If you want to grow purchases without investing in a new storefront, experts say you can expand within your current footprint with great results. Squeeze extra space from existing footage by implementing targeted strategies for making smarter selections, reshaping the store space and serving shoppers better.
1. Apply the “two finger rule.”
Two fingers is the amount of space you need between the top of the products on one shelf and the bottom of the shelf directly above it. Applied uniformly throughout your store, this will let you fit more products in existing space and grow sales via greater selection and a more appealing appearance.
2. Nix duplicates.
Do you really need another vitamin C SKU? Another joint health supplement? Another nondairy line? Rather than evaluating products by brand, manage your inventory one category at a time. You want to stock new items, but make sure you don’t duplicate what you already carry, or you’ll actually decrease shopping choices and rob yourself of shelf space and sales opportunities.
3. Invest in your people.
A key to sales is salespeople. Once you’ve hired the right employees, make sure they have the facts about products you carry so they can be a valuable resource for shoppers. For example, give them a chance to learn from the researchers and formulators working with many of the top supplements companies. Also, teach them the meaning of key terms such as certified organic, non-GMO and gluten free.
–Bill Crawford, director of retail programs at New Hope Natural Media in Boulder, Colo.
4. Love the ones you’re with.
You already have a solid customer base. The best way to increase sales is to sell more items to the shoppers already in your store. Make it a priority to get to know what they buy and want, and stock those items. If you make shopping a personal transaction, customers will add more products to their carts.
Customers tend to get into patterns of buying the same things in the same places. If you reset the store more frequently, shoppers will see products they haven’t noticed before, even if you’ve stocked them all along. Then they’ll buy these “new” items. Change promotes a sense of excitement and impulse buying.
6. Remove the old, bring in the new.
Review how well the items on your shelves sell, and get rid of anything you don’t restock regularly. You might upset the one or two people who do buy those eliminated products, but you can offer them a special-order program with an incentive discount for buying a case. Then replace the cut products with other innovative items that our industry is known for. This will make the most of your space and keep customers guessing.
–Joel Patterson, owner of Nature’s Green Grocer in Peterborough, N.H.
Retail design consultant
7. Revamp your sales floor plan.
A good floor plan guides shoppers through the entirety of the store and makes them feel comfortable. This results in longer shop times, deeper store penetration and additional impulse sales. Consider hiring a design company to guide you through the process of implementing a decompression zone, adhering to the invariant right (the direction shoppers walk when they enter a store) and setting strong visual anchor guide points.
8. Analyze category productivity.
Assess the space devoted to categories and departments. Based on sales and profit per square foot, determine which categories should be expanded and which should be reduced. This will help you maximize efficiencies and minimize opportunity costs. Opportunity costs refer to the loss of potential profits that could be realized by freeing space and inventory dollars of sub-performing departments.
9. Update signage.
By guiding shoppers to different areas of your store, you will ensure that they find the items they’re looking for while drawing their attention to other items too. Remember the aesthetic value of these elements, and change them every three to five years to keep the environment fresh and appealing.
–Phil Mitchell, co-owner of Discovery-Based Retail in Olathe, Kan.