Navigating Space: Costco Wholesale

For the Navigating Space assignment, I decided to assess Costco Wholesale (specifically the one in Apex, NC). To start, the overall warehouse signage is great! When navigating here, you are easily able to read and recognize the location not only from the adjacent highway, but the near parking lots. It stands tall on the west wing of the building with expertly trimmed foliage to prevent it from being unreadable.

The overall vibe for Costco, as well as any wholesale stores, is industrial warehouse. It’s quite common for big box stores like this one to have concrete floors, hanging light fixtures, metal shafted ceilings, and stacked pallets in a majority of the aisles. This location does exactly that. The overall store is quite large – coming in at 148,000 square feet – It is filled to the brim with food, clothing, technology, and really anything you could possibly ever need. In the eyes of marketing – it is a well designed store. The large aisles with eye-catching displays truly invite a shopper to spend their day. A Costco classic (not pictured due to the privacy of the workers) is the sample stands that are scattered throughout the store. Workers allow customers to sample different food items – usually stationed next to the items pallet. It makes an experience that is welcoming to a consumer as it invites interaction and allows for easier decision making when purchasing such a large quantity of something.

However, this assignment made me realize Costco does has a lack of signage overall. The store is organized in a square shape – with palleted aisles on your left and right – the specialty foods at the back – and registers at the front. There of course is big bold lettering to alert you to the specialty areas: such as the deli, the bakery, and the large refrigerated rooms (pictured below)… however that is about it. You essentially have to navigate yourself the rest of the way through.

The pallet stacked aisles are merely numbered, there isn’t guidance about the items in each aisle. As someone who frequents Costco, I myself am aware of the general organization – but a newcomer would definitely be lost. When thinking upon this though, you must wonder if there is some intentional design behind the lack of clarity. Maybe the store wants customers to wander so they end up buying more items – such like many of us do when we step foot into a target. However the signage that does exist is designed well. Everything is in the same red and white signature block lettered font – you are aware that this is a Costco no matter where you are in the store.

To aid the numbering on the aisles, I would maybe add a short list of items that could be found in the aisle. I know that BJ’s Wholesale and Sam’s Club have similar systems – however Costco does sell a wider variety of items. It’s often that you’ll find pasta sauce next to a box of cereal for example – it may be hard to implement a signage list with this in mind. Overall, there isn’t much I would change about Costco. Despite the lack of explicit signage on the pallet aisles, I feel as though Costco was certainly designed with the consumer in mind. The spacious aisles and bright lights make your shopping experience quite simple and enjoyable.