Some of you might be saying, well of course Store layout and traffic patterns affect sales.  I usually think of store layout in terms of placing items where you want your customer to be.  But, I never really thought about how a store layout can affect foot traffic until, I saw it with my own eyes.  Of course this was a simulation in a Facebook application called Café World.

Café World allows you to layout your own Café.  You place the stove where the cook prepares the food, where the serving tables are and where the customers eat.  If you have a good layout, the cook is efficient, the waiters & waitresses can clean and serve efficiently and customers will get seated and served in a timely fashion.  If your customers are happy, then they tell other customers about it and more customers come.  If the customer walks in, but doesn’t see anywhere to sit, they grow impatient and leave unhappy.  If the customer walks in and sits down but isn’t served within a reasonable time, they walk out unhappy.

It’s interesting to note that changing the placement of  a door, table, chair or even a serving table can dramatically change traffic patterns either for good or bad.

Another interesting thing, is a layout that works for light traffic doesn’t always work well when it gets really busy.  Customers have to wait longer and grow more impatient.

I’m sure the larger restaurants, grocery and department stores do traffic flow studies, but I wonder if they do foot traffic simulations like this to see how traffic changes when fixture placement changes.