Take Advantage of Your Store's Best Traffic Points

Do you know your store's top traffic points and how to best take advantage of them to increase sales? Here's how to pinpoint the top spots in your store.

Take Advantage of Your Store's Best Traffic Points

Take advantage of your store's best traffic routes to set up displays where customers will linger. (Photo: Michael D. Faw)

It’s a fact that certain points and places in your business are top profit points. There are several places in aisles, at or around the check-out counter and in the ends of rows that can attract customer attention — and loudly ring the cash register.

While end caps do catch the attention of customers as they pass around that area, so do key places in the middle of the aisles — especially at eye level. Looking for a top place in the store or range to capture customers, move more products and increase profits? Then take an insightful look at your layout and view your store as your customers do.

Have you pin-pointed top traffic points in your store or range?

Connect With Customers’ Eyes

One key factor in any top traffic point with retail centers is that the area attracts — or holds — customer eye contact longer than other areas. Customers who pass by this point often need to slow down, look more closely and use more attention when pushing a shopping cart around — or when walking around — an end of the aisle display. That is generally a given and a noted top area to place displays with items that are on sale — or the weekly, monthly or seasonal specials. 

Shoppers are also more alert and focused at the check-out counter (usually found near the front door) because there, customers have their wallet or credit card out and things — the items they want to purchase — are moving across the counter. This is a top point for some retailers to put fliers announcing upcoming events and sales. Too much of a good thing, i.e. clutter, can overwhelm customers and lead to shopper frustration. But note that at or around the checkout counter is a top place for customers to interact with hands-on active type product displays.

Another in-store profit point could be areas that are sometimes viewed as bottlenecks. There, customers must work to move through or around displays or stacks of items such as cases of ammunition. Many stores use the floor to hold heavy cases of shotshells and the right layout and display there means money in your pocket. Open the cases or customers will pass by. Customers who are moving slower in that type area tend to better observe the obstacles and the area around. Where are those places, or where can you create them in your store?

To better view things as your customers do, consider pushing a cart up and down the aisles and study the floor and what seems to stand out. Some stores only stack retail items at designated areas in their floor plan and never truly consider how the customer views shopping there. A good lesson could be learned by placing a video camera, such as GoPro or cellphone in video mode, at eye level and take a tour of your store. You can time your passage through areas to see where it takes the most seconds or minutes to move past. Go through the area in walking mode, and then in stop and read mode. See the shelves and displays as customers do.

Remember also that vivid colors, banners, posters and other eye-catching stimuli can cause customers to move more slowly and take a closer look. It’s easy to find examples of point-of-purchase displays and end caps that shooting sports suppliers provide to clients across America. Again, take a close look at those and work to understand how customers view them. Some displays can also be educational and can help a customer better understand a complex product. Use some creativity to make them more profitable and engaging.

While obstructions and counter displays can definitely be profitable, be certain that they do not violate fire codes or interfere with customers as they shop. Place too many restrictions and customers could become disengaged in shopping there because shopping becomes serious work.

Observing The Obvious

Customers are well recognized as king in the retail environment. You have to get them inside your store to begin the selling/buying process. Once you get them inside, how do you help them select products or learn about offered services? In addition to listening to comments customers make about in-store displays, signage, certain firearms, products, etc., you need to think about what those comments reveal. Comments centered around items or displays they liked, noted or words about a spotted a sign, item or display let you know those locations are prime profit centers. Customers look there and pay attention.

Customers also look at specific areas that are close to eye level. Line of sight in the middle of the aisles — slightly above, below and at eye level — is where customers spend the majority of their time scanning, analyzing, reading and searching. Remember that the cart, even if it is the standard open wire or plastic design, that they may be pushing can prevent seeing anything on lower shelves once anything is placed in the cart. Same goes for the basket in their hand — it prevents customers from fully looking down near floor level most of the time. If customers must kneel to see items on the lowest shelf, or to look up under a shelf, you are restricting those customers’ focus areas. Same holds true to tall shelves and the products placed above head level. Those regions are ignored by customers.

A common way to overcome the problem of items being out-of-sight is to follow leading grocers. They have clerks block shelves—or pull items forward and to the edge of the shelf. This fills voids on the shelf and works to get items near the front and more easily in view with the passing customer. Some stores also place the best-selling items in the middle of the shelving. Just look for standard .30-06 cartridges or 12-gauge shotshells. Those are not on the very low obscure shelves in any well-designed store that utilizes profit points.

You can also observe — do not stop and stare — most customers as they move through the aisles and around the store or retail center. What do they stop and read, grasp and operate, or stand and study in detail? You can also ask staff about shopping habits they have seen while working with customers on the floor.

This keen customer observation is especially true at the check-out counter. This is normally the place where the customer spends the most time in your store or range. What do they see while standing there? Observe objectively or have staff or special welcomed customers take a look.  Note what they can see, what they can touch or try, and what they move from the display to their items purchased box or bag. This premium area at the check-out center is where most retail establishments place the smaller, but must-have or high-on-the-wants-list items such as handwarmer packets, accessories or maps. Products costing less than $20 can move quickly from this region.

Learn From The Leaders

In addition to studying your store and visiting and learning how your competitors and the big boxes do displays and product placements, stop and take a lesson from your suppliers. In recent years SIG Sauer has created small stores within stores. There, items are displayed in specially designed wall units or eye-catching display cabinets. Those items, including firearms and magazines, are placed in exact locations based on their research and customer knowledge. You can easily copy some of those practices.

In the Big Box locations, also look at stores within stores that have popped up in recent years. Those places and areas have consolidated displays of wares based on years of customer research and observation. They have created shopping destinations within the store. Beretta is one shooting sports leader that understands and executes this practice well. You could easily combine items in one area and, for example, create a concealed carry center that has bags, holsters, special clothing and a variety of vests, and even a holder for the CCW license. Use your insight when developing these one-stop shopping centers.

Look also how Simms and Orvis now display their items inside larger stores. Customers can get waders, clothing, packs and other gear in a small area instead of moving all around the store on a gear hunting expedition. Many of the items in these centers are located comfortably just below, slightly above and definitely at eye-level.   

In case you are wondering, many of your suppliers can provide displays, cabinets, signs, posters and other items that stimulate customer interest and can increase sales because of that brand connection. Your retail center should be more than about shelves with boxes placed there or you are behind the times. 

In today’s stimulated shopping environment, have you seen the grocery store pop-up screens that play commercials as you walk past? They are motion activated and cause shoppers to take note. Someone is often speaking to them. Many retail stores now use continuous loop hunting or competition shooting shows and endorsements by celebrities playing on TV screens and e-displays in the store to educate customers or call attention to brands’ products. These displays use more than one sensory to catch customer attention and are great sales tools.

Again, your suppliers may have these displays free or available at discounts to you, and these visual aids can help you connect with buyers.

If you need more insight and ideas, there are numerous online and free guides to help with developing store floor plans and displays. Take advantage of them and use them to evaluate your current store layout while looking for opportunities. 

The Floor Has A Plan

Much like you develop a business and marketing plan, you should develop a master floor plan. Developing the plan and details and getting this comprehensive overview can help you identify traffic points and areas for displays. Remember also that displays should change during the seasons — or ahead of them.

Aisles are also designed to lead shoppers to areas such as the gun counter in the back or optics counters that may be on the side. Don’t block those key paths with displays. That movement along the way to those key customer attractions should be open and inviting.

Top traffic points can be the difference between breaking even or having a great sales year. Do you know where they are in your retail center?


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