Engineering blog
24 Nov 2021

Top 8 Elements of Retail Design to Drive Sales

  • BluEnt
  • Millwork
  • 5 minutes
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Person walking inside shopping area in Melbourne, Australia

If you run a brick-and-mortar store, even if it’s in tandem with an eCommerce business, you need to provide proper retail design. This is because people’s attention is held with things that are visually stimulating and attractive.

From the retail millwork to the store layout, we’ll outline some insights that you can use to help boost your sales. The devil’s in the details. Let’s get started.

Introduction: What is Retail Design?

Retail interior design refers to how you design and organize a retail space. It is largely responsible for welcoming customers, guiding them around your shop, encouraging them to take an interest in your products, and inspiring them to make a purchase.

Contrary to popular assumption, retail design does not refer solely to merchandising products. While merchandising is an important part of store design, there are other crucial factors at play.

Retail interior design involves your whole space, from the entryway to the checkout display, since each element influences your customers’ decision to make a purchase.

If you’re not certain where to get started, we’ll be covering some of the basics for developing an effective retail store layout to help attract and retain customers.

What is Involved in Store Design?

Retail interior design involves many disciplines, aside from strategy, that work together:

  1. Retail architecture: The store will, of course, sit inside a building, so architecture will be involved. This will also involve floor plans and other interior construction drawings.

  2. Product design: Your products themselves can become part of your retail design and be exhibited in creative ways. You can use 3D rendering to get an idea of what this will look like before the design is actually put in place.

  3. Installations: These can be made to attract more customers and build up hype.

Top 8 Elements of Retail Design

1. Take Advantage of Color Psychology

Customers connect with colors more than most people realize: over half of customers’ first impressions are made based on color.

For example, if I say “Starbucks green” or “Target red”, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about without even thinking about it. That’s the power of color and association, and it can work wonders for your brand. To help you make a decision, we’ve covered the top color choices for commercial design.

A vibrant color scheme can great a positive experience. However, too much color can be overwhelming and cause customers to leave without buying anything. They will also be unlikely to return.

2. Focus on the Decompression Zone

The decompression zone, also called the threshold area, is the crucial first area that prospective buyers step into when they enter your shop. Generally it consists of the first 5 to 15 feet of space, depending on your store’s size.

  • The threshold area is where your customers make the important transition from the outside world to your store.

  • This is the point where customers will make snap judgments on your store: your colors, fixtures, millwork, lighting, displays, and overall vibe.

  • Because shoppers will be in “transition mode”, they will probably miss the products, carts and signage you have placed in the decompression zone.

  • Bearing this in mind, your retail design should gently ease your customers inside rather than overwhelming them. Hence, your threshold area should lean towards calm and subtle.

  • Helpful signage should be placed farther inside the store, or just outside the door, before customers enter.

3. Create an Immersive Experience

Remember, you want to offer your customers a fantastic experience, not just great products.

When developing your shop interior design, think of answers to the following questions:

  • What is the experience you want your customers to have?

  • Which feelings do you want to evoke in them?

Whether you want an air that is artsy, soothing, sleek, or anything else, make sure all the elements of your store come together for it.

Immersive experience Harrods, Brompton Road, London, Wielka Brytania

4. Add Breaks

If your store has the exact same look and feel throughout, your customers can end up skipping over your products.

For this reason, avoid too many long, uninterrupted aisles. Instead, develop visual breaks in the middle of long aisles, such as displays, information, interactive elements like touch screens, or even AR.

How often you switch up your displays also matters. In retail, displays become stale rather quickly. Seasons and holidays only last for a while, and promotional goods do not have a long shelf life. Hence, it is recommended that you change your displays monthly and feature new arrivals first.

5. Make Your Space Photogenic

We live in the Instagram age – or at least the social media age.

People love to document and share their experiences, and you’ll benefit by giving them a great opportunity to do so. Encourage your shoppers to take photos inside your store and share them online.

One good way to do this is by creating attractive displays specifically meant for taking photos. It should not just show off beautiful or interesting aspects of your store, but make your customers look good. Make sure you do a trial run with various cameras beforehand.

You could even display witty or interesting lines or quotes. Stacks House did such as thing, with the line, “You look like a billion dollars.”

6. Pave a Path for Customers

Your customers should have a clear path through your store. This path will vary depending on your store layout and size, and also your use of furniture, racks, displays and other items and tools.

  • Note that most shoppers naturally turn right. As they do, try to make sure they check out more of your products.

  • A good shopping path will both increase chances of shoppers making a purchase and control foot traffic. This will further help you manage busy periods.

  • Most retail stores utilize a counterclockwise path towards the end of the store and then back.

7. Leave Enough Space

Most shoppers, particularly women, dislike browsing in aisles where they could brush against another shopper’s backside. (Consumer behavior expert Paco Underhill coined the term the “butt-brush effect” for this.) This remains true even for products the customer really wants.

Avoid this by ensuring that your displays and aisles give enough room for personal space while browsing.

Enough space The Bakery, Brompton Road, London

8. Display Impulse-Buy Items at the Checkout Counter

Many customers decide to make an additional purchase at the checkout counter. Encourage them to do so by setting up displays at your counter. They don’t have to be fancy or large – simple, easy ones work well.


With the retail landscape so competitive these days, it is imperative to use all good techniques at your disposal and within your budget to attract and retain customers.

Part of this is using great millwork to create the ambience and practicality that you want. And what’s great millwork without accurate millwork shop drawings?

BluEntCAD provides millwork drafting services to interior design companies, custom furniture manufacturers, casework companies, millwork shops, signage manufacturers, prefabricated home designers, and fencing/deck manufacturers for large to medium-sized commercial, hospitality, infrastructure and residential projects.

Ready to make your store a success with millwork shop drawings services? Contact us now!

Maximum Value. Achieved.



Your Citation

CAD Evangelist. "Top 8 Elements of Retail Design to Drive Sales" CAD Evangelist, Nov. 24, 2021,

CAD Evangelist. (2021, November 24). Top 8 Elements of Retail Design to Drive Sales. Retrieved from

CAD Evangelist. "Top 8 Elements of Retail Design to Drive Sales" CAD Evangelist (accessed November 24, 2021 ).

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