4 ways to maximise small retail spaces

We look at the way that small, independent businesses can use their small spaces to their advantage, creating great interiors that draw customers in - and keep them coming back.

When it comes to retail, it’s not uncommon to find that many businesses started out in small spaces. From Holland & Barrett to Blackwell’s, businesses that are now large chains once existed as just one store - and these are the ones that survived those tricky first few years.

Unfortunately, lots of small businesses fall at the first hurdle. To help owners of small spaces use their interiors to their advantage, we've created a quick guide will explain how a small business can use a few design and marketing tips to really make a small space work:

Think of the Exterior

It might sound counter intuitive to begin an interiors guide with the exteriors, but trust us on this one. Small retail spaces also tends to mean small windows - their presence on the high street is limited. The temptation might be to fill the window with marketing materials, but this approach can leave a shop’s interior feeling cramped and lacking in natural light.

Instead, by making a window as transparent as possible, the shop can be flooded with natural light, making it appear welcoming and interesting for passersby. Something this simple could be the difference between a business staying afloat or not. Combine a welcoming window with a sandwich board outside for an all-time classic marketing technique.

Point of Sale Can’t Fail

Point of sale (POS) refers to exactly where customers will make the buying transaction. Essentially, the POS is the till area in any small retail space. This spot has always been a great place to promote small impulse buy items - including snacks or drinks - and a small business shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to use this strategy in the same way that large companies do.

A few small scale, customisable display units next to the till can work wonders for impulse buying or drawing in a customer's interest. However, you need to make sure the products fit into the ethos of brand that you are trying to create - try to avoid making this space too pushy or overwhelming, as this can affect the whole store.

Effective In-Store Branding

On the subject of in-store branding, a small retail space will really benefit from learning how to harness this - because it can often be a tricky beast to handle. Small items like shelf wobblers are a great option. This type of marketing material can draw attention towards a particular item you are looking to sell more of - without taking up much needed floor space.

One of the main problems small retailers face is competition from online giants like Amazon. The temptation among shop-goers is to buy online after seeing the product they want in a physical store - which is dangerous for retailers, as they’re treated as nothing more than a showroom. Using in-store branding materials like shelf wobblers to print a QR code that takes the customer to the shop’s website, offering discounts or a home delivery, is a great way to avoid a sale drifting away to an online superstore.

Make It Easy to Navigate

While there is certainly something evocative about getting lost, or wandering around a shop crammed to the rafters with stock, it simply isn’t practical in a small space. In some cases, it can lead to concerns regarding claustrophobia and disability access.

Be smart and sightline-aware when filling smaller interiors: nobody likes being hemmed in by shelves, unable to see shop assistants. Your customers are more likely to become regulars if your retail space is calm, ordered and easy to navigate - another aspect that will ultimately decide whether a business sinks or swims.

This list isn’t exhaustive, and the small business sector is full of innovations that are all about maximising a small retail space. So, if you’re a business owner, get creative with your ideas and watch as your small store moves one step closer to increased success.

Guest post by Tegan Denwood

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