Best Practices

Planning Your Store: Step-by-Step Instructions To Maximize Your Layout

Mapping out your retail store so that it’s easy to navigate is crucial to success

A good retail store layout starts on paper, where you work out building specs, customer traffic flow, product placement, and more, before ever installing a single display. Thoughtful planning lets you explore options and create a store layout that encourages customers to browse and buy. Here’s how to plan your own winning store layout in 8 easy steps. We’ll show you how to address each of these 8 factors throughout this guide. From floor plan options that encourage traffic flow to ideal product placement, we’ll cover every aspect of your retail store layout. Plus we’ll discuss important issues that affect your store planning, such as Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and consumer behavior studies.

Step 1: Decide on a Retail Store Floor Plan

Large or small, most retail stores use one of three basic types of retail store layouts. Here’s a quick look at each, and we’ll explore all three in detail below.

Retail Floor PlanBest For


Grid Floor Plans are commonly used in grocery, big box, and convenience stores. Also known as straight layout.


Small retailers who carry large inventories of shelf-stocked goods such as books and magazines, toys, specialty foods, hardware, cards and small gifts, kitchenwares, and homewares



Loop Floor Plans maximize wall display space and expose customers to all products along a set pathway. Also known as a racetrack layout.



Apparel, accessories, toy, homewares, kitchenwares, personal care, and specialty retail stores



Free Flow Floor Plans allow the most creativity and are used in many small upscale, specialty, and boutique settings.



Upscale apparel, accessory, personal care, specialty brand, and mixed use businesses like bakeries and delis that also sell packaged goods



Remember, your retail store layout guides product placement, directs customer flow, and defines the overall look and feel of your store, so it deserves plenty of thought. Many factors will affect your floor plan choice, including the the size and shape of your sales floor, the types of products you sell, and even the customers you hope to attract. Keep these factors in mind as we explore each floor plan option in detail.

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