Take a moment to put yourself in your target customer’s shoes. Now, pretend you’re someone who’s walking into your store for the first time.


What’s it like? Does the store excite you and encourage you to look around? Or do you feel uninspired because there’s nothing new or innovative about the shop’s look and feel?

If it’s the latter, then your store may be due for an upgrade. The bar is set really high for brick-and-mortar retailers these days. You need to provide compelling shopping experiences to entice people to shop at your store instead of walking over to your competitors or doing it online.

And amazing shopping experiences start with a great-looking store. That’s why if your shop is looking pretty bland, you should consider sprucing up your location.

Not sure if you can afford it? Here are five simple and affordable retail store improvements that will help you attract more customers without breaking the bank.

1. Zone your items properly

Before placing your merchandise, think of the flow or the path that you want customers to take through your store. The idea is to lead people in deeper, not to turn them away at the entrance. So, it makes sense to put things near the entrance that will get their attention and make them want to see more. That said, space is at a premium at most retail locations. You don’t want to lose valuable retail areas for things that are low cost, but meant to drive people inside.

Consider starting your store’s front zone with some hanging merchandise in the windows and some racks of other eye-catching items just inside. Rods and hooks are inexpensive ways to swap things out quickly, allowing you to create new scenes every few weeks to keep things fresh.

For example, a trendy fashion boutique may take a look at the calendar and update hanging merchandise with things that would look great at an upcoming holiday party, while gift shops may pay attention to things like tourist season, and update their look according to who’s most likely to walk by.

From there, it’s possible to group the rest of your merchandise in a way that will focus the way people move through your store from those initial items to the register, increasing the likelihood of bigger sales.


Double hanging rods add a lot of space to your store, while costing around $10 a piece, while wall hooks cost around $15 to $32. To really maximize the space, treat your walls and front display like a custom closet, with moving parts that will allow you to keep things fresh.

Money saving tip:

To make it more budget-friendly, install the rods DIY. Or invest in wall boards that allow you to shift around the pegs and rods without needing to install new hardware each time.

2. Invest in good lighting

Every retail location should be making use of the three types of lighting – ambient, task, and accent. Ambient lighting ensures that your customers can see everything clearly, while task lights help ensure they can find exactly what they need quickly and easily. Use accent lights sparingly to help put the spotlight on areas with products want you want to move more quickly, or to attract additional attention to them.

There are many ways you can incorporate lighting into your retail location, including tracks, recessed lights, spotlights, and even lamps. The more sources of light you use, the better the final outcome. If your shop has no natural light, include extra ambient lighting through well-spaced recessed lights to help illuminate more evenly.

To highlight sale items or promotional items, consider using an accent light in a slightly different lighting color directly overhead. Make sure that registers and areas that contain small items are covered by bright task lighting to make it easier for shoppers to see what’s available and to find items like their wallets and credit cards more easily.


Maximize your lighting update by investing in LED bulbs and fixtures, instead of CFL or incandescent.  LED lights can cost around $30 per pack of 6 bulbs, but can last for years, while lowering energy costs.  The labor cost for electricians to install your new lights costs around $65 to $85 per hour, so plan your upgrade accordingly, and have the plan and fixtures ready to go to avoid additional costs and wasted time.

Money saving tip:

Don’t upgrade everything at once; take the project on in phases to ensure you’re getting maximum impact. Upgrade your ambient lighting first, then add the task and accent lights sparingly. You may find that you don’t need as many as you first thought, which can save you hundreds.

3. Paint an accent wall

One simple way of getting your customer’s attention is through the color of your walls. Color has a major impact on how people perceive a space. In fact, studies have shown that people have very specific reactions to certain colors, with red getting the most attention, followed by green, blue, and yellow. Select one of these colors in a shade that blends well with your logo and brand, and paint an accent wall that faces the door or that frames out some of your merchandise to capture these reactions for yourself.


Primer – $20 to 25 per gallon

Paint – depending on the quality and different colors you want, can cost around $25 to $50

Labor –  $20 to $35 per hour

Money saving tip:

If you want to save on the labor cost, paint the wall yourself DIY. Make sure that the walls are clean, and take steps to protect your floors and furnishings. Get creative and add freehand designs on your walls; this a great way of showcasing the branding you want for your store.

4. Upgrade your flooring

Upgrading your flooring can improve the design of your store and help direct the flow of traffic. By mixing various flooring types, you can highlight different sections and make it easier for customers to move around the store.

Keep in mind, that you want to install flooring designed for commercial traffic. This means tile floors rated 4 or 5 on the Mohs scale, or hardwood floors that have been engineered with an acrylic finish to withstand the number of people that will pass over them each day.


Costs will vary depending on what type of flooring you want to install.

Porcelain tile is a great choice for retail locations, often with a hardness rating of 5. Porcelain costs around $5 – $10 a square foot.

Hardwood designed for commercial use is another great choice, as it has a warm appearance that attracts people. Expect to pay $12 to $20 a foot.

Money saving tip:

Invest in quality flooring that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. While more expensive up front, you’ll save over its lifetime with less upkeep and associated costs.

5. Create comfort and ambiance

If your customers are comfortable being in your store, they’re more likely to want to stay a while and spend more money. Creating a comfortable atmosphere where people will want to be can go a long way toward improving sales.

Thankfully, this is also easy to do. In addition to great lighting and easy to follow merchandise paths, be sure to add some places for people to relax. This may mean chairs or benches near the changing rooms, quiet areas for conversation, or small nooks where someone could sit for a minute before continuing on with their day.

This type of experience will change depending on the type of store you have. For instance, some bookstores include little reading nooks that patrons can curl up in while they determine whether or not to buy a book. Meanwhile, many boutiques have comfortable seats outside changing rooms for a spouse to rest on while their significant other tries things on. In both cases, you’re invited to stay a while, which helps improve the experience.


Reuse any bench or chair in your home, and have them refinished to match your store’s decor for around $300.

Have an acoustic ceiling installed, or put in speakers or other home theater items for around $100 to $150 per pair to add ambient music to the room. Labor costs for electricians can run around $65 to $85 per hour.

Money saving tip:

Refinish old furnishings yourself, add curtains to soften the walls, or bring in a Bluetooth speaker to add quiet music for less to help create the atmosphere you’re after.

Get more from your retail location

While your store’s contents should speak for themselves, it’s getting the customers in their to see it that should be your first concern. Use these tips to help increase customer attraction to your location, and start getting more out of the experience for everyone involved.