6 Common Store Layout Mistakes Made by Retailers

by zhoosh_admin | December 22, 2022

Every business owner and manager makes mistakes. In most situations, you can correct your errors easily without severe consequences. However, the same cannot always be said for retailers creating their store layouts.

While most mistakes are made due to inexperience, there can be real-world consequences, like dissatisfied customers, reduced profits, and general poor aesthetics. If you’re in the process of planning a new retail store and want to ensure it meets your employee and customer needs, avoid doing some of the following things.

Not Relying on the Experts

You might be an expert at managing your store, but that doesn’t always make you a retail design expert. Rely on commercial interior fitout experts like Zoosh Studio to avoid some of the most common store layout mistakes.

Commercial interior fitout experts can be involved in the store layout process from start to finish, including designing the interior and even building it from the ground up.

Those same experts can generally also help with:

  • Consultation and planning before a project begins
  • Interior design and colour consultation
  • Architectural design
  • Specifications and project scope
  • Fire, structural, and HVAC engineering
  • Council consent management

They can be involved in the store layout process from start to finish, designing the interior and building them for you.

Making Aisles Too Narrow

It’s only natural to want to maximise the available space, especially when you have an abundance of exciting products to sell. However, don’t let it get to the point where you’re cramming everything into the space, making it overwhelming for shoppers and challenging to navigate.

While designing your store layout, ensure your customers have plenty of ‘breathing’ room. This can involve ensuring aisles are at least 1.5m wide.

Not Making Your Retail Layout Accessible

According to the Ministry of Health, 1.1 million Kiwis are disabled, but not all business owners consider accessibility when planning their store layout. Ensure your business is inclusive by designing your store to be accessible for all.

This can involve making entrances wide, clear, and free of obstacles. There should also be at least 1.2m of clear space on each side of your entrance. Entrances should be level to ensure people using wheeled mobility aids don’t roll forward or back and are at least 81cm wide.

If your business has doors that customers need to open or close themselves, ensure the door pressure is no more than 3.6kg for external non-fire doors and 2.26kg for internal non-fire doors.

Allow at least 1.2-1.5m around displays for mobility scooters and wheelchairs to enjoy an easy turning circle, and consider the use of low counters set at 1.2m for people in seated mobility aids to access with ease. You might even consider a two-tiered counter with a higher and lower section.

If you’re in the clothing business, it’s also worth putting thought into the layout and design of your dressing rooms. The floor area must allow for a turning radius of at least 1.5m, with coat hooks set at 1-1.35m. Ensure doors swing out and, if they don’t, allow extra floor space within the dressing room.

Having Mismatched Shelving

When all your attention is on colours, products, and layout, it’s easy to let storage systems, like shelves, tables, and racks, fall by the wayside. You might even decide to use a combination of different rack systems to save money.

However, mismatched shelving is a serious mistake to make, and your customers will notice. Mismatched shelves can make your retail store look disorganized and cluttered. If you have mismatched storage systems, ensure they aren’t positioned near each other.

Not Prioritising Lighting

Lighting is about more than making sure customers can see what you’re selling. It can be about putting customers in the mood to shop and showing your wares in the most flattering light.

Believe it or not, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to lighting, as some lighting types can suit some stores better than others. For example, dim lighting can be romantic and intimate in a boutique, but it’s less appropriate for a pharmacy, where bright lights tend to be more suitable.

According to studies, cool white light makes stores appear more spacious, while warm colour temperatures evoke a sense of cosiness and familiarity. Before you make your final decision, consider the options you have at your disposal.

You might look at ambient lighting, which sets the mood in an entire store, or accent lighting, which draws customer attention to specific products. High-activity lighting is also essential, as it eliminates dark, shadowy corners.

Not Embracing Variety

Many stores maintain the same retail layout permanently. After all, why fix what’s not broke? However, changing your displays and refreshing the layout can pique customer curiosity and might even encourage them to make purchases.

Use display furniture that you can change up as your products change, such as shelving, platforms, and tables. The easier it is to move these around and adjust them for new stock, the more straightforward it can be to set up new displays and create visual interest.

Avoid Store Layout Mistakes By Getting the Experts Involved

Kiwis are the masters of DIY and love getting stuck into a project without relying on experts. However, navigating a new retail store layout on your own can have disastrous consequences.

Avoid ending up with a cluttered, unattractive, and inaccessible retail store by requesting expert help. Retail fitout experts Zhoosh can’t wait to work with you to create a retail environment you and your customers will adore.


How can retailers use lighting to create the right atmosphere and showcase their products effectively?

Retailers can use different types of lighting, such as ambient, task, and accent lighting, to create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere and highlight the best features of their products.

How wide should aisles be in a retail store to ensure customers have enough space to navigate?

The width of aisles in a retail store should be at least 3 feet to ensure that customers have enough space to navigate comfortably and safely.

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