The Difference Between Gondola Shelving Starter, Add on and Feature Bays

Gondola shelving is one of the most popular modern shop fittings, suitable for all kinds of retail outlet big and small. However, there are a number of different gondola products out there on the market. If you are thinking of kitting out a store or giving your premises a makeover, it’s worth spending a bit of time planning out your shop layout and choosing carefully from the different types of units available.

 Here, we talk you though a few of the main gondola shelving products – starter, add on and feature bays, taking a look at their main functions and key differences. This should give you a better idea of what you may need to perfect your store design.

What is gondola shelving?

Let’s start by outlining what gondola shelving is. Gondola units are free-standing shop shelving display units that you can place anywhere on the shop floor. They can be either single sided or double sided. This gives them the advantage of being equally suitable for wall and window displays or placed centrally to create browsable aisles in the store.

The units are designed to maximise floor space and improve the flow of customer traffic through the store. They come in various different designs, including slatwall, pegboard and grid mesh panel displays. Their versatility means that you can fit them with conventional shelves or a range of accessories such as hangsell hooks and prongs, garment rails or acrylic display stands. All units are usually fitted with a base shelf which is available in different sizes. 

Starter bays

What are they?

Starter bays are so called because they are the first bays, or central bays if you like, that you will put in place in your store. They have two legs – one at either end of the unit – and are the only bays designed to be used as standalone as well as in conjunction with other units. Because they have two legs, they are normally more expensive than add on gondola bays.

Starter bays consist of a vertical panel upon which you put your shelves or display accessories, two legs and bracket strips at either end of the unit, and a base shelf at the foot of the unit.

What are the advantages?

Starter bays are very flexible. They come in both single sided and doubled sided models and can be positioned anywhere in the store. Because they have two legs, they can be used as standalone displays on the shop floor, against wall space or in a store window. They can also be used attached to other bays to create aisles through your store to improve browsability. As they are easily moved around the store, you can change up displays as you please.

What can they be used for?

Starter bays can be used for both your main bulk product lines as well as showcase displays. As they are often used as the first bay in a store aisle, they typically display the most popular, eye-catching or convenient products that customers will want to be able to find easily.

Add on bays

What are they?

Add on bays are, as the name suggests, bays that you purchase to add onto starter bays. They will be the same dimensions and in the same style as the starter bay but they only need one leg as one side attaches to the leg of the previous unit. You will need add on bays if you want to build long aisles in your store. You can buy as many of these bays as you want, depending on how large your outlet is and how long you want your aisle to be.

What are the advantages?

The main advantage to add on bays is that they give you a lot of extra retail space. They are sleek in design and take up less space as they fit neatly together. In addition to this, they are usually cheaper than other bays such as starter bays, making it easier to purchase multiple products if you really want to maximise your floor space. 

If you want to get creative, add on bays also give you scope to experiment with your store design, for example you could buy bays in two different colours and alternate them along a store aisle to create a patterned effect.

What can they be used for?

Add on bays are typically used for your main product lines that you may want to display in bulk, whether this be clothing, groceries, hardware, electronic goods or anything else. If you have large quantities of products, you can arrange them on hooks or prongs in a hangsell formation which enables you to get larger quantities out on the shop floor in a well-organised fashion.

Feature bays

What are they?

Feature bays are units that give an elegant finishing touch to aisles on the shop floor. They are also known as end bays and are basically gondola units that can bookend a run of starter and add on bays at either end. Some stores may choose to just have a feature bay at one end of an aisle. They are an optional addition and are only suitable for double-sided aisle displays.

The design of feature bays is largely similar to starter bays, with two legs and brackets at either side. However, they are sometimes narrower than feature and end bays and the base shelf may be of a different size.

What are the advantages?

 These units can make stores look more visually attractive as well as creating useful extra display space. As they fit onto the end of other gondola displays at a 90-degree angle, they are frequently the unit that is facing the store entrance. Because of this, stores often make a special feature display (where the name comes from) or place the most eye-catching products.

What can they be used for?

Feature bays are perfect for any kind of special standalone display. This could be for discount sales, time-limited promotions, to showcase visually appealing products or to create fun themed displays. It is with feature bays that you can most make use of the many different gondola shelving accessories to develop innovative and eye-catching displays that will draw in more customers.

Looking to refurbish your retail space? Contact Shopfittings Direct as soon as you can! We supply an extensive range of shop shelving and accessories at great prices and with affordable delivery options. Visit our showroom in Sydney, call (02) 9608 5122 or email