Balancing clutter, esthetics and customer flow
By Bill Vetter
As noted in a recent NY Times article, “Stuff Piled in the Aisle? It’s There to Get You to Spend More,” a post recessionary trend to add clutter is being adopted by many major retail outlets. Dollar General has made its shelves taller and Wal-Mart has placed pallets of merchandise in the center of its aisles advertising deals to create a sense of immediate value and bargains that just can’t be missed. As the pendulum swings from sterile, clean and clear aisles to a more cluttered ‘check out this deal’ look there is an important need to balance clutter, esthetics and customer flow when maximizing every inch of saleable space.
Clutter needs to be defined in terms of what is proven to work well in a retail outlet. If you can’t easily maneuver your shopping cart or you are climbing shelves to get to items piled high, or your checkout lanes are poorly defined and littered with random sales items then “clutter” is working against you. In a recent study, two thirds of customers polled said they are less likely to shop in a retail environment if they have challenges with their shopping experience. But if clutter is defined as a busy environment, presenting convincing product opportunities while offering genuine sales value (still keeping in mind store maneuverability and customer flow) then clutter can go a long way in creating customer loyalty.
To produce the right kind of environment that keeps clutter, esthetics and customer flow in harmony, you must keep in mind the objective of your store layout, the experience you wish to create and how you want to merchandise that experience. Coupled with good retail navigation and transaction design, you can increase customer satisfaction and browsing time while improving sales. Consider the following simple and cost effective revamping suggestions that not only help you to promote genuine values, but also to help your customers see items in more visually appealing ways, allowing them to maneuver both efficiently and safely – and even entertain and inform your customers:
- If you have empty wall space consider using merchandising accessories like baskets, bowls, shelves, hooks and prongs to organize, categorize and display items. Use clever signage to attract and direct customer flow — empty wall and even window space can be used to draw attention to items, build brand profiles and help customers navigate their shopping course along the path you would like them to take to get to a hot ticket item.
- Increasing the height of your shelves or leveraging “air space” is another way to add merchandising space but make sure this isn’t going to create problems – where customers have to rely on staff assistance or will endanger themselves trying to get to merchandise.
- Consider installing in-queue merchandising panels to better define your checkout and express lanes? This is a great way to offer the newest and best branded impulse items that people can grab and go without holding up the line.
- Create an environment that informs and entertains your customers. By using media panels, digital state of the art advertising platforms, these products provide an advanced way to accelerate queues, reduce wait times and generate marketing value.
No one likes to wait on lines, but if you can occupy your customers by creating the right kind of consumer centric atmosphere, a retail outlet enriched with 1) indisputable value and 2) easily accessible items and 3) a maneuverable layout designed to expedite customer flow — is poised to capture the loyalty of shoppers who are just starting to regain consumer confidence.
Bill Vetter is general manager of Lawrence, a Tensator Group Company. Lawrence/Tensator customer guidance experts are helping hundreds of retailers create value using proven merchandising formulas, customer flow and queue management techniques and solutions that maximize every inch of existing floor, air and checkout area space, while ensuring shopper safety and pleasing esthetics.
Safeway LEED-ing the way to greener retail with certified D.C. store
NEW YORK — Safeway’s store in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C., has earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The 71,067-sq.-ft. store is the grocer’s second LEED-certified store, and the first LEED certified store in D.C.
The store’s green building elements sunshade screens to reduce solar heat gain, and a storm water drainage system that collects and filters on site runoff from the parking lot and roof. It also features water efficient landscaping, including the use of drip irrigation with a landscape irrigation system water diverted from public sewer system by reuse of defrost waste water. Drought-tolerant native plants that require little or no irrigation help reduce the use of water.
Additional sustainable elements include:
White “TPO” roofing, which reduces the heat island effect and decreases cooling requirements for the store; LED lighting in exterior signs, which reduce energy consumption by 80% or more, compared with standard neon signs;
No CFC refrigerants. Safeway exclusively uses R-507 in its refrigeration systems, an HFC refrigerant with low ozone depletion potential;
Protocol-distributed refrigeration systems, which places the compressors closer to the various loads around the store to reduce the amount of copper piping in one store by about 35%. It also reduces the refrigerant charge by approximately 30%; and
Centralized HVAC system, using R-410a, which is more energy efficient than R-22 and has zero-ozone depletion potential.
The Georgetown Safeway reopened last year.
Black & Decker unveils new Steam-Mop
TOWSON, Md. — Black & Decker has introduced its new Steam-Mop featuring trademarked SmartSelect technology that enables users to use the mop on a variety of floor types. When the right setting is chosen the mop will release the required amount of steam needed to clean the floor.
The mop works with regular tap water, thus eliminating the need for harsh chemicals, the company reported. According to Black & Decker, this mop can kill99.9 percent of germs to achieve a clean home the all-natural way.
The Steam-Mop is ready quickly with its speedy 15-second heat-up time. A ready-to-go tank illumination changes from red to blue so users know when the water reaches the correct temperature. With swivel steering, users can maneuver easily around furniture and into corners, and the Black & Decker Steam-Mop automatically shuts off the steam when parked upright for those quick pauses during cleaning.
Additionally, the Steam-Mop boasts a handful of convenience features such as hands-free pad removal for easy release by simply stepping on the pad, an attached lid and cup to help avoid misplacing loose items and a tank that holds enough water for more than 25 minutes of uninterrupted cleaning.