How the food product placement on supermarket shelves affects sales

Have you ever wondered whether there is a criterion for the allocation of food products in a supermarket? The answer is yes. In fact, various criteria and matters must be considered when it comes to distributing goods on the shelves, all of which have a major impact on sales.

Every supermarket is organised into walkways which, in turn, are made up of endcaps and aisles. The aisles consist of shelves to display the items and their ends are known as endcaps. These endcaps coincide at one end with the supermarket’s main walkway and at the other end with the side walkways. Do you think that the chosen end makes no difference? Well, it does.

Locating items on the correct endcap will generate more sales. Otherwise, it may happen that the customers are really interested in a product but its incorrect location makes it difficult to notice and as a result, it is not purchased. Easy accessibility of some items may also increase sales, especially in the case of impulse or unplanned buying.

For all these reasons, smart product allocation is key. Likewise, it is essential for retailers, manufacturers and suppliers alike to understand the criteria so that they can address these issues in their negotiations.


Benefits of smart food product shelf placement

Smart shelf space planning means positioning the products in a way that facilitates access for the customers. This strategy offers numerous advantages:

⇒ Drawing attention: the aim is for the product and its placement to exert a positive influence on the customer and facilitate purchase.

⇒ Discovering new products: smart placement of new products or items on sale makes them easier to notice, sparks the customers’ attention and encourages them to try them out.

⇒ Simplifying the buying process: placing each product in the most appropriate place and height for customers will facilitate their purchase and leave them with a more pleasant experience.

⇒ Increasing sales: smart shelf management directly affects the bottom line as it boosts sales.


Vertical shelf placement of food products

As for the height at which products are placed on the shelves, there are three categories:

⇒ At eye level: located within the field of vision. This is the main level. The products that the company is most interested in selling should be placed there as they either generate higher profit margin from their sale or they directly coincide with the needs shown by the customers. Items on sale are also located at this level as the supermarkets seek a direct impact and make them easier to notice.

⇒ At hand level: they are the easiest to grab as minimal effort is required. Common use products are placed at this level, those that the customers had already planned to buy. Products with low turnover are also placed at this level to facilitate their sale.

⇒ At foot level: products intended for children are usually placed at this height because they can pick them up and demand their purchase from adults. This level also includes products with low demand or with little sales interest for the company since they provide a lower sales margin.


There is a fourth height: the one above head level. This display area is used for very bulky products or as “storage” for quick replenishment. This area is hard to reach and therefore generates few sales. For this reason, very high shelves should be avoided as customers will only buy the products placed there if they are really interested.


Horizontal shelf placement of food products

In addition to the height, positioning of the products on each shelf must be carefully considered in order to boost sales in line with the objectives. To this end, there are several points to consider:

⇒ Items on sale should be placed at the endcaps. In addition, their presence must be highlighted with signage and their price must be highly competitive. All this will make customers take it as a reference to compare prices. If they find another product with the same characteristics that is cheaper, they will have the feeling that the supermarket is expensive.

⇒ Products of the same brand should be bundled together. If there are several products of the same category and brand, they should stand together. Products of the same brand should never be scattered among products of other brands. For instance: If there are beans, chickpeas and lentils of three brands on the tinned pulses shelf, the correct way to lay them out is to group the beans, chickpeas and lentils by brand.

⇒ Products of the same size should be displayed together. Shelves should aim for a certain homogeneity as to create a pleasing visual aesthetic that encourages to buy. If there is a height discrepancy between adjacent products, this gives off a bad impression and lack of order.


Factors to consider at the point of purchase

Though the shelves and their configuration are key to the shopping process, there are other factors that can increase sales. These have to do with the design of shopping area, the most essential of which are:

⇒ Lighting: light is essential for customers to see all products well. The distribution of the luminaries should seek to eliminate dark areas.

⇒ Order: the shelves should be organised well, avoiding empty spaces which convey an impression of scarcities.

⇒ Cleanliness: a clean shop favours the shopping process and conveys a sense of security. When customers enter a dirty place, they might think that the products they are going to buy are also not clean.

⇒ Expiration: controlling expiry dates is vital for food products, both for customers and for the management of the supermarket itself. An item that is out of date or in poor condition conveys negligence on the part of the company. In this sense, facing is essential as it allows to check expiry dates, organise the shelves and display a feeling of abundance.


The importance of product labels

Supermarket manufacturers and suppliers need to understand shelf management although they often have little influence over it. Nonetheless, they do have full authority over product labelling. An attractive label can catch the customer’s eye and boost sales.

Thus, food product labels should be based on a distinct aesthetic that is in line with the company’s philosophy and the values that it seeks to convey. And all this without overlooking that it must include all the necessary information for customers: from ingredients and allergens, to nutritional values and certification seals.

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