyoming SBDC Network adviser can outline the most common, effective layout, and I also would challenge you to visit several franchise stores and compare the layout to the descriptions. Observing how people move through a space can literally make or break your business.
Let’s take an imaginary walk through your store. First, enter through your front door and take a critical look at your entrance. Is it in the center of your store? Off to the right or left? The best scenario brings people in at the center or left-hand side as you enter. Offer a “landing” space to allow customers to step in to get their bearings and view your store. Hint: Signage that drops down from the ceiling is very effective at visually helping people quickly find what they are seeking.
After surveying your space, nearly every customer will subconsciously turn and move to the right. What do you see there at the front of your store on your right-hand side? This is your “power wall.” Ideally, the merchandise should be your top-dollar, brand-new merchandise that will excite people to explore further. Incidentally, 46 percent of all sales are made in this area.
From the right, your customers will typically move back to the center as they travel to the rear of the space. It could be termed a “speed bump” that also is a hot spot where 35 percent of sales are made. Think of a mall department store -- the “bling” is in the front and center, and down the middle aisle. That’s where the jewelry displays and perfume counters are located. It can be interactive and is a great spot to have a salesperson to chat about the products. What is your hot seller? It should be here.
Finally, the path moves to the left and rear of the store. Often, sale and clearance items are back in this area. It is still a prime spot for sales as 15 percent to 38 percent of sales are made in this area.
Two major areas are not mentioned in this journey through your store -- the front left and the back right. What should you do in those spots? They are great for checkout counters or sitting areas for shopping companions. From either vantage point, the entire store can be seen at once. This gives salespeople an opportunity to engage face to face with the customer at all times and also deters theft. Sales tend to be lower, but there are opportunities for impulse purchases as they are quieter areas of the store.
Try these ideas in your space. The goal is to slow down the shopper and move more merchandise. I’d love to hear how you’ve arranged your retail space and how it impacts your sales.
The Wyoming SBDC Network offers business expertise to help Wyoming residents think about, launch, grow, reinvent or exit their businesses. The Wyoming SBDC Network is hosted by UW with state funds from the Wyoming Business Council and funded, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email email@example.com, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.