Store Design Blueprint: How to Design Your Retail Store for Functionality 


Most retail store designs are carried out by shopfitters made up of builders and carpenters with the ability to create beautiful structural design.

However, a good retail store design is not about the infrastructure, it is about functionality.  

What does ‘design functionality’ mean? ‘Design functionality’ is the organisation of space for its optimal use, predicting future changes or allowing flexibility of organisation to accommodate different usage pattern in the future.

How does the concept of ‘design functionality’ apply to retail store design?

Store design

Tesco design it stores to respond to customer requirements

When Sir Terry Leahy became CEO of Tesco, he said the first thing he did was ask the question ‘who do we serve’.

When the answer came that Tesco serve the ‘Ordinary Joe’ who was extremely conscience of his time, Sir Terry redesign Tesco stores adding extra checkout counters to speed up the checkout process.

Harrods children department is very specious. It was deliberately designed in that manner to allow its play consultants the space required to play with children visiting the store.

Store design

toys-r-us store design is like soviet dental suite

Contrast Harrods children department to that of Early Learning Centre and Toys R Us.

Those two retailers sell children merchandise.

However, when you enter their stores, you will think you have entered a Soviet dental suit.

It no surprise both retailers are struggling.

But they have not made the connection between their Soviet style store design and their troubles.

When shoppers enter a retail store to buy, they do not go into the store for their made in China merchandise, they visit the store to buy the experience of buy the merchandise.

There is a difference, it is that difference that successful retailers know which is why they are successful.

Imagine a child playing with a toy with the play consultants at Harrods.

The kid is enjoying the game, giggling as he plays with the toys.

Do you think after that experience that child will want to leave Harrods without that toy?

retail store design

Harrods design it’s store with space for children to play

That is the definition of designing a retail store for functionality. A good store design serve four functions:

  • Attract shoppers into a retail store
  • Retain them for long in the store
  • Persuade them to buy
  • Trigger automatic repeat sales

A retail store cannot achieve the above four if the functionality of the store is not taken into account when the store is being designed. Before any retailer decide on their store design, they need to ask and answer the following three questions:

  • Who are we going to sell to?
  • What are we going to sell to them?
  • How are we going to sell it to them?
design retail store

The best way to increase retail sales is to design store for functionality

The common myth in the retail industry is the best way to increase sales is to reduce price, which is why discounting is the favourite strategy of the majority of retailers.

If there is one thing you take away from this article let it be this: the price of a merchandise is determined by who is buying and how it is sold to them.

Your store design and visual merchandising display will determine who you attract into your store and how much you will be able to sell your merchandise for.

Therefore, hiring shopfitters to design your retail store without first answering the questions:

  • Who are we going to sell to?
  • What are we going to sell to them?
  • How are we going to sell it to them?

Is setting yourself up for Early Learning Centre and Toys R Us like outcome.

People do not visit a retail store to buy the made in China merchandise, they visit the retail store to buy the experience of buying the merchandise.


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In this fiercely competitive retail environment, the tiniest of things can make an enormous difference to your sales and profit margin.

Click on any of the links below to gain access to highly valuable resources specifically engineered to help retailer like you increase your sales and profit margin:


How to Increase Retail Sales Books:


How to Increase Retail Sales Home Study Course:

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Small Business Growth & Marketing Consulting Agency London

Small Business Growth & Marketing Consulting Agency London