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t’s Father’s Day, and the product table at the front of the store is besieged by hordes of women desperately vying for that last minute gift.

Even though cut-price shaving kits are all that’s left, the melee is backing up the human traffic something awful. The usually serene fruit and veg aisle is beginning to take on the look of a polling station in downtown Mogadishu, although far less organised. Children are screaming and grandmothers are flustered by not being able to access the queue for weighing their goods.

This is but one example of what can happen when managers of a retail store have not thought through the layout and design of the outlet.

Even on days marking annual events like Father’s Day, Mother’s Day or religious holidays, it is essential that store owners and managers keep in mind that the store’s layout should always flow, as this thedetermining factor in how customers shop.

While it is recommended that “specials” or products associated with an event have pride of place in the store, there is a way to do this without jeopardising a pleasant shopping environment.

Rather than cutting off access points to aisles, a section of the store could be cordoned off so that customers can be channeled to the product table in an orderly fashion. Not only will customers be able to seek alternative roots to the section of the choice, but the product table will invariably gain the attention of some shoppers who might not have been interested otherwise.

Even the cashier points have a part to play. In fact, many of the more successful stores have cottoned on to the fact that the tills are the place to place the most enticing products. Increasingly cashier points are places where chocolates, savoury snacks and interesting magazines have pride of place – an enticing treat to tempt shoppers as they stand in the queue.

It is also important to maximise every square foot of the premises.

Say for example an area is lacking in sales. The solution is to place as many products on the floor as possible, comprising a good mix of high and low priced goods. It is also a good idea to give high-priced items more retail space, where low-price goods can be stacked on a fixture to place more products on the floor.

At the end of the day, as a store owner or manager you want your customers to come away with a positive response. For many, a simple trip to the shops can be a cause of great anxiety, as they do not wish to jockey for position with other customers.

The key is to get an excellent mix of open space and product placement, so that customers will want to stay longer and buy more.

Assignment3, South Africa’s leading signage and printing company, is a master at advising store owners what layout will best work for them


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