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How to Save Space in a Start-Up Retail Store

Your start-up retail store can be put virtually anywhere. There’s at least one hole-in-the-wall retailer somewhere in every city, which is probably not doing too shabby in the profit-to-rent ratio department.

Some retail stores are large and expansive, while others are small and cozy. Naturally, a smaller retail store has limited space than its larger counterparts.

A lack of space isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s certainly a challenge. It can take creativity, tact, and a bit of sales science to know precisely how to maximize and use what you have in a space.

Here are a few tips, tricks, and strategies on how you can save space in a start-up retail store:

1. Use Vertical Retail Shelving

A popular idea is to use vertical shelving. By creating vertical layers with retail shelving, you avoid things looking messy or overstocked.

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You can feature more products and even have a little bit of surface area on top of the shelving for décor, storage, or other uses. Fortunately, a vertical setup is what most customers are used to, so it’s a natural way to save space.

2. Thinner Aisles, Thinner Shelves

Shorten up the distance from shelf to shelf in your aisles and create a thinner walking path. Furthermore, ensure your shelving is not very deep, either.

This is a common mistake a lot of retail store managers make. They take shelving with way more space than they need.

It’s far less challenging to work with limited shelf space than it is to work with too much in a small space. Optimize the shelving depth you are working with and customize it only to what you need.

3. Wall Mount Displays

A complementary approach to retail shelving is to use wall mount displays. If you have a lot of a specific product, such as a particular type of clothing, you can craft a wall display with multiple mounted shelves or individual hooks to present your best products.

While you don’t have enough space to put in feature displays, wall-mounted displays can attract the eye in a way standard shelving can’t. It’s a smart move if you have minimal horizontal space and tall ceilings.

4. Less Product on Shelves

The more product in a small space, the more cluttered it’s going to feel. Be careful with how much product you put on or in your displays.

If you know you have lots of storage, you may even want to hold back the majority of what’s in stock. Instead, create some separation between products. A more simplistic, minimalistic approach can sometimes sell more products in a small retailer.

5. Make Sure Your Store Is Properly Lit

If your space is not properly lit, it’s going to feel smaller than it is. This suggestion is admittedly less about saving space and more about creating it. Ensure you have lighting everywhere. Lighting shouldn’t be in the way, of course.

However, you should have it in every dark corner. Few customers will approach a spot in a store that is improperly lit. Those spaces may as well not even exist if they don’t have adequate lighting.

Take a look at how your lighting is positioned to make your products stand out.

6. No Elaborate Space-Taking Décor

You might enter into a retail store and see a fairly elaborate décor setup and think, “This could work for us.” No, it can’t… if you are in a small space.

Some décor is alright, especially if it’s completely out of the way, such as hanging décor or signage. That said, any large elaborate theatrical-like décor should be put up for removal if they aren’t serving a strong purpose in generating sales.

7. Use Other Non-Shelving Displays

For small products, they could be taking up shelving space they don’t need to. Consider non-shelving alternative displays for certain things:

  • A keychain rack for keychain-sized items
  • A bulletin board
  • A freestanding floor bin

Use products that can serve multiple purposes. For example, when not in use during brainstorming sessions or meetings, custom-printed glass whiteboards also double as on-brand wall decor. You just need to choose a whiteboard design that fits the vibe of your office.

There are lots of adaptive ways to cluster together products that are alike. It will free up some shelf space while making the most of the space you do have.

By installing non-shelving displays where appropriate, you may even find you can knock out a shelf or two.

8. Push Retail Shelving Against the Wall

If you are in a small, small retail store, here’s the best thing you can do. Have an open-concept interior design style. Remove everything in the middle.

Have it as a totally open space, as recommended by Shopify. Push all of your retail shelving against the wall and set your product there.

Anything that doesn’t fit, put it in storage, in the back, or hold it off the floor. Focus a little more on your wall décor and create appeal.

This is what many, many stores do fabulously and it’s a simple way to operate in a very small setting.

9. Re-Design According to What’s Selling

At a certain point, you have to look at your sales numbers and acknowledge what’s selling the most and what isn’t. As for what isn’t, you can either shrink the product’s area, move it, or eliminate it. As for what is selling, you may even want to grow its area if you think it is appropriate.

All in all, it doesn’t hurt once a year to look at your purchase data and consider optimizing the space you have accordingly. You can save a lot of space on this data alone.


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