Tuesday 17 November 2015


The countdown to Christmas continues and we’re down to less than six weeks. By now your shop window should be in so what next?  Stopping your customers from walking past your shop window is a given but now we need to take them on a journey through your shop door.

Firstly, we need a bit of preparation, namely some discreet customer observation. This exercise works best if you sketch out a basic plan of your shop and at various times throughout the day/week mark the customer journey with a small arrow or cross for each customer observed. Don’t assume anything just observe and record.

How do your customers shop your shop? How do they approach your front door, what do they do when they first enter and where do they go next? Where do they stop, what do you think they look at, what happens just before they leave and at the point of exit?  By the end of this exercise you will have a clear indication of your typical customer journey. I cannot stress enough how important this information is to the success of your retail business.

Think of the customer journey like reading a short story, the title page (shop window), contents (first display point), the middle chapters (product categories) and the final chapter (cash and wrap counter). This will help you to devise an optimum route plan for your customers. Combine this with good merchandising (next week’s task) and you will increase sales.
  1. Shop window - the front cover of your Christmas story. Make it stand out with rich visual content, a real attention grabber and if you can, give it a title.
  2. Shop entrance - make it obvious, planters, Christmas trees or other props outside the entrance will help direct customers to the door and if you really want to do something different have a look at this blog from the archive.
  3. Entrance area - keep the space inside the front door free from clutter and remove all unnecessary messages from your shop door. Customers need a clear view in and out.
  4. First display point – your contents page and a continuation of your shop window. This needs to be highly visible from your shop door. Think of it as a visual representation of your Christmas retail offer and a chance for you to excite and inspire your customers. Get them wanting more!
  5. Hot spots – the areas identified by your customer observations where customers naturally gravitate to, regardless of what’s on offer. These are the chapters to your story, your product category leaders and, like a story, should follow a logical route with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. Make these areas bright, merchandise them with your best sellers and refresh them on a regular basis. Most of all these areas need space for browsing and passing traffic.
  6. Slow selling space – every story has sections we want to skip through and your shop is much the same. You probably already know the areas in your shop that generate poor sales. The obvious ones can usually be found just inside the front door, just past the cash and wrap area and sometimes the corners. This doesn’t mean these shop fittings can be left empty but on no account put your best sellers in these areas
  7. A happy ending – we’ve come to the end of your story and customer journey, make this count. This area is often overlooked but this is where you have the chance to surprise your customers and leave them with something to remember you by.
  8. Circulation routes – customers will naturally gravitate towards open space or wider aisles. User this principle to guide your customers to the areas you want them to go. An open space or wide aisle visible from the entrance will encourage more customers to step over the threshold and into your shop.
  9. Angled or straight – if you have the luxury of centre tables or shop fitting units placing them at forty-five degrees will create a bigger visible area to attract customers. This can be really effective for creating interest and increasing sales but the downside is you need more space. If you look at the plan below you can see how a regimented layout will increase the number of shop fittings you can include and still leave plenty of space for customers to browse. If you’re short on space this is the only option to take.

These are a few basic tips, a lot will depend on your type of business, available space, and product mix but, whatever your retail offer these basic principles still apply. Next week it’s all about fine tuning your merchandising  plan.

All the best

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