Retail Shop layouts: The Options

Posted on 13 July, 2018 by Bailey Clarke

For any retail business, the shop layout is probably one of the most important elements to consider while in the planning stage.

Many research projects conducted by established retail companies have uncovered fruitful insight into human behaviour while shopping. The results have seen different methods being developed throughout many outlets worldwide.

Retail Shop layouts: The Options

Some major retail businesses have their own layout departments with brand managers, interior designers and data scientists to keep on top of consumers shopping patterns.

Grid retail layout

One of the most common layouts is the grid which tends to be used in local convenience stores, small format supermarkets and chemists.

The basics of the grid are to show off products in a familiar order so that customers can complete their weekly food shop in a recognisable routine. Shopping aisles tend to be long in length featuring products that have been grouped in the relevant category.

Retail Grid layout

Enticing special offers and shelf placement is also a very important factor for store grid layouts. Products that are on the middle shelf or at eye level tend to sell quicker than the higher and lower racks. The premium positions on the shelves are normally in high demand with suppliers negotiating with the retailer to gain the advantage by having the middle spot.

There are some negatives with the grid format that could impact shoppers experience and that is small aisles, research shows that room is important when shopping as no one wants to invade anybody’s personal space. In general, it is a universal layout with a predictable flow of traffic and plenty of room for merchandise.

Herringbone shop layout

If space is an issue for a shop owner then the herringbone grid could be an option to consider. Usually, with this layout, the merchandise is placed on the left and right walls with the open space in the middle leading to the checkout counter.

Herringbone shop layout

The benefit of this layout is that it can be used to display a vast range of products with minimal space available. As space is generally limited the negative of the herringbone is a confined area which could result in overcrowding if the retail shop becomes busy.

Loop grid layout

The loop is a great layout for any retailer that wants to encourage shoppers to slow down and browse. It’s ideal for placing offers throughout the loop enticing impulsive buyers who will then make their purchases when the loop guides them to the checkout. Ikea utilises the loop format very well, taking their shoppers on a journey throughout various displays.

loop store layout

The benefit is that it will show off all the merchandise in a controlled manner increasing product exposure. Some retailers use the loop method to give shoppers a story whilst on their journey throughout the store. The loop is also known as the racetrack grid and although it has many positives it would not suit every retailer.


The free-flow grid gives shop owners the chance to be creative as there is no specific path but there are still rules to follow. Even though free-flow stores have no structure there are always human shopping patterns to consider when laying out the retail space.

free flow shop layout

The pros with a flexible layout is that is can be effective in small spaces and encourages the shopper to browse freely in no particular order. A negative of a free-flow grid is that there is limited space for merchandise and if best practices haven’t been followed the layout could result in the customer being confused.

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