Guess what’s changing in Retail Store Layouts?Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender are professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place.

Rich and Georganne are experts on generational diversity, consumer trends, marketing and promotion, and everything retail. They are widely referred to as retail anthropologists because they stalk and study that most elusive of mammals: today’s consumer.

Manthan interviewed Rich & Georganne this week on their views of the latest trends in retail store layouts.

MANTHAN: What are you seeing as a new or recent trend in store displays?

Kizer & Bender:

Customers today have more shopping choices than ever before so if the sales floor doesn’t stack up to their expectations they just go somewhere else. Retailers are realizing that a trip to the store is more than a just trip to the store: it’s an interactive and fun experience. Displays are well thought out so they are irresistible; products are cross-merchandised so that shoppers pick up more than one item. Product is placed in specific locations and fixtures are set so that shoppers don’t miss a thing.

MANTHAN: What key questions does a retail store planner need to ask themselves in order to choose the right store layout?

Kizer & Bender:

Store planners definitely need to know the demographic and psychographics of the store’s customers. They must be familiar with the shopping experience the store’s competition has to offer. Every retailer, large and small, chain and independent, has a brand message. The planner must understand this message; it needs to be visible in the décor and signing throughout that sales floor, exterior, etc. The layout should also reflect what customers expect to find once they enter the front door: plush carpeting, soft lighting, and classical music, for example, won’t cut it in a sporting goods store.

When we do a remodel or a makeover we spend time standing and watching shoppers: where do they naturally go, where do they linger, and what do they avoid? Which displays encourage them to pick up product? We document the behaviors shoppers’ exhibit and use this information in choosing which type of layout to use for that store’s unique foot print.

MANTHAN: What would be your best "freebie advice" for retailers looking to improve their in-store experience?

Kizer & Bender:

Do our “V and the Vista Exercise”: Stand inside your front door just beyond the Decompression Zone (about 5’ inside the store) and spread your arms out at shoulder height with your index fingers extended. What’s inside the V your arms make is called is the Vista – the area that builds a shopper’s first impression of your store. The space inside the Vista needs to be clean, uncluttered and full of not-to-be-missed product. This is where you should place your Speed Bump displays.

The V will help you find your store’s Power Walls. Follow your nose down your right arm to the tip of your right index finger: the wall you are looking at is your front right Power Wall; the most important selling wall in the store – that’s because 90% of shoppers will enter your store and look or turn to the right. We call this wall and the sales floor at the front right lake front property. Use it to feature new, hot and happening product.

Now, follow your nose down your left arm to the tip of your left index finger. This left front Power Wall is also important, display it with as much thought and care as your right front Power Wall. It’s what people see when they make a loop around your sales floor. Like Speed Bump displays, Power Walls need to be changed frequently.  At least once a quarter.

MANTHAN: What kind of in-store technologies are you seeing gain more popularity?

Kizer & Bender:

We are seeing all sorts of retailers utilizing promotional videos that highlight the store set strategically throughout the sales floor. And because 70% of purchase decisions are made on site, we’re seeing iPads used as interactive signing. The iPads allow shoppers access to what’s available from the retailer online, find ideas for product usage, and more. iBeams that interact with a retailer’s app that’s installed on a customer’s smartphones are gaining popularity.

MANTHAN: How much does data and analysis help in influencing store layout and display?

Kizer & Bender:

There is so much information available to retailers today, including how time is spent by customers in the store, purchase behaviors, flow tracking, merchandise turn rates, financial statics and analyses, and so much more. Here’s the thing: All of the data garnered should serve as a guide to layout and display, but the retailer cannot rely just on data analysis alone. Retail is a science but it’s also an art. Retailers need to spend time on the sales floor doing cycle counts, tweaking displays that aren’t reaching full potential, and observing customers and their shopping habits.

For more great advice on retail store layouts, visit Kizer & Bender’s Blog Retail Adventures