Boost Retail Revenue – the Psychology of a Store Layout

by Jayme Nelson

The retail world can be a hectic environment with thousands of customers invading large stores every day. These busy retail centers can often feel as if they’re one malfunctioning cash register from total chaos. But ask an experienced retail professional, and they will tell you there is a method to the madness. The method comes from generations of trial and error, research, and experimentation. It’s known as retail psychology. Let’s take a look at the most traditional forms of retail psychology and a few game-changers that can boost revenue from one store to the next.

Introduce Yourself to the Customer


Many store owners are hesitant to use window displays because it prevents shoppers from looking inside the store. But shoppers aren’t always looking for products right away; they’re more likely to be getting a first impression --- much like a human interaction --- by scanning the store for style and personality. This is the store’s opportunity to introduce itself, grab the shopper’s attention and keep it. Window displays allow store owners to tell a story, promote a deal or even directly interact with the potential customer. If your retail space is on the smaller side, these introductions become even more important, so take a chance and make a memorable introduction.

Colors Affect Emotions

A related field to retail psychology is color psychology. Research has long shown that colors can have a profound effect on our emotions --- spurring us to action, calming us down, or even making us more optimistic. So it goes without saying that incorporating these ideas into your retail space is a no-brainer. Here’s a breakdown of colors and their associated ideas and emotions:

  • Red: Urgency, aggression, energy. Red could be valuable if promoting a sale.

  • Orange: Liveliness, creativity, value. The big idea that jumps out here is value. Using orange in your retail space can actually make your products appear more valuable.

  • Yellow: Joy, life, warmth. While yellow has positive associations, it can be difficult to read. It works better as a secondary color in your displays.

  • Green: Nature, growth, life. Green could be used if your products have a tie to nature or your brand would like to instill trust.

  • Blue: Calmness, trust. Blue is the safest choice of all, but it might not encourage the action and impulsivity that is important in a retail setting.

Lead the Customer

Customers may make their way around a store without much thought as to the direction they’re walking. They enter through the doors, scan the room and instinctively start to the right. This is likely because of previous experience and American traffic laws that put us on the right side of the road. Retailers should set up their stores with this tendency in mind. If you have a particular product or service you want more attention on, set it up just to the right of the entrance. As customers enter, they naturally will be drawn to the display, not because of its aesthetic quality, but simply because of its placement.


It’s important that stores continue to light the path through the store, especially in large retail spaces. Customers don’t always know where to go when they reach the end of an aisle or section. Using floor graphics is a strategy for engaging customers by taking advantage of space and eye-level advertising. 

Customers Avoid an Existential Threat

One relatively new theory in retail psychology comes from the earliest of days. The theory goes: The human brain is wired to survive and protect you from any danger. One of these dangers is sharp corners. When the brain sees a sharp corner, it instinctively knows to avoid it. In a study from Retail Customer Experience, display devices with round edges outperformed displays with sharp edges by 15 percent when comparing sales.


A study from Retail Customer Experience revealed yet another fascinating insight: An aisle that uses natural textures outperforms an aisle the features artificial surfaces. That doesn’t mean you should start growing grass in your store, but you can use this finding to make customers feel more comfortable. The same study showed that simulating these surfaces or experiences --- a green floor graphic or the sounds of a waterfall --- can have the same positive effect on customers. 

There are countless small details that can give a retail store a big advantage. Not only are retailers trying to inspire a quick-hit emotion, they’re now even considering the human’s prehistoric instincts to drive sales. It’s a fascinating strategy that’s often underestimated. How can you use the psychology of your store’s layout to attract customers and keep them coming back? Contact us at 800-FASTSIGNS to get started on your next strategy.