What should I do with the dead space in my store?

One of the cardinal rules in retail land is, no dead space. This applies to refrigerated cabinets, shelves and floor space. The idea of unused or empty space sends a negative message to customers. Space should be addressed like real estate; driven strategically keeping your retail space full, without being cluttered. So what do you do if that dead space is your space? Here are some practical tips I use to help other retail businesses create stronger layouts. 

Floor Space

Whilst there needs to be customer flow within your business, don’t miss the opportunity to create hotspots on the shop floor. Take unused floor space and create an installation dedicated to highlighting something significant. This might seasonality, a small producer or featured product of the month. Taking unused floor space and creating a well-merchandised hotspot, will only add to the customer experience and your till.

WBC dresses Valentina Restaurant

Countertop Space

Countertops should always have a good selection of impulse buys. If you’re a food business, that might include small indulgent morsels. If you’re a lifestyle company, you may have price sensitive and attractive add-on items that support your core range. No matter how you see it, the counter is the last point in your business before the customer pays. It’s your last chance to make a sale, so use it wisely.

In high peak times, countertop displays can go from being fully stocked to looking very depleted in moments. Should this be the case, those empty pockets need to be filled.

Two quick ways to fill countertops when time or circumstance is against you:

  1. Fill pockets of dead space with sturdy packaged products that have a longer shelf life. This doesn’t mean products that are filled with additives. This does mean products such as biscotti, biscuits or even granola which when packaged, have a 1-3 day shelf life.
  2. If you are a lifestyle business, ready-made hampers on your counters can easily fill dead space while actually promoting another service within your business at the same time.

Wall Space

Not every wall in your business needs to be filled. There may be one or two which can add to your customer experience. Walls in key areas have great potential for strong communications. I don’t necessarily from just a commercial sense. Even a community notice board, on a dead space wall, for example, can silently speak volumes about your business.

Furthermore, dead space walls could also be used to communicate details about your suppliers, company values or healthy food messages. All this reinforces your brand and where positioned carefully give you the perfect opportunity to communicate who you are and what you believe in as a business.

Shelf Space

More often than not, when shelves go thin, retailers add quadruple lines of the same product to fill the space. Nothing says, “I have nothing to sell,” then four lines of tomato soup!

A far more effective use of space might be to add interesting signage on the shelves adjacent to the products which either gives supplemental information on the product like provenance and what makes it special. This form of communication will fill the dead shelf space, but at the same time add inspiration through storytelling, and storytelling sells.

Props too are a wonderful and romantic way to fill dead space on shelves. The effective use of props is to use ones that relate to your business in some way or create some kind of theatre. Otherwise, props just become nic-nacs which is not the idea.

WBC has re-introduced its merchandsing prop shop which can be shopped by visiting our showroom in south east London, or calling our team and reserving something you like. Our instagram listing of current props available is here.


Refrigerator Space

Refrigerator displays such as cheese displays or vertical sandwich units, all need to look full until closing time which is not always easy as both of these items have waste cost implications. Effective ways of building in bulk for refrigerated displays which are depleting is as follows:

  • Poly wicker baskets are a great way to house products and build bulk to displays.
  • Large display products, such as marble trays or galvanised trays will not only ‘show off ‘your products in a lovely way, but also fill any gaps in your display.
  • Point of sale communications can also help with unused refrigerated space. Key points here would be to speak directly about ingredients to reinforce provenance message.

Usually empty spaces in a business is a sign that trade is strong and healthy, and that is great. However empty space can also be perceived to the contrary, but the good news is witrh clever merchandising, it’s something you can definitely learn to avoid.

To shop retail signage, fixtures and counter top display products visit wbc.co.uk today

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