Rearranging furniture

June 15, 2018By Future of Retail, Views


by Dave Wendland for Drug Store News
May 14, 2018

As spring approaches in Wisconsin — finally — it’s always a great time to renew, refresh, and, for me, rearrange some furniture. There’s something about a “winter arrangement” that keeps my living room chairs situated for cozier and more intimate conversations. However, come spring, I look for ways to open up the room a bit more and let in more of the sun’s glow and warmth.

As I considered more “ideas I haven’t thought of” themes for this series, I felt that a spring cleaning within a retail setting can be an important part of keeping store displays fresh and consumers and staff motivated. Rearranging the “furniture” provides the opportunity to enhance the overall layout, refresh fixtures and displays, and update the operation to enhance the shopping experience and bolster sales.
I’ll be the first to admit that adjusting a retail setting merely for the sake of adjustment often falls flat on its face. Not only will a haphazard approach lead to shopper confusion, it may equally frustrate the retail staff. However, walking through the primary entrance of any retail setting with a fresh set of eyes and open-mindedness can lead to tremendous results.

Here are five things I recommend be considered…and they are the same five things I take stock of before rearranging my living room furniture.

Establishing a goal
Before simply moving the furniture in my living space, I consider what I hope to accomplish. Is it to move things away from the walls, incorporate a new focal point piece of art, create conversational areas, etc.? Similar characteristics should be acknowledged when assessing retail space. If the goal is to reduce a claustrophobic feeling, then adjusting inventory levels and the number of fixtures may be the solution. If the goal is to increase visibility across the store, then lower fixtures may help. Perhaps the goal is to allow shoppers easier movement from section to section and across the entire store layout, so angles and shorter gondola runs may meet the objective.

First impressions
Consumers form an impression of a retail space within seven to 10 seconds. (In the case of my living room, it took my daughter about five seconds to say what she liked and what she disliked!) If you want shoppers to feel energized, does your initial appearance match? If you’re hoping that customers pause for a moment or navigate a certain direction, does your store design provide that opportunity?

Shedding some light
For me, I’m a fan of well-lit retail spaces flooded with natural light, where possible. Especially given our aging population and deteriorating eyesight, ensuring adequate lighting has become a necessity. Think back to the last time you rearranged the furniture in one of your rooms. How important was getting the lighting just right? Why is it any different on the retail floor?

Freedom of movement
Fluidity in arranging furniture in my home is important. In other words, I’m ensuring that my guests can easily get to a comfortable chair or couch and not have to hurdle hassocks, coffee tables, or other disrupters. I cannot tell you the number of times that I’ve become frustrated at a retailer who expects their guests to clear/jump/leap displays or vault pommel horse past sale merchandise. Of course, there is a fine line between making the space seem too sparse (however, minimalistic retailing is on the rise) or overcrowding the area to the point where it is like walking through an unkempt closet.

Line of sight
In my open-space concept at home, I want to ensure that if I’m on the opposite side of my kitchen or near the breakfast bar, that I can still maintain eye contact and conversation with my houseguests. Putting up barriers that prevent this line of sight is unthinkable. So, why is it that many of the retailers I visit have displays that are far too high, obscuring the line of sight across the store, or configurations of displays that make it non-conducive to have a conversation?

After a long winter, shoppers are looking for just about anything to brighten their day. Whichever goal you are adjusting your “living space” to achieve, moving, changing, or altering fixtures can invigorate in-store traffic and sales.