Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Jennie Gallimore (Committee Member), Nan Kong (Committee Member), James Munch (Committee Member), Pratik Parikh (Advisor), Xinhui Zhang (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Retail store's layout affects a shopper's visual experience and correspondingly the time spent in the store, navigation through the aisles, and allocation of attention and money across departments and categories. We contend that alternate rack layouts allow for more of a rack's facing to appear in the shopper's visual field. In this work we focus on the following two questions: (i) what impact does a given rack layout have on how much of a rack display is exposed to a shopper? (ii) what rack layouts maximize exposure to a shopper? To address the first question, we introduce a set of visual-spatial statistics comprised of visual measures (exposure and intensity) and spatial measures (space and aspect ratio) as a way to quantify the effect a retail layout has on a shopper's visual experience. We present both analytical and algorithmic approaches to capture the dynamics of a traveling shopper's field of regard against a static rack layout. Findings based on unidirectional shopper traffic suggest that racks oriented at 30 from the direction of travel exhibit nearly 250% increase in exposure over traditional 90° racks; for bidirectional shopper traffic, acute orientations are still attractive providing up to 150% higher exposure. To address the second question, we introduce the retail rack layout problem (RRLP) of identifying the optimal single or multi-column rack orientations in a constrained space in order to maximize exposure. We propose a mixed-integer non-linear mathematical programming model for the RRLP. Given the complexity associated with this model, we propose a heuristic-based solution approach based on particle swarm optimization (PSO). We conduct sensitivity analyses of the near-optimal layouts generated by the PSO to variation in system and shopper parameters. Results from this part of the study indicate that maximum exposure of layouts is sensitive to shopper visual characteristics; orientation of racks in the column closest to the shopper is less than the degree of horizontal head movement exhibited by the shopper. Further, the %-increase in exposure over the baseline 90º rack layouts is a non-decreasing function of the allowable display loss. Multiple competitive layout designs with 1-, 2-, and even 3-columns exist that offer similar exposure values for a given system configuration. Our findings provide quantitative evidence of the sensitivity of exposure to the characteristics of the shopper, confirming that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to retail design. The models developed can form the basis of more advanced models that consider 3D environments with varying rack heights, presence of different rack shapes, and the impact on store sales.

Page Count


Department or Program

Ph.D. in Engineering

Year Degree Awarded


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Included in

Engineering Commons