So What Is Floor Planning, Exactly?

It’s that time of year again–decorations are up, your email’s chock full of holiday shopping offers, and you accidentally wasted a whole evening watching a Hallmark movie about two people who fall in love on Christmas due to machinations of their matchmaking cats (sadly, this is a real movie, and I can never get those two hours of my life back).   Despite all of the festive consumerism and made-for-tv movies, sometimes it’s tough to get into the holiday spirit.  If you’re stuck in a grinch-y rut, you know what I’ve found to be a helpful holiday mood-booster? If you said talking about floor planning, then you’re absolutely correct.

What, you think floor planning isn’t something your organization needs to invest in?

You’re wrong.  I’d tell you just how wrong you are if I  had the knowledge or inclination to do so, but since I am sadly lacking, I am going to pass the soapbox over to Jason Trail, who possesses both.

So What’s A Floorplan, and Why Is It Important?

By Jason Trail, Floor and Space Planning Solution Architect

So what’s a floorplan?  A floorplan is the merchandise plan that provides an overview of how products are displayed and grouped, and is often referred to as “macro space planning”.

With the constantly changing retail landscape, retailers are placing a greater focus on macro space planning in order to maximize sales and profits in each location.  A floorplan not only helps to maximize each location’s potential, but also provides a way to communicate the desired merchandising directions to each store in order to ensure consistent and accurate execution.

Too often a store’s floorplan is overlooked as one of the most important assets.  The floorplan’s definition of how space is allocated can either enhance the customer’s experience or drive a customer away when the layout fails to meet their expectations.  A confusing layout, or one where product adjacencies do not relate to how customers tend to shop, can lead a customer to believe that the item that they are looking for is not carried or out of stock, leading to lost sales and potentially driving a customer to a competitor.

When developing a floorplan several factors need to be addressed:

How detailed will the floorplan be?

    • Will the plan contain all merchandising directions?
    • Will the plan be used to provide fixture information for ordering?
    • Will the plan be the current record of fixture locations in the store or will other plans hold all non-merchandise direction?

Is the floorplan just a representation of a store or is it location-specific?

    • Cluster or Store level?

How will the information contained in the floorplan be communicated?

Has Space Productivity been taken into account to determine the allocation of space in the store?

    • Sales/profit per square foot
    • Sales/profit per linear foot
    • Inventory turns

Merchandising guidelines

    • Required adjacencies
    • Fixture type requirements

These factors all need to be reviewed and addressed before creating a floorplan, but there’s also an additional overlooked factor—the key to developing a successful and well executed floorplan is to ensure that there’s an accurate representation of what the current layout of the store is before plans are created, or to supply a mechanism for stores to provide feedback when the floorplan does not match real world conditions.  When there is no knowledge of the actual conditions at the store level, historical metrics used to make merchandising decisions can often be skewed, impacting decisions on a product or category’s performance.

As more retailers focus on maximizing the ROI of their selling space within each store, the floorplan will become a useful tool to help guide merchandising decisions, customer flow patterns, and even capital expenditures for resets, remodels, and new store development.


Jason Trail is a floor and space planning domain expert with over twenty years of experience in retail.  He eats, breathes, and lives excellence everyday, and has probably never shaved a few points off his own IQ score by watching the Nine Live of Christmas on Hallmark.

Thanks Jason, that was super-edifying!  Now that there are visions of floorplans dancing in your head, we’d like to take the opportunity to wish you all a safe and happy holiday season, and a prosperous 2015!

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