Store Design Glossary

Glossary of Store Design


Definition: The pathway created by arranging merchandise shelves or displays where customers can walk through the store.

Importance: Aisles guide customer traffic flow and can determine the shopping experience. Wide aisles can make shopping more comfortable, while narrow aisles can make a store feel cramped.

Ambient Lighting:

Definition: The main source of light in a store. General lighting that illuminates the entire store. It sets the mood and ensures customers can see the merchandise.

Importance: It sets the mood for the store and ensures that products are visible. Poor ambient lighting can make a store feel unwelcoming or make products hard to see.

Anchor Store:

Definition: A primary, often larger, retailer in a shopping center that attracts significant customer traffic. A large and well-known store in a shopping mall or complex that attracts customers and drives traffic to smaller retailers.

Importance: They serve as a draw for smaller retailers in the vicinity, boosting overall foot traffic in a mall or shopping center.

Boutique Layout:

Definition: A layout that prioritizes an intimate, personalized shopping experience. A store layout designed to create a cozy, intimate shopping environment. This layout often uses mixed fixtures and varied spaces.

Importance: Used by specialty stores to provide a unique shopping environment that encourages browsing and longer store visits.

Break-Out Area:

Definition: Designated relaxation or product trial areas. A designated area in a store where customers can sit, relax, or even try out products.

Importance: Enhances customer experience by providing rest spaces or interactive product testing zones.

Cash Wrap:

Definition: Checkout areas where transactions occur. The area where customers pay for their purchases, usually containing the point of sale (POS) system and often located at the front of the store.

Importance: Efficient cash wrap design can reduce waiting times and positively influence last-minute impulse purchases.

Cold Spot:

Definition: Areas with low foot traffic. An area in the store that receives less foot traffic. Store designers try to reconfigure layouts to minimize these areas.

Importance: Identifying cold spots can help retailers reconfigure their layout or introduce promotions to increase traffic.

Cross Merchandising:

Definition: Displaying complementary products from different categories together. Displaying products from different categories together to encourage customers to buy them as a set or to highlight complementary products.

Importance: Encourages additional purchases by showing customers how different products can be used together.

Display Window:

Definition: Front-facing window displays. The windowed front area of a store where merchandise is displayed to attract customers walking by.

Importance: Acts as a store’s advertisement, enticing potential customers inside.

End Cap:

Definition: Promotional displays at aisle ends. A display at the end of an aisle, often used for promotional or featured items.

Importance: Highly visible and ideal for showcasing promotional or new items to boost sales.

Feature Lighting:

Definition: Lighting designed to highlight specific products or areas. Specific lighting used to highlight certain areas or products within a store.

Importance: Draws attention to key products or promotions, influencing purchasing decisions.


Definition: Equipment for displaying merchandise. The furniture or equipment, like shelves and racks, used to display merchandise.

Importance: Determines product visibility and accessibility, influencing shopping experience and sales.

Flexible Path Layout:

Definition: A layout with multiple pathways. A store design where fixtures and aisles are arranged in a way that allows shoppers to take multiple paths through the store.

Importance: Allows customers to explore the store in various ways, potentially increasing product exposure.

Free Flow Layout:

Definition: An asymmetric store layout.  A store design where fixtures and merchandise are placed in an asymmetric pattern, allowing customers to flow freely through different sections.

Importance: Provides a unique shopping experience and can make browsing more engaging.

Grid Layout:

Definition: A structured, rectangular arrangement of aisles and fixtures. A store design with aisles and fixtures placed in a rectangular or square pattern. Common in grocery stores.

Importance: Makes navigation straightforward, often used in stores where efficiency is prioritized.

Impulse Purchases:

Definition: Items intended for spontaneous purchase. Items usually placed near the cash wrap to encourage customers to make last-minute purchases.

Importance: Increases average transaction value by encouraging unplanned purchases.

Island Display:

Definition: A standalone product display. A standalone display, often placed in the center of an open floor, showcasing specific products.

Importance: Highlights specific products, making them more noticeable and enticing.

Merchandise Outpost:

Definition: A dedicated section for specific products or brands. A small section or kiosk within a larger store dedicated to a specific brand or product type.

Importance: Allows for brand-focused shopping experiences within larger stores.


Definition: A visual product placement guide. A visual diagram that details where and how products should be displayed on store shelves.

Importance: Ensures consistent and optimized product displays across different store locations.

Point of Purchase (POP) Display:

Definition: Displays promoting specific products. Special displays designed to promote a specific product or offer, often located near the cash wrap or in high-traffic areas.

Importance: Grabs customer attention at the point of purchase, encouraging additional sales.

Racetrack Layout:

Definition: A layout with a central circular pathway. A store design where a main aisle circles the store, guiding customers around various departments.

Importance: Directs customer traffic around the store, ensuring exposure to various departments.

Sight Line:

Definition: The visual range in a store. The visual range in which products and displays are visible to customers as they move through the store.

Importance: Influences product placement. Products within the main sight lines typically receive more attention.


Definition: Informational or promotional signs. The use of signs to communicate store policies, promotions, department names, or product information.

Importance: Guides customers, communicates promotions, and enhances branding.

Space Planning:

Definition: Organizing store space for optimal use. The arrangement of furniture, displays, and products to optimize the use of store space and improve the shopping experience.

Importance: Maximizes product display, improves customer flow, and enhances shopping experience.


Definition: The store’s overall aesthetic and feel. The overall look and feel of the store, which can include its design, lighting, colors, and even scent, aimed at creating a specific shopping experience.

Importance: Creates a memorable shopping environment, influencing customer perceptions and loyalty.

Visual Merchandising:

Definition: Artful product display techniques. The art of presenting products in an appealing way to encourage sales, using design principles, space layout, and display techniques.

Importance: Makes products more appealing, leading to increased sales.

Wall Fixtures:

Definition: Display units attached to walls. Shelving or display units attached directly to the store walls, used to showcase merchandise.

Importance: Efficient use of wall space for product display, especially in smaller stores.

Warm Spot:

Definition: High foot traffic areas. An area in the store that attracts more foot traffic, often due to strategic product placement or promotions.

Importance: Ideal for placing popular or promotional products to capitalize on visibility.


Definition: Dividing a store into specific areas. The process of dividing a store into different areas or zones, each dedicated to a specific type of product or service.

Importance: Organizes products, making shopping more intuitive and efficient for customers.

These terms are essential for understanding the basics of store design and can be helpful for anyone involved in retail or planning to open their own store.

Each of these terms and concepts plays a crucial role in the overall design and function of a retail space, influencing customer behavior and sales outcomes.


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