Posted on: 07 February 2020

How you can improve your business by understanding your customers

Shopper behaviour is something that has become increasingly important to understand when it comes to the design of any shop whether it’s a convenience store or clothes shop, newsagents or garden centre.

Did you know that there have been in-depth studies that show how customers interact when they go on their shopping trips? Read below to see some of the facts about how shoppers behave.

Customer behaviours

The Shopping List

In-Store Media found that 92% of shoppers will plan what they are going to buy before going into the shop, which means that you will need to organise your store in a way that customers can easily find what they are looking for.

You will also need to be clever about the placement of your impulse buys, because if customers already know what they’re looking for, they may be less likely to look around for special offers.

Customer Journey

Mapping out how customers move around your store can give you a vital insight into whether the layout of your store works.

You may need to do your own research into how customers move around but this can be a time-consuming process. Alternatively, you could use an external research company, however, this can be expensive.

A customer’s journey around your store will also likely depend on what they are looking to buy from your store, and how long they have to shop.

To the right…

Display Mode reported the term “The Invariant Right”, which is a reference to the belief that customers entering a shop will head into the right-hand side, and navigate the store counter-clockwise. Research suggests this is simply because most people are right-handed.

Because of this, it may be prudent to place items that you want to bring to your customers’ attention on the right side of the entrance. This kind of display is often called a power wall and is there to make a good impression on your customers.

Where to checkout

The location of your checkout can affect your sales. Having the checkout at the back of the store encourages customers to explore the whole store, whereas customers could simply look for what they need and exit without making additional purchases if the tills are at the front.

Because of the Invariant Right, outlined above, it was also concluded that it might be better to have your checkout to the left of your store, as this is the logical place that your customers will end their shopping run if exploring anti-clockwise.

Impulse buying

Ever been waiting at the checkout and been tempted to buy one of the small items on display? You’re not alone! Finder reported that 78.2% of UK adults had bought something impulsively when shopping. The BBC reported that 83% of parents saying that their children had pestered them for treats at supermarket tills.

If you are putting impulse buy items by your checkout, some of the top items were chocolate/ sweets,  books, magazines, stationery and kitchen gadgets.

How to layout your shop

Shops are normally laid out in one of four ways, the grid, the herringbone, the loop or free-flow. We will show you how each one of these looks and tell you a bit about each layout.


The grid is what you will tend to find in most supermarkets, but can be used for a variety of different types of shop.

This type of layout maximises the amount of space for your products, with space around the outside and in the middle aisles for products that you can put into categories.

You could put impulse buy items, such as chocolate bars, by the till for those last-minute selections.

This layout works well for stores that have lots of varied items and allows the optimum amount of exposure of products to customers, who will also become familiar with the layout, making it easier for them to find things. This layout can also be useful to control how customers move around the store, making accidents less likely.

However, aisles can feel cramped and blockages can happen when shoppers who know exactly what they need collide with browsers who move more slowly around your store.


The Herringbone layout works great for those shops that have long narrow spaces, as you can fit a lot into the shop without having to worry about room.

The Herringbone shares similarities with the Grid system, but with slightly different pros and cons.

This style of store works well if you sell products that don’t require splitting into different categories, or if you have either a small amount of space to work with or a warehouse-style store.

However, there is a danger of limited visibility of some stock items which are hidden behind shelving as well as the aisles feeling a little cramped. This limited visibility could also prove useful to thieves, who could hide items without you noticing.


The loop system is designed to take customers around the whole of the store and eventually to the checkout through one singular pathway.

This layout will give your products the maximum amount of exposure to all customers and they might even pick up something they weren’t expecting to buy. This kind of layout can also offer your customers a chance to look through new products that they may not have considered before. This layout mainly works best for those customers who aren’t pressed for time.

However, this layout can be frustrating for customers who may be in a rush, or know what they are looking for because they will have to navigate the whole store to find what they need. This layout may not be suitable if you have a high customer turnover, such as a convenience store.


A free-flow layout is where there is no particular layout to the store to encourage customers down a certain avenue.

This kind of layout works well for shops that might sell high-value items, as a small, unstructured space can prove difficult when trying to maximise product visibility.

The downside of this layout is that if your products are sold quickly then you will constantly have to navigate the layout to replenish stock.

Retail insurance with Premierline

Because of the huge amount of diversity in the retail industry, getting your retail insurance right can be a challenge. You will face many unique risks depending on the kind of products that you sell and whether or not you sell your products online.

At Premierline, we understand the risks that retailers face, which is why our business insurance experts will assess your business’ needs and will help find insurance quotes that are right for your business. Get in touch to speak to a business insurance professional today.

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The information and tools contained in this guide are of a general informational nature and should not be relied upon as being suitable for any specific set of circumstances. We have used reasonable endeavours to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the contents but the information and tools do not constitute professional advice and must not be relied upon as such. To the extent permitted by law, we do not accept responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information or tools in our Insight Hub.