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Space Planning by ChatGPT

By Jackie Lewis, VP of Content and Member Engagement at ARC

Space Planning is fundamentally about maximizing the use of retail space for optimal shopper experience and retail performance. The technology available to support the process has grown and evolved over time, to AI-powered store-specific planograms and virtual reality store concept testing. The latest technology to take the world by storm is ChatGPT – an AI tool that answers questions quickly and in in detailed fashion, generating paragraphs of content in just a matter of moments.

Since its unveiling late last year everyone is trying to determine how ChatGPT will impact them and their business. So, what does ChatGPT know about space planning? We decided to ask the powerful chatbot a few questions. Does it define space planning the same way we do? What does it know about the manufacturer’s roles? How would it go about designing a 5,000 square foot store? See what we found out!

Us (to ChatGPT): Are you familiar with the concept of retail space planning?

ChatGPT: Yes, I am familiar with the concept of retail space planning. Retail space planning is the process of designing the layout of a physical retail store to maximize its use and create an effective and efficient shopping environment. This includes determining the ideal placement of product displays, checkout counters, signage, and other elements of a store’s interior design.

The goal of retail space planning is to optimize the store’s layout to encourage customers to spend more time in the store and increase the likelihood of making a purchase. A well-planned retail space can help to improve the customer experience, increase sales, and build customer loyalty.

Us (to ChatGPT): That’s right! Can you simplify that into one sentence?

ChatGPT: Retail space planning is the process of designing the layout of a physical retail store to create an effective and efficient shopping environment that encourages customers to spend more time and make a purchase.

Us (to ChatGPT): What is a manufacturer’s role in space planning?

ChatGPT: Manufacturers may play a role in retail space planning by providing guidance, recommendations, and support to retailers in how to effectively display and merchandise their products within a store’s layout. Manufacturers may also provide in-store displays or fixtures to showcase their products and enhance the overall visual appeal of the store. By collaborating with retailers on space planning, manufacturers can help ensure that their products are displayed in the best possible way, which can ultimately drive sales and build brand recognition.

Us (to ChatGPT): Thank you! I am a retailer looking to build a new 5,000 square foot convenience store in a college town. What types of products should I include?

ChatGPT: The specific products you should include in your convenience store will depend on a variety of factors, including the preferences and needs of your target market, local competition, and your overall business strategy. However, here are some general product categories that could be popular in a college town convenience store:

  1. Snacks and beverages: College students are often on-the-go and appreciate quick and easy snack options, so stocking a variety of chips, candy, cookies, energy drinks, and bottled water is a good idea.
  2. Prepared foods: Offering grab-and-go meals like sandwiches, salads, and wraps can be a convenient option for students who need a quick and easy meal between classes.
  3. Personal care items: Stocking toiletries such as toothpaste, shampoo, and soap can be helpful for students who may have forgotten these items or need to pick them up quickly.
  4. School supplies: Basic school supplies like pens, pencils, notebooks, and folders can be a helpful addition for students who need to pick up supplies for class.
  5. Technology accessories: Charging cords, headphones, and other technology accessories can be popular with students who rely on their devices for coursework and entertainment.
  6. Health and wellness products: Offering basic over-the-counter medications like pain relievers, cough drops, and allergy medicine can be helpful for students who may not have access to a pharmacy.

Us (to ChatGPT): Not bad! I’m surprised you didn’t mention beer or wine. How much space should I dedicate to alcohol?

ChatGPT: Here are some general guidelines to consider:

  1. Local regulations: Before determining how much space to dedicate to alcohol, make sure you are familiar with any local laws or regulations that may impact the sale of alcohol in your area.
  2. Customer demographics: Consider the demographics of your customer base, including age, income level, and cultural background. If your customer base consists primarily of college students, for example, you may want to dedicate more space to beer and other low-priced alcoholic beverages.
  3. Sales data: Analyze your sales data to determine which types of alcohol are selling well and which ones are not. Consider dedicating more space to the types of alcohol that are most popular with your customers, while scaling back on products that are not selling as well.

As a general rule of thumb, alcohol sales typically account for around 10-20% of total sales in a convenience store. However, the specific amount of space you should dedicate to alcohol will depend on the factors outlined above, as well as your overall business strategy and goals.

Us (to ChatGPT): Can you draw a picture of this store layout for me?

ChatGPT: I’m sorry, as an AI language model, I don’t have the capability to create visual representations such as pictures or diagrams. You can use free online tools such as RoomSketcher, SketchUp, and SmartDraw to experiment with different store layouts and product placements to find the best option for your business. Additionally, you may want to consider consulting with a professional retail space planner or designer who can provide personalized recommendations for your specific store layout and product mix.

That was our experience with ChatGPT: six questions, in maybe six minutes. That was all it took to generate some pretty detailed responses. Overall we were impressed by the conversation! ChatGPT was able to define space planning just as well as any other in the field and describe the nuanced and specific role manufacturers play in the process. It suggested the right general product categories to offer in a c-store in a college town, and even estimated a percent of sales from alcohol!

However, we all know visual representations are the lifeblood of space management. ChatGPT was not able to deliver either a floor plan or planogram for our store. In fact, is actually suggested we consider consulting with a professional retail space planner to provide personalized recommendations! Sounds like we’re safe, at least for now.

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About the Author: Jackie Lewis, VP of Content and Member Engagement for the Association of Retail and Consumer Professionals (ARC).

As the VP of Content and Member Engagement Jackie is responsible for determining and executing a best-in-class content strategy for ARC based on member feedback and the evolving retail landscape. She plans, facilitates and manages ARC’s executive boards and sub-committees to guide thought leadership and industry standards, producing numerous whitepapers, surveys, blog posts, newsletters, webinars, share groups, and other association events and written content. Prior to joining ARC, Jackie spent 7 years at Cleveland Research Company writing research and hosting events on the broadline retail industry. Jackie is a University of Notre Dame alum and currently lives in Chicago with her husband Alex, daughters Joey and Morgan, and border collie mix Scout.

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