Different Types of Retail Store Layouts

In the world of retail, there are so many things to consider when it comes to your overall customer experience. One of these fundamental elements is your retail store layout. This is a catch-all term that encompasses the way retailers set up product displays, fixtures, and merchandise in-store. While retail store designs and layouts have no hard and fast rules, it’s important to pay attention to your target market, your space, and the types of products you sell in order to create something that works for you.


We’ve provided some prime examples of retail store layouts to get you inspired, so you can move forward and out your space with confidence.

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Grid store layout

Let’s start with a classic. The grid layout is a familiar retail staple that you would have seen countless times in pharmacies, convenience stores, and grocers. This style is all about long aisles displaying reams of merchandise, where customers weave up and down to browse. 

The lack of white space and maximum display potential is all about showing off multiple products. Impulse-purchase items typically live at the front of the ailes, while must-have staples remain at the back – so customers have to pass the tempting goodies before they can reach the basics. 



  • Ideal for stores with a high volume of product
  • Maximum product exposure that encourages browsing
  • Familiar for shoppers
  • Predictable traffic flow, meaning predictable placements for best-sellers
  • Lots of choice with shelving and display due to being a popular layout



  • Not unique or experiential
  • Lack of shortcuts can frustrate shoppers
  • Your product groupings might not work for every customer
  • Lack of white space can be visually overwhelming
  • Harder for customers to maintain distance

Herringbone store layout

If you like the idea of a grid layout but you’re working with a longer, more narrow space, the herringbone layout could be perfect for you. Herringbone-styled stores use similar principles to the grid layout with a few space-saving twists. This layout uses one central aisle with multiple displays mirroring each other on each side, creating wall-to-wall display options for your stock. Smaller spaces with lots of product, like bookstores and hardware stores, tend to favour this layout.



  • Suitable for stores with lots of product but limited space
  • Can work well for warehouse-style stores that also allow regular, non-trade customers



  • Limited visibility down side aisles can create opportunities for shoplifters
  • Can feel crowded and lack room for natural customer traffic

Loop (racetrack) store layout

Ah, the loop layout. Also known as the racetrack or forced-path store layout, this design takes the grid’s mostly predictable traffic flows to another level by creating a deliberate closed loop. Customers travel from the front of the store past every bit of merchandise before ending at the checkout. This exposes them to a maximum amount of product, albeit by a controlled and inflexible route. 



  • Maximum exposure to merchandise
  • A predictable and non-variable traffic pattern, allowing entry and exit points to display impulse-purchase items effectively
  • Can be experiential depending on your product offering – the opportunity to take customers on a journey



  • Customers can’t browse at will or go back and forth
  • Can frustrate and deter customers with specific buying intent 
  • Not suited for shops that desire high traffic or carry products people need to spend little time considering before purchase

Free-flow store layout

It’s time to throw conventionality out the window! If you prefer to get a bit creative with your floorplanning, a free-flow store layout is a fantastic option. With this layout, there is no intention to force customers through tried-and-true traffic patterns – instead, wandering is encouraged. How you organise your products in a free-flow retail store is limited only by the square metres and imagination at your disposal


While there is freedom in this particular method, remember to keep consumer preferences and behaviour in the back of your mind when making decisions. Placing shelves too close together, not utilising visual breaks, or putting checkout in the wrong part of your store can put potential customers off before they’ve even given you a chance. 



  • Great for smaller spaces
  • Allows for more space between products
  • More suitable for shops with less merchandise – ideal for a high-end feel
  • Can allow for a more experiential retail space



  • Can yield less space to display products
  • Unconventional layouts can confuse shoppers
  • Easy to cast away best practices for successful layouts – don’t lose sight of your intentions for your customers

Use shelving and displays wisely to benefit your chosen layout

No matter which direction you choose for your retail store design, utilising shelving and display elements in a clever way can help to enhance your customer experience. Take into account what you’re selling, your overall goals, and any points of difference that can set you apart from your competitors. Combine these with an effective store layout and you’ve got a recipe for success! To view shelves and products for retail stores check out our Retail Shop Fitting page. 

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