Location, Location, Location!!

For many years in the retail food industry it still baffles me as to why more retailers and brands do not understand the importance of product placement in the retail environment.  To be clear, I am not talking about whether a can of beans is placed at eye-level, or the bottom shelf, although there are learnings to be had in this area.

But just like commercial real estate, there are “hot” traffic spots where shoppers are a plenty and conversely, “cold” forgotten places in the store that neither customer or stock clerks frequently traverse.  In fact most retailers design their stores today much the way they have for the past thirty years.  Perishables on one side or the other, Meat, Seafood, and Dairy along the back of the store and everything else is slammed in the middle…..usually driven more by logistics and the placement  of freon lines than anything to do with how the customer traverses the store.

In my humble opinion, the smartest guy in the room on this subject is Herb Sorensen.  Herb recently retired from TNS-Sorensen Research in Troutdale, Oregon, but Herb is one of those guys that will re-define retirement, just as he has redefined how we should be thinking about store design and layout.   I had the pleasure and honor of working for Herb for a brief time, but he departed much wisdom on yours truly, wisdom that I have vowed to continue to propagate whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Red "Hot" Spots and Blue "Cold" Denote Variations in Shopper Traffic

For instance, when retailers put all the sale items and perishable departments on the perimeter of the store, intuitively the “race track” around the store benefits from more traffic, but there are proven techniques to modify shopper traffic, populating “cold areas” with shoppers by eliminating barriers and strategically using “driver” or destination categories as a means to balance the traffic in the store, thus exposing more shopper traffic to more categories and departments, without inconveniencing the shopper.



While end caps are often coveted or even “sold” to the retailer’s brand partners, the amount of traffic and the likelihood of purchase various greatly from one end cap location to the next, depending upon where the end cap is located in the progression of the shopping trip as well as it’s location vis-a-vis the in-aisle location of the category.

Further and finally, shoppers spend more earlier in the their trips than later, they move faster the longer they are in the store, thus creating opportunities for “selling” and impulse buying in selected areas of the store, early on in their trip.  There are at least a dozen more “store traffic flow truisms” that are valuable principles for every retailer, no matter what store size or configuration.

Retailers who understand these basic principles of shopper traffic in their stores, can increase sales and shopper satisfaction, by leveraging this information for a more efficient trip for the shopper and a more profitable trip for the retailer!!  Measuring and modifying traffic flow in the store can be a very inexpensive way of increasing sales and making promotions more effective.     mh

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