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How to Get Creative with Retail Space Optimization

Gondolas and fixtures are the workhorses of retail spaces. They display products and shape the customer journey. But beyond their basic functionality lies opportunities to optimize your store space, and this is where informed design and innovative store strategy meet.

Experimenting with and measuring the returns of various store layouts and configurations based on seasonal offerings, discounts, new products, customer engagement and product visibility is a continual process. It requires planning and data collection to interpret what works best, not to mention gondolas and fixtures that are flexible and durable.

Here are four focuses for developing layout innovations that optimize your store spaces, no matter the footprint.

Start with wayfinding

There’s been a remarkable evolution of retail branded environments over the past decade, as stores leaned into innovative customer experiences, and omnichannel transformed from a buzzword into a foundational need.

Still, stores require a dedicated focus on their most basic reason for existence: Customers go to stores to find and buy things they want and need.

Micro Center_Aisle Markers 1080 X 600
Aisle markers help  both employees and customers navigate and find product for computer and electronics retailer Micro Center.

So, ensure the layout of your gondolas, fixtures, displays and signage makes navigation intuitive. Space optimization includes many nuances, but it starts with fostering easy store navigation and product visibility.

High-demand products require strategic placing that makes them easy to find and ensures there’s ample spacing for customers to move comfortably without bottlenecking. A well-organized system of product placement supports good wayfinding, and those both start with a sound gondola and fixture strategy.


Wall to wall and ceiling down — all space matters

Wall gondolas line your store’s perimeter, creating designated zones for product categories. They offer visibility for high-demand, high-margin products and are ideal for displaying staples, new arrivals or promotional items. Double-sided aisle gondolas channel customer traffic through your store and create designated walkways.

The next step is thinking holistically about sight lines throughout the customer journey. Variations in the size and positioning of your gondolas create a more engaging environment. You can cultivate a visual hierarchy that guides customer attention.

Theragun and TheraFace Pro by Therabody end cap and shelving displays. End caps displays are ideal for promoting customer-product interaction.

Corner gondolas and end caps can maximize space utilization and can be ideal for highlighting special collections or high-margin products. Smaller displays in specific areas can promote customer-product interaction, while taller gondolas can be used for bulkier items or to create a defined shopping path.

Moreover, using vertical space effectively can significantly increase the display and storage capacity of a store. This can be achieved by using tall shelving units, hanging displays or mezzanine levels, allowing retailers to showcase more products without expanding the store’s footprint. If paired with an intuitive system of inventory management, your associates also will appreciate the ease of restocking shelves.


Flexible, modular systems support changing needs

Seasons change and so do customer wants and needs.

Modular and adjustable fixtures and displays can help retailers adapt their store layout to these changing focuses. Whether it’s seasonal — back-to-school, holidays, summer — or a major product launch or a simple store refresh, flexible elements allow for easy reconfiguration, enabling retailers to optimize space for promotions or product assortments.

creative with retail space optimization

Flexibility and experimentation also can lead to new learnings from shopper data. Retailers can use data to identify high-traffic areas — and how and why that traffic changes — as well as products’ varying popularity and underutilized spaces. This then allows you to make informed decisions about layout and product placement. As in, for example, that cool new back-to-school display also inspired impulse purchases of indirectly related products an aisle down.

Analyzing customer traffic patterns, sales data and other metrics can provide valuable insights for optimizing space. And this data is easier to incorporate into your stores when your fixtures are modular and adaptable.


Storytelling and guiding the shopper experience

Flexibility and adaptability also allow for custom décor options that enhance customer engagement. Ideally, specialty fixtures can integrate technology and digital signage or provide space for different displays that increase visual interest and offer unique product presentations.

An engaged customer also creates opportunities for strategic product placement as that pause supports potential interest in complementary items and encourages cross-selling opportunities.

"Often, it's about seeing old things in new ways."

Dynamic décor and fixtures also can create thematic zones where you can curate product collections based on themes or occasions. This enhances the shopping experience and allows customers to visualize how products can be used together.

Standard and predictable uses of fixtures and gondolas are still prevalent in retail. But innovative thinking isn’t always about next-generation technology. Often, it’s about seeing old things in new ways.

Space optimization is always a goal inside stores, and its best practices and solutions evolve just like any other part of the business. Ultimately, the goal is to create a seamless and engaging shopping journey that guides customers towards desired products and fosters brand loyalty.