“Fast service and quiet moments”

Every so often it is a good idea to take a critical look at your business’s floor plan. There is always the possibility that you might be missing out on a few extra opportunities to increase your revenue. Many design decisions are informed by efficiency and operations while others focus almost entirely on style and ambience. However, a lot about store layout can be learnt from our neighbours at the grocery store.

The next time you go to the supermarket, take a really good look around. See the flowers at the entrance? Those next to the fresh produce. They are placed there for a reason. Not only do they smell great as you enter the store, but they immediately create an impression of freshness around the fresh produce.

That barista at the entrance to your local Woolies doesn’t just want to sell you a coffee, he also wants you to take your time in the store while you finish that coffee; because the longer you wander about, the more you will spend.

Not the kind of operators to overlook any detail, grocers have also observed that we prefer to look right when we shop, so many stores are designed to propel us in an anticlockwise direction.

Do you get ‘hugs’ at your supermarket? Hugs are u-shaped display units that allow you to step into an enveloped space like two enfolding arms. Apparently we like those too.

The point is, we can learn a lot about our customers’ needs by closely observing how they engage with the environment we have created. Congested areas, noisy entrances, errant kitchen smells and loud intrusive music all act on the senses and create varying degrees discomfort. Step back, or even better, step outside and re-enter your store. What do you see?

Starbucks founder (now Presidential candidate) Howard Schultz, describes the environment they try to create as “…a place to think and imagine, a spot where people could gather and talk…, a comforting refuge …, a place that welcomed people and rewarded them for coming, and a layout that could accommodate both fast service and quiet moments.”

What he is describing is a space that adjusts to customers’ needs. Quick service for a quick coffee, as well as, for some, a quiet corner to chill out.

The takeout for us is to tailor our layout around our customers’ needs so that they want to spend more time with us.