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How To Increase Sales With a Grocery Store Layout Strategy

Is your grocery store layout leading customers into dead ends instead of your most profitable aisles?

Without a well-thought-out grocery store floor plan designed to guide your customers’ journey, you ensure they’ll miss your most high-end (and high-profit) offerings.

This sets off a vicious cycle where key promotions go ignored, entire categories stand still, and dizzying traffic paths stifle overall basket growth. Before long, your once-promising grocery business nosedives as customers flock to competitors with stores strategically designed with a better flow. 

In this article, we’ll explore some simple tweaks you can make to your floor plan that will help you steer every shopping trip toward fully stocked carts and longer receipts.

8 Tips for Your Grocery Store Layout Strategy 

Layout is crucial for any retail store, but it can be especially impactful for grocery store owners. The way you arrange your store and place your departments impacts your customer behavior and, by extension, your bottom line. Let’s examine a few ways your layout can boost sales in your store.

First and foremost, a good layout strategy increases merchandise visibility. You want to place high-demand and high-margin products in primary locations where customers can easily spot them. Don’t bury essentials like dairy, produce, and meat in the middle aisles. Instead, position them around your perimeter to make them easy to spot and access.  

Related Read: How To Manage a Retail Store: 6 Steps to Success

Your layout also dictates traffic flow. Clear, wide aisles and logical transitions from section to section result in a more enjoyable shopping experience. When customers feel like they can breathe in your aisles and see the products on your shelves, they’ll find what they need more efficiently and with less stress. 

Most importantly, layout directly impacts sales. An effective strategy guides customers through the entire store, exposes them to new items, and makes it easy to get what they need and get through the checkout. The more comfortable you make customers in your store, the more time they spend browsing. And, of course, more time spent exploring merchandise leads to higher impulse buys.

With these insights in mind, let’s now dive into our list of tips to improve your grocery store layout strategy.

1. Place the Produce Department at the Front 

Our first tip for improving your grocery store layout is to start on the right foot: displaying your fresh produce.

Produce is colorful and eye-catching, and if your store can show off a produce section fully stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, you can establish a positive first impression. Brightly-colored fruits and veggies signal your store’s commitment to quality. No one wants to shop at a grocery store featuring only wilted lettuce and a picked-over display of apples. Putting your well-stocked and curated produce section front and center shows your customers that they can trust the products from your store. 

Related Read: 6 Tips To Develop a Comprehensive Grocery Store Business Plan

Your produce section also involves more engagement than any other section in your store. Customers will handle produce, inspecting it for ripeness rather than simply grabbing a box or bag from the shelf. Make your produce section open, leaving lots of room for multiple shoppers to peruse the section without getting claustrophobic. 

An additional benefit here is that a busy produce section at the front of the store will make your shop appear more popular to customers from the moment they walk in the door. 

2. Place Staples Near the Back 

You know your staple products: milk, eggs, bread, and household products, to name a few. These products are not impulse buys — they’re often what brings a customer to your store in the first place. So, the best way to increase sales is to place these products far from your store entrance. 

Customers coming to the store for a few simple staples will then need to walk through your entire store to get what they came for. Position high profit margin or in-demand products in the most common walkways a customer might use to make a beeline for these staples, encouraging an impulse buy. 

When you save your prime real-estate shelving in the front of the store and along high-traffic aisles for non-staple items, you expose customers to items they didn’t plan to buy but might find useful. Simply moving your household products to the back of your store might just result in an uptick in cross-selling.

3. Place Bakeries Near the Entrance 

Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh-baked bread or pastries? 

When you position your bakery section near the front of your store, you give new customers an immediate first impression of the smell of delicious, nostalgic baked goods. These scents activate your customers’ hunger and might entice them to wander through the bakery aisles to see what catches their eye. Even if a customer came to the store looking for weekly staples, they may leave with a package of brownies as an impulse buy.

Additionally, making customers hungry as soon as they enter your store can encourage impulse buys in other sections of the store. 

Lastly, not all grocery stores have bakeries inside. Placing your bakery section near the entrance signals to customers that your store offers specialty options, which appeals to many customers looking for an all-in-one experience from their grocery store. 

Related Read: [GUIDE] How To Open a Small Grocery Store in 8 Steps

4. Place Meal Solutions Near Related Ingredients 

Meal kits like the ones offered by Hello Fresh or Everyplate have grown in popularity in recent years. You can capitalize on this trend in your store by strategically shelving the ingredients for a full meal together to make shopping easier for busy customers. 

Consider implementing recipe cards or taking advantage of recipes provided by food manufacturers, then giving customers an easy one-stop-shop for every ingredient they may need for that meal.

For example, you may place a recipe for a simple, make-it-yourself pizza out in front of pre-baked pizza crusts, shredded cheese, marinara sauce, and other toppings like pepperoni and canned mushrooms. 

The more convenient you make one-stop shopping, the more likely customers will purchase the full list of ingredients to speed up their cooking.

5. Analyze Basket Data To Group Commonly Purchased Goods 

If you want to increase the average basket size in your store, you need to encourage more impulse purchases. One of the best ways to do this is by placing items frequently purchased together on shelves together. This placement helps jog customers’ memories and encourages them to buy items often paired together.

How can you identify the items most shoppers purchase together? Simple: Analyze your point of sale (POS) data. Identify patterns of products many shoppers purchase in the same visit. Then, shelve these complementary items together. 

This measure helps boost sales by increasing impulse buys and increases customer satisfaction. Customers will appreciate the convenience of grabbing multiple items they need at once — after all if the items were shelved separately, they may forget to grab an essential and have to make another trip back to the store to get it later. 

6. Organize Checkouts for Quicker Throughput 

The last thing you want is for customers to come to your store, select their items… then abandon their full cart because of their frustration with waiting in long, snaking lines at the checkout. Maximizing your checkout layout can minimize wait times and get customers through more quickly, keeping them happy and the profits rolling in. 

Position checkouts in an easy-to-spot place with plenty of staff available to help customers needing assistance. Implement self-checkout kiosks for express lanes to help customers get in and out more quickly if they are just popping into your store to grab a few items. 

Related Read: The 7 Best Grocery Store POS Systems [Pricing and Reviews]

A robust point of sale system can help optimize grocery store checkout experiences. Choose a solution with flexible payment options to accept credit, debit, and mobile payments in addition to cash. If customers know they can always get through the checkout in your store without frustration, they’re more likely to return the next time they need groceries or other essentials. 

7. Place Grab-and-Go Items Near the Front 

Ready-made sandwiches, hot coffee, and snack items are all great options for grocery stores, as they offer convenience for customers while turning a higher profit margin than typical grocery store products. Place these items near entrances or right beside the checkout to get the most bang for your buck.

Shoppers can quickly access these convenience purchases if they’re just rushing in for a few items, or can tack on a snack when checking out after a lengthy grocery trip. Giving these grab-and-go items prime placement helps you capitalize on hunger-based impulse buys and makes the most of those only wandering in for a drink or small bite.

8. Consider Line of Sight 

Finally, you need to make the most of sightlines when mapping your grocery store. Where will customers’ eyes go when navigating your store? And how can you maximize your layout to catch their eye with the right products at the right time?

Some tips include placing kids' snacks and other items children want on lower shelves. This puts them in the kids’ sightlines and increases the chances they’ll ask their parents if they’ll buy them. You’ll also want to make the most of your use of endcaps. These prime placements are visible from multiple aisles and points in the store, so put top-sellers and other high-draw items here to help customers find what they need and encourage a purchase. 

Improving Your Grocery Store Layout Strategy 

The eight strategies in this post can all help you make the most of your grocery store layout strategy. But before you begin rearranging your shelves, ensure you have the information you need to back up those decisions. Intuition can help guide your decisions, but you need to understand your store’s numbers — the hard data behind what people are buying and when — before you adjust your layout.

If you’re struggling to get these granular analytics and insights, you need a next-level point of sale system. POS Nation delivers an all-in-one point of sale solution that connects all your business processes, from inventory management to customer loyalty programs. Our prebuilt reporting features help unlock your sales trends and more, giving you everything you need to plan the perfect grocery store layout strategy. 

Schedule a free software demo today to see how POS Nation can elevate your layout decisions beyond guessing games and help you make real, data-driven decisions for your store. 

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