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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Random Thoughts: Grocery Store Layouts

Do you ever think about how your grocery store is laid out? I'm guessing you only notice when they move aisles on you. Did you ever wonder what the method to their madness was - or even if they had one?

Most stores have similar plans with produce, meat, bread, and dairy along the edges of the store (aka - the racetrack) or up against the walls. They also put the most commonly purchased items in the back corners so that you have to walk past the other items on your way to get what you want.

Unless pressed for time, most shoppers will follow the store's orientation; most new or newly remodeled stores are set up to the left, while older stores tend to be oriented to the right. The majority of the US population prefers to travel clock-wise, which is why the newer stores orient to the left with the produce section with its bright colors, fresh appearance, and appetizing odors.

There is an extremely low occurrence of people traveling up and down each aisle of the store. Most people will travel to select aisles or make a short excursion in to and out of an aisle. This is why end-caps are so important to stores. They serve as a 'welcome mat' to invite you to come in to the aisle and see what else is there. Often familiar brands or sale items are placed on the end-caps to increase traffic to particular parts of the store, even if those items are found in a different part of the store.

Believe it or not, quite a bit of research is conducted concerning shoppers behavior and how stores can redirect it to their benefit. If you have some spare time and this topic catches your fancy - here is a research paper on this very topic. So what are the keys to successfully navigating your store? Always go to the store with a list of items you are there to buy and never on an empty stomach - the stores are banking on impulse buys. They put the commissary (cooked, ready-to-eat items) and Starbucks there to entice you with appetizing sights and smells - its been proven to make you stay longer and spend more. And shop the edges of the store, you will save on your food bill and find some of the healthiest items in the store.

Happy shopping!


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