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You want people to see your best and most enticing products or displays first, so you’ll need to know where they go or turn to when they enter your shop. Do they tend to move to the left or right? Where do their eyes go? These are just some of the questions you should ask when merchandising your store.
Fortunately, research offers some insights into retail traffic patterns. Studies have shown that that the flow of traffic in-store may actually be influenced by vehicular patterns on the road. In the book Inside the Mind of the Shopper by Herb Sorensen, he notes:
The pattern of movement in the supermarket is counterclockwise in the United States, but PathTracker studies in the UK, Australia, and Japan show a much greater tendency for shoppers to move in a clockwise pattern there… traffic patterns in the store may also be affected by vehicle traffic patterns outside. In these small studies, we noted that in countries with right-hand driving, where traffic circles move in a clockwise pattern, shoppers in stores may be more comfortable moving the same direction.
With this information in mind, it may behoove you to lead customers to the right if you’re in the United States or in a country that enforces right-hand traffic. But if you’re in the UK or Australia, it may be best to arrange your store to support people moving in a clockwise direction.
That said, while research certainly offers some insights into in-store traffic, you shouldn’t base all your merchandising decisions on external studies alone. Be sure to make your own observations to figure out the traffic patterns of your own customers.
Use foot traffic tools to analyze how customers move about in your store, or just be more observant and pay attention to where shoppers go and the things they look at when they come in.
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