Retail store layout design – 4 types you need to know about

The retail store layout design is crucial in shaping the customer’s overall experience. For clothing stores, in particular, visual merchandising store designs influence customer satisfaction. These displays affect browsing behaviours and their advantages, playing a role in your boutique’s overall success.


Grid Retail Store Layout Design

grid retail store layout design

The grid floor layout is the most common and straightforward in retail store layout designs. This store layout involves arranging the fixtures and merchandise in long rows or columns to create aisles. This retail store design allows the customer to walk systematically through your retail store. This increases browsing time, before making purchasing decisions.

For clothing stores, this can be effective when a store has large amounts of merchandise to showcase. This makes it easy for customers to find different sizes and styles. This retail store layout design is great for encouraging impulse purchases as customers move through the store.


Some advantages of using the grid layout within your clothing store design are:

  1. This layout is a more efficient use of space for larger quantities of merchandise.
  2. Using aisles creates easy navigation for customers, controlling the traffic pathways.
  3. The method of visual merchandising store design allows for boutiques to display a diverse range of products effectively.


Disadvantages to consider when looking into this floor layout:

  1. This retail design method may seem too strict for clothing stores wanting a more personalised customer experience.
  2. Aisles can become cramped if they are not wide enough for multiple customers.
  3. The few visual breaks can become overwhelming for customers.


Loop Layout Store Design


loop visual merchandising store design

The loop layout, also known as the racetrack layout, guides your customers through a predefined path that loops through the store. This retail store layout design encourages your customers to explore the whole section seamlessly. The layout encourages the customer to move from one section to another in a fluid manner.

Clothing stores and boutiques use the loop layout to highlight different collections or styles more strategically. This clothing store design ensures customers encounter and interact with key displays and promotions while browsing the store.


When considering the loop layout for your retail store, some advantages include:

  1. This layout promotes product exposure and as a result creates an increase in impulse purchases.
  2. Using the forced pathway, it’s easy to predict the traffic flow and strategically place promotional displays.
  3. Allows you to take the customer on a journey through the store as they follow the traffic path.


Some disadvantages to consider when choosing the loop layout are:

  1. Retail stores with a higher traffic volume should avoid this layout to avoid congestion.
  2. Smart shoppers will get frustrated at the potential wasted time, leading them to avoid this store.
  3. Customers have no control over their browsing path which can cause frustration.


Free-Flow Layout

free-form clothing store design

The free-flow retail store design is the simplest floor layout of the variations. This is because of the creative freedom in the traffic pathways. However, this fact makes it the most complicated of the various layouts.

This retail store design encourages creativity in your store and offers the most flexibility. To get this look means placing your retail displays, racks, and fixtures in irregular arrangements. This helps to create various zones or areas within your clothing store or boutique.

This store design is great for creating a special atmosphere or showcasing a specific theme in your retail store. By allowing your customer to explore freely throughout your store, the free-flow layout encourages the customer to browse. This lets customers discover products on their own and creates a sense of exclusivity.


Advantages of using the free-flow layout are:

  1. This layout creates a more personal and boutique experience for the customer.
  2. Better suited to stores that have less merchandise to display.
  3. Customers can follow a unique path, making congestion less likely.


When using this floor layout, some disadvantages are:

  1. These types of store designs often result in less space for product displays
  2. If not planned well, this layout can be confusing for customers to try and navigate.
  3. This retail store requires frequent rearranging to maintain its visual appeal for customers.


Herringbone Store Layout. 

grid retail store design

The grid floor layout might work for your merchandising requirements but not work in the space of your retail store. This is when you should consider the herringbone store layout design.

This retail design uses blocked-off sections to create a center aisle in the store. This aisle is a long passage with side aisles that lead into each block of displays.


A few advantages of this retail store layout design are:

  1. This retail layout works well for stores with a large amount of merchandise to display but limited space.
  2. This layout is best for warehouse-type spaces to create a sense of structure.
  3. Can use each section to create visual breaks, preventing the customer from getting overwhelmed.


Some disadvantages to the herringbone design to consider are:

  1. Low visibility of the “sideroads” creates an increased opportunity for shoplifting and petty theft.
  2. Ill-planned aisles cause congestion in the traffic flow for customers.
  3. Too many sections in your retail store leave the space feeling cramped or too small for the merchandise.



Choosing the right store layout for a clothing boutique means balancing aesthetic appeal and practical considerations. A retail store owner needs to ensure they use the space in the best way possible while ensuring the customer has the best experience. Regardless of the retail store layout design used in the space, each approach offers a distinct advantage to your business.

Understanding your business strategy and customer demographics means you can create an engaging and memorable shopping experience. Incorporating these understandings into your visual merchandising store design will set your clothing store up for success.

Not sure where to start? Apex Display offers a 5 Step Design Process that includes an in-depth consultation about your retail needs. With over 50 years of retail experience, our design service offers a great solution for you.

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