Biz Features

How to Lead Shoppers Through Your Store

by . December 10th, 2014

By Hongmin Zhang

Hongmin Zhang is a content contributor for Udizine Store.

When we talk about store layout, we will naturally be reminded of IKEA’s famous (and somewhat aggressive) one-way layout. It may be a bit too much for a smaller retail store to emulate, but the underlying principle is an excellent one and should be considered if you’re looking to optimize your retail design layout.

Designing a smooth way to naturally lead shoppers to explore the entire store, in order to maximize the exposure of items to shoppers and therefore maximize sales, should be the objective of every retailer.

As a retail store owner, you may not be able to do exactly as IKEA does, however, you can learn from them and adopt their strategies to your own store’s design. If your store layout is proactively designed to guide the eyes of shoppers, shoppers will follow the layout voluntarily and explore more of the products you offer.


Draw them in.

Your store’s window display is the first impression the customer will have with your store. The items you choose to be displayed in the window should draw shoppers’ attention – so make sure they boldly stand out. You may consider some colorful decorations or create unique themed displays.

Your window display should also represent your brand and convey the messages you want to communicate to your potential customers. The displayed items’ style should reflect your store’s personality. For example, if you are a store that caters to an older, wealthier clientele, then make sure that the products you choose to display reflect their tastes (ie. Not a mannequin of a teenager on a skateboard).

Inviting the right shoppers to your store is important, because space is limited. The wrong shoppers may block your store’s circulation with unwanted traffic and decrease wanted traffic.

One of the ways to filter unwanted traffic is to display the price signage in your display window, especially if you want to attract high-end consumers. If your store promotes luxury goods at affordable prices, the price signage will also help to avoid the wrong perception.

The displayed items should also match and go well together. A successful display might lead shoppers to purchase related items as sets.

If your store’s selling point is its competitive prices, then even from the starting point of window display you should make shoppers feel it’s really cheap. Choose a plain design that looks boring and uninteresting. Such design tell people that they will find bargains inside and make shoppers feel they will get the best deal by coming into your store.

*Bonus Tip* – Remember to keep your window displays fresh to attract returning shoppers – you can do this by changing your display every few weeks.



You have won the first battle once shoppers enter your store. Your next challenge is to make them continue further inside without turning around. This entrance area is called the “Decompression Zone”.

It warmly greets shoppers by slowly adjusting them to your store. This area has one thing in common with the storefront display – it must match your store’s character.

If your store sells high-end products, the decompression zone should be spacious with fewer items, which makes shoppers feel that items in your store are special and super valuable. If your store sells discount products, you may display the cheapest items from each category in this section in order for your new shoppers to get a feel for what your store is about.

*Bonus Tip* – Make sure change the displays in this area frequently depending on the season and current shopping trends.


Speed Bumps

Right past the decompression zone are what retailers call “Speed Bumps”. Once shoppers are decompressed/adjusted to your store, you may gradually introduce them to some cool items on your Speed Bumps and rotate them frequently.

*Bonus Tip* – This is great area to display any new items or featured products.


Turn Right

Hit to turn right
The first 3 steps are designed to make your customers feel comfortable and naturally make their way through your store. Did you know that Americans and other consumers who drive on the right side of the road, will also tend to move the same way around a store? They will usually turn right when they enter your store, passing the Decompression Zone and the Speed Bumps as they walk along the first wall.

The second wall on the right is called the “Power Wall”. This is where most retailers should display their most powerful and best-selling products.

The shopping experience is no different from watching a movie; it’s the time for your “protagonist” to appear on the “stage”. The power wall is the place and chance to showcase your store’s creative style in all of its glory.

*Bonus Tip* – If you don’t want to block the left side of your entrance, set up an enticing display on the right side so that shoppers are naturally drawn to that direction.


Merchandise Outposts


Now that shoppers are enjoying their stay in your store; it is much easier to make them buy. As long as your power wall isn’t disappointing, they are less likely to turn their heads when they are already invested in the “plot”. Usually they will continue their journey even if they haven’t found anything that excites them just yet on the power wall.

Along the way make sure to have products displayed near or in the aisles. These fixtures are called “Merchandise Outposts” and they are there to invite shoppers to grab them impulsively. You may put an eye-catching display at the end of an aisle to lead shoppers down there. Even though it’s not as long as IKEA’s path, it is a natural way for you to lead your shoppers and get them to explore your store.

*Bonus Tip* – Merchandise Outposts are great spots to put seasonal products as well as those items that you know your customers are buying time and time again. The easier these products are to find, the happier your customers will be.


Checkout Counter

When shoppers reach the back of your store, they will finally reach the left side. It is best to place the checkout counter on this side near the front of the store. This way, shoppers will continue browsing through items on the left before they exit.

The checkout counter should be treated as the climax of your customer’s shopping experience – as it is the last chance to get them to buy more while they can. Take the opportunity to display something amusing behind the counter. Load up the counter with impulse items customers need but always forget.

*Bonus Tip* – Remember to ask whether they have found everything that they were looking for in your store in case they may still be looking for it, couldn’t find it, and were about to give up.


While waiting

If you have space then add some comfortable seats to create a waiting area, especially for shoppers’ bored children to kill time. Remember to keep the seating facing the products you want to sell.

Even though you can learn a lot from IKEA’s success in terms of effortlessly guiding shoppers around their store, these tactics are not for every store owner. Don’t make your shoppers uncomfortable; feeling as if they are trapped in the middle with no way out.

Make your store as transparent, easily accessible and spacious to browse through as possible by optimizing your retail design. This way, shoppers are comfortably exposed to most of your items without feeling they are being herded around.



Image credits: Rich Renomeron via photopin ccpasukaru76 via photopin ccJD Hancock via photopin ccKeoki Seu via photopin cci k o via photopin cc

About the author


hongminHongmin Zhang is a content contributor for Udizine Store. She enjoys her shopping experiences in well-designed shops. Hongmin only visits shops that provide pleasant shopping experiences. When she shops in a retail store instead of an online one she is looking for a unique and enjoyable shopping experience.

The shop doesn’t need to be luxurious, but it does need to have a different style, one that stands out. Check out more of her work on the Udizine Store blog.


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