Have you ever fully analyzed a grocery store and questioned why certain things were in certain places? Okay, you may not have done a full analysis, but you probably wondered why the meat section was always somewhere in the back and the produce displays sat right at the forefront of the store. Truth be told, there are a lot of viable reasons why grocery stores adhere to a specific layout. It’s not just a random design - the layout of each store is designed to enhance customer experience, improve flow, maximize safety, and more.
So, if you have ever wondered why the layout is so important and not just a random feat of design, here’s why!
Grocery stores come in all shapes and sizes. Some are massive and others are smaller, express type stores. Regardless, those designing the space have to optimize the square footage they are given. This means putting as much product out as possible without compromising the flow of the store. The displays that hold merchandise help keep it organized so more can be put out without overwhelming customers.
It’s no secret that the more products a store puts out, the more sales profit they can generate and optimize square footage plays a huge role in this. Stackable shelves, carefully placed deli displays, and rows of freezers are just some examples of how grocery stores can leverage their space, put out more products, and keep the flow of the store intact.
What’s a grocery store without customers? Customers are critical for, of course, generating profit for the store. Therefore, designers and planners carefully analyze the behaviour and movement patterns of customers. No, they aren’t following you around the store watching your every move, don’t worry! They are simply seeing how customers tend to shop and how the overall flow impacts their shopping. Having essential items too close together, for example, can cause stores to lose sales by not enticing customers to shop other aisles. Having essential items in a sporadic pattern, however, may confuse and tire customers. Designers and planners want customers to get their shopping done in a convenient manner and get everything they need without having to go back and forth.
The only way businesses can stay afloat and succeed is if they make money. Believe it or not, the layout of a store actually has a huge impact on the store's ability to make money. The longer a customer is in a store, the more money they are likely to spend. This is why you will notice “essential” aisles such as dairy, meat, and produce are all relatively far from each other and spread across the entire store. In order to get your essentials, you have to sift past the various aisles, some containing items you don’t really need, but they caught your attention. You may have gone into the store for tomatoes, eggs, milk, and chicken, but now you’re leaving with that plus a pack of Oreos, a new cooking oil, a 12 pack of pop, and more.
Stores keep the essentials relatively far apart so you get a chance to bypass all the aisles and potentially stumble across something else. With that being said, the placement of these essential departments, as mentioned before, is still kept well-planned and adhere to the flow of the customer. You can hit all these spots without having to go reverse back constantly, but you’re probably going to hit up some other aisles on your way.
Unfortunately, there are some who prefer not to pay for their merchandise and resort to stealing products. Cheap or expensive, a loss is a loss. Designers and planners have taken note. Next time you take a trip to your local grocery store, take a look at what’s in the front of the store vs. what's in the back and what's behind a case vs. what's not. You will notice that more expensive items such as meats, cheeses, and bakery items are in the back whereas produce and smaller items reside at the front. Why is that? Should a thief attempt to steal a high-priced cheese wheel, for example, their chances of making it out of the ENTIRE store before getting caught, either by staff, shoppers, or security/security footage are slim. If this expensive cheese wheel was at the front of the store, the thief would have more time to get away and less chance of getting seen.
Pricey items, such as the ones mentioned, are also usually kept behind cases and in order to make a purchase, you have to engage with a staff member. These types of displays keep the items safe. Think about it, thieves want to be silent and there is nothing silent about shattering a large glass display case!
All in all, the layout and display of a grocery store has many benefits for the consumers, store employees, profit, and security of the items. Next time you head to your local grocery store, take these thoughts into consideration and see how the layout stacks up.
Designers, planners, grocery store owners - looking to optimize your store layout? Contact us today and we can help you display your items safely and proudly!