Visibility and availability are the lifeblood of grocery stores. If people aren’t aware your business exists or don’t know what you’re selling, you’re unlikely to get much foot traffic. “Build it and they will come” is a fallacy. It’s especially important to understand shopper psychology.

You don’t want your grocery to look like the warehouse you get your products shipped from. In fact, you want your shelves and displays to inspire your customers. Here are a few ways to improve visibility, optimize product placement and ensure availability at your store.

Keep it Clean and Up to Date

Keep your window display interesting, clean and up to date. Regularly clean the glass windows and keep the display floor as dirt-free as possible. Ensure the displayed products are free from dust, vibrant and current.

Don’t cram too many products in the display area. Space equals money for real estate brokers; in retail, space equals luxury and clutter is your enemy.

Signage should be both useful and aesthetic. According to the International Sign Association, signs don’t just mark the business. They’re also a way to attract new customers, brand the business and create impulse sales.

Update your store signs often. Handwritten signs may look welcoming in certain locations, such as a wine shop with a chalkboard-style sign at the entrance, but amateurish in others, such as grocery store aisle markers.

As a rule of thumb, your store signs should:

  • carry the same look and color as the rest of the brand
  • maintain a look and feel that’s consistent throughout the store
  • be adequately lit
  • be aesthetically pleasing and functional

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Use Point-of-Purchase Placements

Include impulse purchases at the cash register. Batteries, chocolates and magazines are all compelling. Many shoppers have a tendency to impulse purchase and sales professionals capitalize on this through “point-of-purchase placement.

Think about Shelving Strategy

Product placement on grocery store shelves follows a format. Top shelves commonly carry the smaller brands. The “bull’s eye zone” — also called the “thigh to eye” zone — is where top brands and hot-selling items sit. Shelves at kids’ eye level are strategically packed with items like sugary cereals, Goldfish crackers and fruit snacks — items kids are most likely to ask their parents to purchase. The bottom shelves usually contain bulk items — those big bags of rice and beans — and store brands.

Consider Specific Zones

The decompression zone is located at the entrance of the store. The bakery smells great, the produce looks beautiful, the buckets full of flowers look fresh and vibrant. There’s a reason all these items are located right up front in most grocery stores. They’re inviting and provide a sensory experience for the shopper.

The back of the store is where staples should be placed. Eggs, milk, bread — since most people who enter the store will need these items, they’ll have to walk through the aisles to get there, giving them the opportunity to see what else you’re selling.

Consider that only a small portion of the world’s population are left-handed, which is why most retailers guide shoppers to explore grocery sections from the right and then counterclockwise.

End caps are where certain brands are placed to stand out, at an additional cost to the vendor, and the center aisles are stacked with high-priced brands and seasonal items.

Manage Inventory

Keep your shelves adequately stocked. Understocking and overstocking are serious problems stores face. Understock and you lose potential sales, as customers run to the competition to find what they need. Overstock and you tie up capital in excess inventory.

Strike a balance by using current and historical data to determine best sellers. Use a point-of-sale system, like QuickBooks Point Of Sale for Grocery powered by Revel Systems, to help you seamlessly track and monitor all products in your inventory.

Get the Word Out

Social Media: Having a social media presence where customers can find store news, updates and offers keeps them engaged and nurtures relationships.

Flyers: Traditional marketing isn’t out of style. Flyer insertions in newspapers and magazines, as well as strategically placed posters and banners in your area or at the entrance to your store, help with brand awareness.

Website: A shopper study by GE Capital Retail Bank found that a whopping 81% of consumers go online to research and compare prices before heading to the store. They want as much information as they can get before making a purchase. Create a well-designed website featuring your products, store locations and other relevant information.

Email: Sending flyers, coupons and other marketing materials straight to your customers’ email addresses is a cost-effective alternative to direct mail, which is why if you haven’t yet started building an email list, you should.

Remember that just because customers entrust their email addresses to you doesn’t mean they grant you the license to bombard them with sales and marketing messages. Be respectful. Customers will welcome a regular newsletter and well-timed discount offers, but not obnoxious and pushy marketing messaging.

Community Presence: Participate in and host exhibits, bazaars, cookfests and other local events. Offer attendees or those that sign up for your email list at these events some type of freebie. And offer loyalty rewards so you get customers coming back regularly.

Increasing grocery or specialty store sales is no piece of cake. But as long as you keep visibility and availability in mind when devising a strategy or campaign, you are setting yourself up for success.

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