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New shop design, layout and stock

When buying a new business, after the foundations have been covered like location, property and employees, you’ll have the design and layout of your shop to consider. In this instalment of the How to Open a Shop Guide, we’ll look at how to plan the best layout for your shop including merchandising and staff facilities.


Design and Layout

Explore other similar shops; ask suppliers to recommend successful stores for you to visit around the country, look online for award winning stores. Get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. Specialist design consultancies servicing independent stores are available for guidance, but this will be at an additional fee. In the process, don’t abandon function for style – high chrome and curved glass may look gorgeous on the computer preview, but may be awkward to merchandise and keep clean.


Staff facilities

Consider where a small kitchen area will be best placed in your shop with enough space for a sink, a small fridge and microwave and some cupboards.


Think about the layout and design in terms of:

  • Proximity to university, gyms, offices
  • Space requirements
  • Security
  • Design of other stores in the surrounding area



Trading terms

When meeting suppliers and their representatives for the first time, make it clear the kind of support your business requires. If you have good investment money, discounts may be more important to you than credit terms. Remember that this is a mutual business and many small suppliers need your help too, so don’t be too harsh.


Your product mix depends on your preference and expertise as well as your demographic. Consumers in a health food store are looking for a good range of products, lots of choice and the impression that there is abundance.


Work with your suppliers, ask for their advice, their top 30 may be a good starting point. Build each brand in store by width rather than depth. For example, if you wish to allocate shelf space for thirty bottles it may make more sense to buy two of 15 lines, rather than 15 bottles each of two lines.


Think about:

  • Key suppliers / wholesalers
  • Product mix
  • Packaged
  • Own label




Again, visit other similar shops, even consider how the multiples choose to display their goods too. Think about the layout of your store from a security perspective. Where will the information desk and tills be most appropriately placed? Customer flow and buy-line placement are a fine art and there are plenty of experts are available to advise if you feel you need more support and advice before you commit to anything.


Bays and sections

Creating metre-wide bays for each brand or product category sections to aid your customers journey around the shop, streamlines ordering and facilitates good stock management.



Nothing sells from the back room so consider other uses you might be able to use some of the space for. For example, a health food shop might create a consulting room for a practitioner which can help to bring in money for rent and add another USP for customers, creating a knowledgeable atmosphere.


Go to next section – marketing a new retail business

Go back a section – hiring and managing employees 

Go back to How to Open a Shop Guide