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Retail Sales Floor: A Guide For Store Owners


A retail sales floor can drive sales if it’s managed with the customer in mind. Though at first glance it may not seem like there’s a lot to figure out about retail floors, you may be in for a surprise once you learn of its importance as well as some applicable strategies critical to driving revenue.

This guide is designed to enable retailers to make better use of their sales floor in 2023. If you’re looking to increase footfall post-COVID, dive in below.

Table of Contents

What is a retail sales floor?

A retail sales floor is the main selling area of a store managed by retail associates that’s filled with goods on display. It’s the first thing customers see when they enter your store and it can influence their purchasing decisions. It’s for that reason that your retail sales floor should be built to make the best impression. 

An effective retail sales floor is designed with three things in mind:

  1. Layout: how your products are arranged on the floor.
  2. Visual merchandising: how products are displayed.
  3. Customer journey: how customers move around the store.

Once you apply a combination of these elements, retailers stand to gain plenty of benefits from a sound sales floor plan. Get one wrong and customers may not stick around for long.

Why is your sales floor so important?

Your retail sales floor is important because it’s the first and often last thing customers see when they enter and exit your store. As the saying goes, first impressions count. Sure, the pandemic has deeply impacted how consumers prefer to shop, but recent studies suggest about 68% of consumers still shop in-person and take purchases home. This is why it’s important to make sure your sales floor is up to scratch.

Additionally, your sales floor:

Showcases your products in the best way: Your products are the lifeblood of your store, so it’s important they’re displayed in a way that makes them look appealing to customers. A cluttered, messy sales floor will do the opposite.

Builds trust with customers: An effective sales floor helps you build trust with customers. If a customer doesn’t trust your store, they’re unlikely to make a purchase.

Creates an enjoyable shopping experience: Your sales floor should be designed to make the shopping experience enjoyable for customers. Prices should be easy to find and products positioned to be accessible. If it’s not, customers are likely to take their business elsewhere.

Builds a connection with your customers and your brand: A retail sales floor should be designed to connect with your customers and your brand by reflecting your brand’s identity so it’s aligned with your company values.

Is customer-centric: Your sales floor should be designed with the customer in mind. This means it’s easy to navigate and understand with products that are clearly labeled and displayed.

Encourages customers to interact with products: A retail sales floor should be inviting as a way to encourage customers to interact with products. This can be done through visually appealing displays, product demonstrations, or other means.

Allows your sales associates to thrive: Depending on how it’s managed, your sales floor supports your sales associates and enables them to do their best work. They’re able to navigate the store around it with ease and easily point interested customers in the right direction if there are promotions or special sales.

Maximizes sales potential: Maximizing sales potential takes showcasing the right products at the right time with technology like shelf-edge labels. They can be changed quickly and easily to show real-time information like price, discounts, and stock levels. 

How to run the perfect retail sales floor

Running the perfect retail sales floor depends on a few variables, including your store size, time of the year, product offerings, sales strategy, and even the type of display equipment you’re working with. However, you can apply our best tips below to refine your retail sales floor for 2023.

Create an optimal sales floor layout

The first step to creating an effective sales floor is to develop a clear layout with customer traffic flow in mind. You want to create a space that is easy for customers to navigate. This means having a clear path from the entrance to the exit, and making sure there are plenty of aisle ways and open spaces. 

There are a few different ways to go about this. One option is to create a central main aisle with smaller aisles branching off of it. It’s a highly visual way to draw attention to your best products throughout each season. Whichever approach you take, be sure to leave plenty of space between fixtures and displays so that shoppers can move around easily.

There are plenty of retail store layouts to choose from that come with its set of benefits. Consider the following: 

  1. Grid: Merchandise is displayed in a long-isle format where customers weave through to find products. This layout is designed to maximize product display space and minimize empty white space.
  2. Herringbone: This layout is best for stores with lots of products but minimal space. Works great for warehouse style stores.
  3. Loop, or racetrack: This store layout creates a loop customers can walk around to look through products. Think of it as a racetrack with products in the middle as well as its outer perimeter.
  4. Free-flow: Layouts that don’t necessarily follow a particular placement pattern are considered free-flow. It’s designed to encourage customers to wander throughout the store.
  5. Boutique: These layouts typically separate products by an identifier like brand or category. It’s a great way to entice customers to interact with complimentary items as a way to increase basket size.

As you make a choice between layouts, consider the products you’re offering as well as what action you want your customers to take once they’re interacting with your layout. Over time, making better decisions about your store layouts will make an impact on your sales. 

Find the right sales floor associates

After you have a layout and traffic flow that makes sense for your store, it’s time to start thinking about who will staff your sales floor. The ideal retail associate is someone who is friendly and outgoing, but also knows how to give customers the space they need. They should be well-versed in your store’s policies and procedures, and be able to effectively communicate with customers.

It’s also important to consider the specific sales floor associate skills your store needs to succeed. 

Here are a few worth noting: 

  • General sales skills
  • Customer service training
  • Experience with POS software
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Basic math and money management skills

When training your sales floor associates, be sure to go over your store’s layout and traffic flow so they know where customers should go and how they should move around the sales floor. They should be aware of any sales and promotions worth promoting. 

Focus on the customer experience

Your sales floor plan should be designed with the customer experience in mind. From the moment shoppers walk into your store, consider what impression you want to make. Do you want to be known as the store with the best discounts? Make sure you set your sales promotions front and center.

As shoppers walk through the store, include clear signage where necessary. If they’re in need of additional customer support, your associates should easily be able to look up SKUs and inventory levels. Do your customers want to return an item? This is where POS solutions that make those processes a breeze help you create a positive customer impression. 

Finally, as your customers check out, you want to make the experience as smooth, secure, and hassle-free as you can. An integrated POS system with powerful automations so you’re always up to date with what’s in your store with the ability to print receipts and accept multiple payment types—including contactless payments—is key. 


  • Maintain a sales floor that is always clean and organized.
  • Ensure your products are displayed in an organized fashion.
  • Appeal to all five senses, if possible—music, scents, visuals, and even product demos help round out the customer experience.

Integrate ecommerce within your store

In today’s retail environment, a strong ecommerce presence is critical—even if you’re mostly focusing on brick-and-mortar sales. Buy online, pickup in-store, otherwise known as BOPIS, is part of a clicks to bricks business model that combines offline and online shopping so customers come into physical stores to pick up items they’ve ordered online. 

US shoppers spent more than $70 billion through a BOPIS setup. They cited convenience, saving time, and not wanting to pay for shipping as some of the top reasons why they used BOPIS to make purchases. Knowing this, it’s no longer good business practice to stick to one channel over the other. Instead, a multichannel experience that meets you shoppers where they’re at and makes it easy to purchase from you sets you up to capture more retail purchases. 

Here’s a BOPIS example from big-box store Target. It gives online shoppers the option to pick up the item in-store within two hours.

Product page on Target website showing the option to buy online and pick-up in-store

Combining ecommerce sales with physical sales means having a website that is easy to use and navigate that’s integrated with your sales floor. Customers should be able to easily find and purchase products online, with the option of in-store pickup. This provides a seamless and convenient shopping experience that’ll nurture customer loyalty

Embrace retail technology

Though retailers are understanding the importance of technology for their business, they’re generally slow to adopt them. Yet by being a retailer that embraces technology ahead of the pack, it may differentiate your in-store experience from your competitors. 

There are a number of retail technologies that can help to improve the customer experience, such as:

  • Self-checkout: Enable customers to check themselves out so they spend less time waiting in line. 
  • QR codes: Make your best retail offers and perks easier to access with smart-phone enabled QR codes
  • RFID technology: Make it easier for your sales associates to identify items with RFID placement. 

By integrating the technologies that increase the convenience factor, you can create a retail sales floor that is effective, efficient, and provides a great customer experience.

Your 2023 retail sales floor: leave nothing to chance

The retail sales floor is one of the most important aspects of any store. It’s where customers actually make their purchases and it’s the first impression that many shoppers will have of your business. With that in mind, you can’t afford to leave anything to chance when it comes to how your retail sales floor is laid out at any given time.

Retail sales floor FAQ

What is a sales floor?

A retail sales floor is the main selling area of a store managed by retail associates that’s filled with goods on display. It’s the first thing customers see when they enter your store and it can influence their purchasing decisions.

What is the best layout for a retail store?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The best layout for your store will depend on a number of factors, such as the type of store, the products you sell, the time of the year, and the size of your space.

What is a sales floor associate?

A sales floor associate is an employee who works on the sales floor of a store. They’re responsible for assisting customers, handling sales, and maintaining the appearance of the sales floor.

What does working on the sales floor mean?

Working on the sales floor means being responsible for assisting customers, handling sales, and maintaining the appearance of the sales floor.

This originally appeared on the Shopify Retail Blog and is made available here to cast a wider net of discovery.
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