3 Ways Your Retail Store Should and Shouldn’t Be Like Pac-Man

October 20, 2016 Marc Prosser

The layout of your store is one of the biggest factors that will determine how successful your retail business is. It’s not a matter of throwing up a few shelves and racks to attract customers. These days, there’s an entire art to the design and layout of your business. Not sure where to start? Not to worry; we’ve got a great innovator to copycat.

When it comes to retail store design, get inspiration from a surprising place: Pac-Man! A tried-and-true legend in the video game world, Pac-Man’s simplicity and success is one you can emulate in your own retail store layout.

But take notes: while there are certain elements of the Pac-Man game you should emulate, there are others that will keep you from getting the high score in the world of business.

What You Should Have in Common with Pac-Man

If you’re just at the start of your floor layout planning, set these as your game-winning strategies.

Make a Clear Path to the Target

Just like the path around Pac-Man (or his competitive wife, if you prefer) leads the main man to those delicious cherries and lets him attack ghosts, your store aisles should be clear and easy to navigate during the shopping process.

Keep items out of the aisle, and avoid the temptation of trying to stuff more products in your store at the price of that navigable path. A shopper should be able to easily walk, cart in hand, without brushing items on either side.

Strategically Place Power-Ups

While you have those little white dots throughout your store (merchandise), you need to place the cherries — the best-selling items or those that cost a little more — strategically in different locations in your shop.

Make sure these items are on display with lighting that grabs people’s attention. Arrange them on a table or display shelf in a manner that screams “pick me up!”

The Power Wall — the wall on the right side of your store — is a great place to highlight some of these items. Make sure to change out these displays frequently to pique the interest of regular shoppers.

Lead Players to the Goal

In your retail video game, the goal is reaching your point of sale system to check out. Once a shopper has gotten to this point, you win.

Consider adding a cash wrap with impulse purchases at checkout to rack up even more bonus points (and sales). These should be affordable items that a customer can easily pick up and decide to buy on a whim.

What You Shouldn’t Have in Common with Pac-Man

Don’t get so carried away with the Pac-Man theme that you end up making these classic noob mistakes.

Too Many Speedbumps

We all have memories of the frustrations of using the circa-1985 joystick to navigate those awkward corners in the game. Many a game was lost due to this archaic technology. Don’t make the same mistake by creating dead ends in your design layout. Make sure every aisle path connects back to another so you don’t have a player stuck in the corner, or it’s Game Over.

Players Distracted by Dots

It might have been part of Pac-Man’s mission to eat up the dots in his path, but a customer shouldn’t have to in your store. Remove unnecessary clutter from the aisle floors throughout the day so your customer has a smooth ride all the way to the end of the game.

Also realize that most people are still transitioning into shopping mode when they first enter your store. It’s not a great place to put displays of important items, so save them for other spots.

Ghosts Following Players (Er, Customers)

You want your employees to be helpful, but you don’t want them stalking customers like Inky, Blinky, and Clyde. Make sure in employee training you tell them what’s acceptable (a greeting when a customer walks in, then an offer to help if they need it), and what’s not (floating around behind them, ready to devour them).

Shoppers should know that sales clerks are available if they need them, but they shouldn’t feel pressured by their presence.

Pac-Man certainly has the success rate to inspire you to use him as a role model. In retail, nothing is more important than capturing your shoppers’ attention and making that shopping experience seamless. A shopper shouldn’t have to squeeze through racks of clothing or bump into another customer to navigate your store. And she should have plenty of opportunity to discover those “cherries,” or those items that you want to sell more of.

Author information

Marc Prosser

Marc Prosser

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