Designing the perfect retail space: Tips for shopfitting and store interiors

Want to know where to get started in designing the perfect retail space? While there are quite a few things to consider, we have compiled a shortlist of basic tips for shopfitting and store interiors that will attract customers to your store, keep them browsing for longer and eventually make a purchase.

What is retail design?

Retail design refers to the design, layout and organisation of a retail store. It applies to the entire retail space, including the space planning and floorplan to the lighting, signage and branding, shopfitting, store fixtures, merchandising and furniture and more. 

Why is good retail design and shopfitting important?

Smart retail design optimises your space in the most efficient and attention-grabbing way to help boost your sales. Good retail store design and shopfittings attract customers to your retail store and create a welcoming atmosphere, which builds an affinity with your brand. Effective retail interior design also guides customers through your shop, gets them browsing for more products and encourages them to make a purchase.

Smart retail design tips

Our retail design and shopfitting experts share some of the top tips for shopfitting and retail store interiors that will create an amazing customer experience, build your brand and boost sales.

1. Plan your store layout

As a first step, proper retail space planning is needed to optimise the available retail store space. A well-planned floor plan and layout will create an efficient shopping path for customers, while controlling foot traffic in your shop, especially during busy shopping periods. 

It is important to note that customers tend to turn right when entering a store. Therefore many retail stores create a counter-clockwise flow and use retail merchandising techniques to strategically place products in certain areas along the path to increase sales.

The entrance or threshold of your store is often referred to as a “decompression zone”. In this area customers adjust to the new environment and form first impressions about your store and brand. Create a calm, welcoming atmosphere and avoid cluttering this space with too many products or signs.

2. Get the lighting, branding and store signage just right

The right retail lighting can have a huge impact on customer experience in your store. The lighting you use will depend on the type of industry you’re in and the ambience you want to create, e.g. softer lighting in fashion and clothing stores than in supermarkets. Strategic retail lighting can also be used to draw shoppers’ attention to certain products and areas in your retail store.

The branding and colours you use in your shop’s retail interior design should be simple and striking. Beware of sensory overload in your graphic design that could distract customers from your products or services. Less is more, and stick to  one or two colours that customers would generally associate with your brand.

Striking, well-positioned store signage will lure customers into your retail shop, but can also add to their shopping experience while in store. Use signage to direct customers to new arrivals or promotional displays. You can also find smart ways to use signage to inform and educate your customers about your brand, products or services.

3. Choose effective store fixtures, fittings and retail displays 

Retail displays are a crucial part of the shopfitting process. Retail store fixtures and fittings are used to display merchandise, and can include shelves, racks, cases, stall walls, mannequins and more. 

Having the right retail displays in your store interior will showcase your products to customers in the most attractive way. It can also help guide the layout and flow of your retail store to optimise sales, as well as the overall look and feel.

Retail design summary

Smart retail design can increase customer engagement and boost sales in your store. Create a great customer experience by optimising your retail store’s floor space, designing a good flow, enticing customers with striking signage and encouraging them to shop more with strategic lighting and retail displays.

Let’s design your retail space!

GL events South Africa’s expert retail design and shopfitting team is up to date on the latest trends that can transform your retail store from drab to fab. We do shopfitting across South Africa, including Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. Contact us on [email protected] or go to