Store Design and Layout

We have some exciting and different convenience store models being rolled out currently, which can only be good for the industry. Nothing like a good broom, some fresh air and some new ideas to grow the business!  I just hope they have long pockets as it is going to cost plenty to change their business footprint – whatever has been set aside to implement this is going to cost at least double going forward – I have done it before, so I know.

 Ok so let’s take a closer look at what we have on offer from a design point of view. We will look at the other areas, such as offerings, pricing and the rest later. We have Freshstop and Pick and Pay Express. What they both have in common is the same ridiculous layout. Imagine being a cashier in either store! Would any of you like to do this job yourself – honestly?

Just think about it.  You see the door opening but you have no idea whether there are one, two or more customers that have entered the store! You cannot even see the aisles from where you sit/stand! Nobody comes to the till for ages, yet you know that the door was opened a while ago…what do you do? Leave your till to find them, wait until they have taken what they need and left through the door again without paying (not applicable in P&P Express)?

As a customer how do I feel –just bloody awful. In the P&P Express, you walk in one door, amber through aisles where you cannot see the next aisle, and have to leave through a separate door. What happens if the guys are drunk and are intent on causing mischief? (Stoned if you live in Cape Town).     

 And now I am just being kind – what about gun toting individuals? Hell I would not let my kids into these stores, day or night. The poor cashiers cannot even see the forecourt for the most part, their backs are against the wall!

 Quite ridiculous and any savvy customer will not enter these stores. Who designs them? I know from my past life just how difficult it is to get extra linear meters out of these stores which were built in an era long gone past.  And any retailer will want each square inch to work for him so every linear meter counts, but not at the cost of safety.

Now just imagine, you walk into a store through one door marked “entrance only”. Then you meander through the store and come towards the till with the goods you wanted to purchase in your hands – and there in front of you is a hold up. You can’t go backwards because the door doesn’t open the other way. Talk about claustrophobia! It was instant for me – perhaps because I have been caught so many times before in our stores.

No there was no hold up while I was there – I just imagined what it would be like to be in the store when it happens (present tense implied here). The whole point of being well lit, visible – was to make the customer feel secure while shopping in our stores! Day and night!

I have one question to ask the guys that designed these stores. Would you let your children shop in these stores? The magazine racks in the Freshstop hide all view of everything in the store including your vision of your kids shopping in the store.  Just think about it….

Take care out there!

 Jocelyn Daly

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