Retail Layouts

Your guide to the best retail layouts

Your store’s layout can make or break your business. A poor layout will impede your customer’s navigation through the aisles, making it difficult and frustrating.


First and foremost, you should create a space where your customers want to be. See your shop through the eyes of your customer and you shouldn’t go too far wrong. So, is there one optimum retail floor plan that you should adopt?

The short answer would be no. The layout of your shop will largely depend on the type of business that you run. Are you a high-end boutique or a deli? Do you rely on seasonal promotions? Your floor plan will be influenced by your answer to these questions.

Whatever your business, there are some objectives that will remain the same, however. You’ll want to promote up-sell and create a seamless shopping experience for your clientele. Of course, your business might span all of these things, in which case you shouldn’t be afraid to try each approach to decide which floor plan works for you.

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Grid floor plan

Good for?

Supermarkets, Hardware Stores, Newsagents and Delis


This typical retail store layout is a pretty familiar one for customers, which can only help with providing a seamless shopping experience for them. It’s designed for stores that tend to sell a higher volume of low-value goods like a food shop, Newsagent or Hardware store – everyday essentials which need to be located with ease, both to avoid frustrating the shopper and for a hassle-free transaction.

Here’s how to make it work for you…

The Grid Floor Plan utilises both the wall and shop floor areas to ensure that no space is wasted. Shelves run in straight, parallel lines to create symmetrical aisles. The tills are usually located at the entrance or exit. This space-saving floor plan is a great solution for small shops, which is why corner shops, newsagents and delis often adopt this layout.

What to watch out for…
  • Typically, the Grid Floor Plan isn’t that visually exciting so think carefully about how to pique your customers’ interest with how you arrange your store’s wares.
  • Avoid the temptation to stack your shelves too high. The Grid Floor Plan can easily become oppressive if you try to cram too much into it.
  • This retail store layout doesn’t naturally lend itself to up-sell. It’s designed to cater for a high volume of foot traffic, allowing customers to shop and transact quickly. If you want to showcase all of your wares to your clientele, consider using the Racetrack Floor Plan.

Racetrack floor plan

Good for?

Most stores


A racetrack layout is another good option if space is at a premium. Customers are filtered through a pre-defined pathway so that they see everything on offer on their way to their desired purchase.

Here’s how to make it work for you…

Like the Grid Floor Plan, this utilises the walls and the shop floor to showcase your products and so is great for small retail units. In-store promotions lend themselves perfectly to this layout since it forces your customers to see your special offers during their buying journey, prompting them to make an unplanned purchase.

What to watch out for…
  • This layout can easily frustrate customers who are limited by time. Avoid this layout if your clientele is generally made up of office workers who only want to grab a quick sandwich before going back to work.
  • Think about the sort of things you sell before adopting this floor plan ahead of the more typical Grid Floor Plan. Strictly speaking, are your products everyday essentials? If so, you might be better off choosing an alternative layout. Up-sell usually only applies if you sell things customers want rather than need.

Free form floor plan

Good for?

Clothing Boutiques, Antique shops


The Free Form Floor Plan promotes a more relaxed shopping experience for customers. Although there is no pre-defined floor plan, this layout lends itself perfectly for a one-to-one shopping experience, promoting customer interaction with the shop assistant.

Here’s how to make it work for you…

The beauty of the Free Form Floor Plan is that there’s no hard-and-fast rule for implementation. As long as you’re providing an intimate and free-flowing path for customers to browse and explore at their leisure, you can arrange shelving units and displays any way you wish.

What to watch out for…
  • The Free Form Floor Plan relies heavily on personal selling so if you choose this layout, ensure that your retail staff are skilled at this.
  • If your shop floor is particularly small – or if your product range is especially high – you might want to avoid adopting this layout. Storage and display space are sacrificed in favour of a relaxed, spacious shopping experience.
  • This layout tends to lend itself to lower volume, higher-priced purchases. If your products are generally inexpensive, you may want to opt for the floor plan which is more conducive to up-sell.

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