Choosing Store-Planning Software? How to Find the Best One for You

By Sara Angeles
Business.com / Software / Last Modified: September 13, 2017
Image from fiphoto/Shutterstock

There’s more to merchandising than displaying products.

There’s more to merchandising than displaying products. Using store-planning software, retailers can strategize where products should go to drive foot traffic and boost sales. Store-planning software can also help retailers predict customer behavior to create a store layout that encourages them to browse and make purchases.

When selecting store-planning software, you’ll need to determine what your budget is and what features your retail business needs. Here’s what to look for in a store-planning application.

Cost

There are a variety of store-planning software apps available, and retailers have many options when it comes to price points.

For retailers who only need basic store-planning software or those who simply wish to try it out, there are several free versions available online. However, free plans are often limited and may not fit your needs. Limitations may include the number of projects or layouts, users and features. You also may not be able to update your layout or test different layouts after a certain period of time, which is unhelpful if your goals and product offerings change.

 

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For more flexibility and features, paid store-planning software is the way to go. Paid plans are available as monthly or annual subscriptions, starting at $15 per month and extending up to $100 per month or more, depending on your needs.

If a monthly subscription doesn’t suit your budget, some apps can be purchased with a flat, one-time fee. These fees range anywhere from $99 to $499 and up.

Keep in mind that, generally, paid subscriptions are cloud-based that you can access anywhere via web browser, and one-time purchases are downloadable software for Windows and Mac devices.

Features

Whether you try free or paid store-planning software, you’ll want an application that’s easy to use and has all the features your store needs. You should also consider your business goals and whether the software’s capabilities will help you reach them.

Here are some key features to look for in store-planning software:

  • Customizable floor plan templates, so you don’t have to build one from scratch. Just pick a template and change the specs to fit your space and building
  • Printable floor plans (Some software will only let you view blueprints from your computer screen.)
  • The ability to test and switch between different floor plans without starting over
  • Drag-and-drop capability to easily move things around
  • Draw and design custom store features
  • Built-in symbols or custom images for doors, windows, decorations and furnishings
  • The capability to map out the desired flow of customers, such as the direction of foot traffic, how much space customers need to move around and where you want them to stop and browse
  • The ability to add function rooms, such as fitting rooms, rest rooms, sitting areas, a back office, stock room, and shipping and receiving areas
  • You can designate checkout area(s) and the direction of checkout line 
  • New products, layout upgrades and changes to your business goals can easily be added to the application

Advanced features

Big retailers with big budgets should also consider advanced features that simulate real-life events. This includes:

  • Real-time store navigation, such as a virtual tour
  • Anticipating customer behavior based on analysis and insights
  • Experimenting with “what-if” scenarios using different types of layouts and variables
  • Integration with existing inventory-management software

Retailers of all sizes will benefit from store planning software to optimize their space and maximize profit. The key is finding software that’s easy to use and customizable to fit your business’s goals and needs.

 

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