I have been working with a large number of different retailers since 1993. I have always seen myself more as a retailer than a researcher. I am a retailer with a scientific toolbox.

As such I get much of my inspiration from real stores, offline and online. Almost all my research comes from having seen something in a real store that I want to learn more about. It can be a display, a digital technique, a layout, atmospherics, a planogram, a range organisation and so on.

Running field studies for ecological validity, combined with lab studies for reliability is a great way to learn about retailing.

It is therefore very important for me to visit real stores to get ideas for new studies. Below are some examples of stores that have inspired me. However, I lack photos of many stores that have meant a lot to me. Stew Leonards stores with their IKEA-like race tracks and all the atmospherics; Super Quinn with their complement-based organisation of the range, etcetera. I have been fortunate to travel and work with and see so many different stores over the years. I must say, though, that I perhaps learn more from borrowing ideas from other types of retailers (e.g. borring ideas from grocery stores to fashion stores or the other way around) than from only looking at the stores that are “best in class” within a certain kind of retail.

The very first image below is from “my own” store. It is not really my own but I have an interest in the store, I use it as a lab and I have been part of it from before it was ever opened. It is located outside of Stockholm and is run by a friend of mine, Joakin Enerstrand.

Creating rooms to automatically activate the right associations

"My store" under construction. We tried to create rooms without using walls but rather various atmospherics. In the fruit and vegetable department we created a ceiling looking like the sky and put tape looking like grass on the floor.
A constant source for inspiration is IKEA. The way they show merchandise in use is just fantastic and an inspiration to the rest of the retail world.
The floor can also make a huge difference. This is from ICA Supermarket on Sjöhagsvägen in Västerås. A beautiful deli department.

Getting away from the grid layout

This image shows a heat map of where the shopper's attention is plotted on a layout. In a greed layout it is basically only the endocarps that get attention. In this particular store 40% of the sales came from the endocarps. Thanks Herb for the knowledge.
IKEA solve the problem by having shoppers walk straight towards displays. The areas straight front of the shopper is called "hot spot". IKEA produces numerous hot spots with the help of their maze.
In this picture we can see Wholefoods solution to "the grid layout problem". By putting the shelves in a stair-like fashion the shoppers eye movements are altered and shoppers start paying attention to a larger share of the assortment.
If there is not enough space to create the stair-like solution seen above the store could always tilt the fixtures like here in ICA Supermarket Grums. This way too a much larger share of the assortment becomes automatically visible to the shopper.
A camera never lies. In this grid layout the problem becomes painfully obvious. The shopper sees only floor. It is easy to move and speed up but there is hardly any inspiration at all.
Rounded shelves make a huge difference. With these concave shelves shoppers stop further from the shelves and therefore view more different packages and receive the variety to be larger.