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Creating A Merchandising Strategy When Designing Or Redesigning A Truckstop: Part 2

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Marketing & Retail, Leadership & Strategy


Part two of Creating A Merchandising Strategy When Designing Or Redesigning A Truckstop is just that—the layout and design. There are fundamental principles that apply to all retail locations, and it is important that these principles are discussed during your store layout and design process. Not heeding them can lead to future problems that can be very costly to correct.

Among others, my key focuses are on these three fundamental principles:

  1. Developing a layout and design that guides customers through the store directing them to specific purchasing areas. This is part of the shopping experience you are looking to create. Many retailers use a “highway or racetrack” approach to store layout and design, most familiar to many of us is Walmart and or Target, albeit less today than in years past. The idea is that this approach leads the customer to destination points within the store, such as your deli, fountain and coffee bar, allowing the customer the opportunity to make quick purchasing decisions. Time, as we know, is critical to our core customer, the male professional driver. Men typically hate to search when it comes to buying and shopping.

  2. Developing a layout and design that pulls the customer into your store, ensuring that need items are not up front but require traipsing through the store. Wish and want feel good products are placed squarely within eyes view while, for example, anti-gel additives during the summer are placed in appropriate department categories deeper within the store set. Many times beverage coolers are placed deep within the store to draw customers to deeper into the location. The idea of pulling customers into the store is critical when you are speaking about four-wheel traffic. Gas customers who do venture into your operation from the gasoline pumps need reasons to go beyond the transaction counter and/or stop to buy and shop as they leave the restrooms.

  3. Developing a layout and design the takes advantage of new lighting concepts. Impact lighting brings out the colors and concepts of the areas you are trying to highlight. Lighting, when done properly, creates focal points for greater end-cap exposure, department segmentation and comprehensible adjacencies. Lighting on end caps and displays help create paths for directing traffic through the main aisles.

Always keep in mind that whichever one grouping of fundamental retail principles you implement and execute, your decisions should be based on as many facts and proven concepts you can layer in. As always, it is critical to know your current customer needs as well as any potential customers you wish to attract in the future.

Implementing these proven concepts does not mean you have to be a carbon copy of your competition. Actually, by layering in the proven concepts with your own factual and tribal knowledge, you can design a layout that squarely differentiates you from your competition.

While some pieces of your puzzle may indeed be similar to the competition across the street, the pieces that make the biggest difference in creating an awesome shopping experience should be different. Recognize that shopping at Target and Walmart are very different experiences, even though they are both giant rectangular retail spaces.

/// Be sure to read Creating A Merchandising Strategy When Designing Or Redesigning A Truckstop: Part 1 here.

Photo Credit: Amy Toner/NATSO

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About the Author

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte serves as Vice President of Membership at NATSO. In this role, he directs recruitment, retention and customer service for truckstop and travel plaza members. He is also responsible for developing NATSO products and programs, particularly those relating to education, research and training for truckstop and travel plaza operators.

Schulte also leads NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program. A Profitable Retail Review is a custom assessment of your truckstop, including recommendations for every aspect of your facility, from actionable ideas to improve revenue to tactical ways to improve your net operating costs. Learn about NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program here.

Schulte joined NATSO with nearly three decades of experience in truckstop and travel plaza operations and merchandising. Schulte has worked for: 

  • Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores,
  • HESS Corporation, 
  • Petro Stopping Centers, and
  • TSC Global/Barjan LLC.