Optimising Your ‘Decompression Zone’


When customers enter your store, they cross the threshold – also known as the ‘decompression zone’ – and this is where they make the transition from shopper to potential buyer. It’s your job to make this transition as easy and convincing as possible. Product displays and fittings need to maximise customer engagement, and it’s imperative that you harness all the tools of the trade to make your customers feel welcomed, enthusiastic and trusting of your store and its products.

So how do begin the transition to a more conversion-focused store? 

Customer movement

There is debate within the retail design community over how and where a store should lead a customer. Should customers be immediately directed to the left or the right? Studies have shown that customer preference of direction is related to which side of the road they drive on. This means Australians, who  drive on the left side of the road, are more likely to browse stores in a clockwise manner.

Statistics aside, it’s always a good idea to monitor customers in your store to see how they move around the space and interact with the products. If you observe customers moving throughout your store in a different manner to the way it’s laid out, consider changing your displays and fittings to suit this tendency.


Another very important aspect of store design is choosing the right fittings and displays for the product/s you’re selling. Why? Shelves that are designed well not only maximise space, they also display the product in an organised and customer-friendly way. This allows for easy customer interaction, heightened accessibility and increased chances of conversion.

Some contemporary shelving ideas include:

  • Glass shelving for high-end products
  • Wooden shelving to present traditional, rustic or kitsch merchandise
  • Plastic or metal shelving for industrial inspired or utility products

NOTE: You also need to consider if the fittings are relevant to your target market. For example, a children’s toy store should have appropriate products on shelves of smaller heights – this allows children to touch, grab and see the products, without any danger of boxes falling onto them.


Lighting is an easy and failsafe way to enhance the appeal of your products. Quality overall lighting will create an open and welcoming atmosphere that draws customers in. As well as this, accent light can also be used to draw attention to certain products such as new stock or rare items.
Some effective lighting ideas include:

  • Ceiling
  • Shelving
  • Front window
  • Glass front display cabinets
  • Floor

It’s a good idea to consider using energy efficient solutions when fitting your store with lights. Not only will this cut back on your energy costs, it will also help the environment and improve your socially-conscious image in the eyes of consumers.

Mannequins and window displays

Mannequins and window displays are probably the two biggest attractors of customers to your store – they’re also the two most common areas of error in store design. If you have the money to hire a retail designer or merchandiser, this is where you should invest. If not, think about contacting a design school to see if any students are willing to get some experience on their resume.

If you’re determined to fit the window on your own, it’s a good idea to remember that the best window displays are creative, inspirational, aspirational and in-keeping with the personality and branding of your store. You can check out our guide to creating wow-factor window displays for more information.


This one should be a no-brainer. All signage needs to be clear and easy to read, and include your store’s logo and brand name. It’s best not to add too much information or detail to your signs, otherwise customers might lose interest, not bother reading it or become confused about the products and services your store has to offer.
It’s important to make sure you signs are at an appropriate height, and that they can also be read at a distance to attract customers off the street.


One of the most important things you need to consider when choosing the general look of your store is that the fittings and displays are modern and fresh. If you use outdated, irrelevant or substandard design features, you run the risk of deterring customers and creating a poor brand identity for yourself.

If you need any assistance with new, quality shop fittings, the experts at Shop Supplies can help you create a lasting first impression with the design of your store.