The Most Valuable Pause Points

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When designing store layout and product placement plans, one of the things to consider very carefully in your plan is the placement and use of pause points. These are points in your store where people pause for various reasons, and especially while they are waiting for services of sorts.

The sad reality is that especially in small businesses I have noticed that these points usually are completely underutilized. And since there are simply so many ways to make use of these spaces efficiently, this could become some of your best producing areas in your store.

To highlight what I am referring to these include, cashier stations, service desks of any kind, and any other location in your store where people have to stand and wait for something, for one reason or another.

The important points to realize here are that:

1. These are natural pause points, and people often spend up to a few minutes at these points just waiting. This happens without forcing it too much, and people expect to wait irrespective.

2. This offers an immense opportunity for promoting and selling impulse items, as well as highlight some really nice “want products” for future shopping.

The point is that people are just standing (or sitting) around in your store, in a space that you control, which offers one of the best opportunities ever for advertising and selling products. If you do not use it you are losing a lot. You can easily have their undivided attention after all.

Here are some of the key points to consider when planning your pause points:

1. Make sure to develop them so you find the right balance between speed and pause to ensure minimal agitation and maximum sales reward. (think about how long you are willing to stand in that queue, especially with some distractions to keep you busy… )

2. The layout of your pause point could be:

  • herding lines (like in large airports) with products on display along the lines. This one will provide lots of space (and customer face time) for you to have impulse items on display. E.g. if done right you can easily herd your entire customer base past every impulse item in your store while they wait for the cashier. I have seen it used with some success with fast lane cashier stations for example.
  • Simple multi line structures, like in most large retail stores have some efficiency since you can still display some impulse items. One thing I have noticed is that the store side of most of these queues, are completely under utilized. People are standing in the queues. They turn around and look around, and not having the right product mix behind them, is simply a waste.
  • Vertical space is often wasted. In a few small occasions I have seen stores make use of TV advertising at pause points. Run some advertising for people to watch. It works and will earn you income for sure.

3. More is better. Realizing that there is an obvious cost to you when creating pause points, having more will increase sales. And if you use them right, find the right balance and have the correct product mix, they will far outsell the cost of maintaining and staffing these points.

Using the old adage of “Waste Not, Want Not” I would suggest that you ignore these wonderful opportunities only if you have enough money and really don’t want any more…

I wish you all the best with your ventures and invite you to share you stories and comments here.


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