Transition Zone

Your entry zone is important for preparing customers to shop your store well.


As people dash from store to store when they are shopping or having a day “browsing” it takes a while for them to adjust to the pace and environment in each store.

The transition zone, (sometimes referred to as ‘the landing strip’ or 'decompression zone'); Spark250.jpgthat space just inside the door, is a very ineffective selling space. It’s not normal to see people crossing the threshold of a store and screeching to a halt to see everything around them.

When they get inside the store they’re busy making adjustments, adjusting their eyes to the light and craning their necks to see where things are. Their ears and noses are taking in smells and sounds, judging if the store is hot or cold, busy or quiet. There’s a lot going on.

Yes you will see them, but they are not actually “there” until they have crossed the transition zone and slowed their pace.
Having said, it doesn’t mean the transition zone should be a dead area.

Retailers can employ a few tricks to ease people through the transition zone. Begin engaging them in the experience of shopping in your store until they are physically ready to shop:

  • An automatic door can enlarge the transition zone because people can enter the store effortlessly and quickly. However, their experience entering through the door can have an effect: smeary windows covered in sticky tape; an unswept floor; air conditioning; different lighting in the store; the perfume or smell of fresh flowers or soaps; the sound of a bell.


  • Greeting customers warmly with a smile to make them feel welcomed and relaxed when they come in.


  • If there are special promotions going on in the store, this is a good time to introduce them. Planet250.jpgBut ensure you repeat displays of promotion lines further back where people are more likely to pick them up. Don't put your most important or most expensive stock at the shop front. It will get bypassed.


  • Displaying well discounted items that are seasonal ‘must haves” at the edge of the transition zone acts to STOP shoppers in their tracks because they are too good to pass. These also help drag customers further back to look at other items


  • Avoid having too much clutter at the shop entry i.e. shopping baskets; products or flyers. Place amazing discounts or other visually eye catching products on some kind of bench, table or shelving or appropriate bin.


  • For a small store where space is at a premium, your goal should be to keep theM&S250.jpg transition zone as small as possible. One of the most effective methods is a large horizontal display that acts as a barrier but doesn’t obstruct view across the store. Such ‘power’ displays are intended to slow customers down sooner, giving them time to absorb the layout of the store and decide where to go. Avoid having high displays of product or gift card spinners right inside the door.

Finally, be aware that the vast majority of shoppers entering a store at a normal walking speed will simply not react to signs or merchandise displays that crowd them in or get in their face the instant the come through the door.

Shoppers like to be in a 'comfort zone' and a little bit organised in their mind, thinking about what they need before they make decisions. They will be more comfortable with a clean and inviting entrance to your store.

- Joy Lamb

To understand more about the science of shopping we recommend 'Why We Buy' by Paco Underhill

For store layout, refer to the Garden Retail Success Premises Development Manual