Fit for purpose: Part 3 - the customer journey

25 September, 2009
Page 16 

There is a simple rule in retail design that, for many years, has been a bit of a design myth: it's the so-called Right Hand rule. Several food retailers have adopted this rule as the starting point of creating a successful customer journey and it is as simple as it sounds.
The Right Hand rule has developed from the observation of shoppers and their natural inclination to head to the right-hand side of the store on entry. This is understood to be a comfortable and natural direction for customers and determines the position of display chillers, fridges and any other point-of-sale en route to the tills. The optimal flow should be a simple square movement moving to the right, up to the till and servery counter, moving to the left and exiting down the left-hand side of the store.
Till and servery locations vary across all stores and are inevitably determined by property factors, such as power, water and drainage. But where possible, a counter directly opposite the entrance is the best location as favoured by many chains such as Pret A Manger. This enables staff to catch the attention of customers with direct eye contact on entry to the store and, by simply adding a raised platform behind the tills, staff can communicate with anyone at the back of the queue.
What ultimately makes good customer flow is simplicity, movement and a single route with the full product range on offer and no need for retracing steps or crossing queues. Laying out products in a logical fashion, both in terms of fridges and hot cabinets in the store and planograms for product display, aids the overall flow and, in turn, creates a key element of a memorable experience ease of use.
A memorable experience is also built on other elements, such as routine, brand awareness and expectation. Marketing your brand values is simple: while customers are queuing, they're captured and have time to look. It's also good to create a dedicated space in-store for promotions. It may just be a window, but it's a place that customers habitually refer to for the latest product or store news. Finally, as with everything in retail, managing customer expectation is vital to any success. Whatever your brand values may say about your product or store, they have to be exceeded for a customer to return and spread the word.
l Next month: are corner sites the best?





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