Putting a limit on store layout changes

16Nov10

Though I haven’t kept an exact count, I believe my local Trader Joe’s has made significant changes to the store layout at least twice this year. Now, I can certainly understand the need to shake things up once in a while, e.g. to accomodate major changes in the product assortment or new information about how customers move through the particular store. But I also get the feeling that too many of these overhauls is a bad thing.

Each time you make a big change to your store layout, customers have to re-learn where their favorite products are located and may get quite frustrated with the inefficiency of the shopping experience. If it takes people a few months to adjust to the new design, and you change the store layout again right after that, their frustration will be exponentially greater. In other words, there needs to be a substantial cooling-off period following each major update.

As a rough guideline, you should limit store layout changes to one significant overhaul every 12 months. And if you need to make those updates in phases, try to cluster them together into a 30 day window so it just feels like one big change, instead of several changes in a row. By following this approach, you’ll minimize the disruption to shoppers, while mitigating any short-term reduction in revenue that would otherwise occur when customers can’t locate the items they want to purchase.



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