The Art of Grocery Store Merchandising (Tips & Techniques)

Grocery stores are an essential part of our modern fabric of living. If you have decided to open one, Congratulations! A supermarket holds a lot of significance in India. Often seen as an excuse to get out of the house after work, a store is often seen as a community hang out.

The design of your store is essential to extract the maximum return on your investment. The store is a maze and your customer a navigator who needs to be guided through this journey. This blog will give you exactly what you need to optimise your store.

The path starts with the basic design of your store, which needs to grab the attention of a passerby as most grocery stores operate on walk-ins.

The Exterior

A modern updated outlook does wonders for a grocery store. Multiple surveys have highlighted the importance of the exterior of a store. The conclusion of these surveys being that focus on the external appearance is directly linked to customer satisfaction on the inside.

Perception is a big factor while deciding to enter a grocery store, as it is something most people return for. The opportunity to create a loyal customer base is high.

According to a 2011 survey by Morpace, a market research and consulting firm more than two-thirds of consumers decided not to visit a business, based on outer appearance.

The Signage

There are some tried and tested methods to get noticed. Signage ranks high on that list. Promoting attractive offers via signage would encourage people to stop and consider entering the store. The shop window has to be neatly set up with an up to date display showcasing what your store is best known for. E.g your store might carry the best seasonal produce, so your shop window should be accordingly set up.

The Entrance

The first 10 feet of your store determine the path that shopper would ideally take. A separate entry and exit are recommended, as that makes sure that a shopper can’t just leave, in case they change their mind.
In most stores, there are automatic barriers which can only be opened from the forcing a shopper to complete a round of the store before leaving, which increases the chance of conversion.

Fresh Produce

The entrance of a store should always be stocked with fresh produce, as this gives an impression to the customer of having entered a natural environment. It acts as an escape from the mono-color day to day life.

Another reason is consumer phycology, if a person buys fruits and vegetables first, they are more likely to spend on junk food as a way to reward themselves. Every seemingly random thing in a grocery store is actually a research-backed method of selling optimal quantities of product.


Retailers often don’t realize the big effect music has on the whole shopping experience. Pace, tempo, genre, and volume all play a huge role in setting the stage for shoppers. It is a commanding tool if used correctly. A slow tempo music would slow down the heart rates of customers which would, in turn, make them feel comfortable in the store. Increase in impulse purchase is then inevitable.

In conjunction with other senses, music becomes, even more, stronger, a neat arrangement and ability to touch products before purchase all have been seen to increase purchases even from non-impulse buyers.

Shopping Carts

Does a supersize shopping cart mean oversize spending? Well, it does. When shopping carts were first introduced in 1938, they consisted of two wire baskets stacked on top of one another. Now they have become nearly thrice the size and much less cumbersome.

Sales executives are trained to offer the cart before the basket as a strategic move. This method has its drawbacks as make the cart too large and your customer may just opt to stick to the basket and not use the cart at all. The customers who do this might convert later as they browse through the store and realize they need more space. Dispensing carts throughout the store is recommended for ease of transfer.

The Aisles

Most grocery stores are designed in a manner that elicits the best reactions from the customer. The aisles need to look organized and there should be an ease to the navigation being offered. Within an aisle, the popular products should be placed in the middle so that a customer passes by the other brands before reaching the desired product.

The Shelf Layout

This is a tried and tested method of selling products. The varying height of
the shelves can be leveraged to increase sales. At the adult eye level is the prime selling space, this is where you keep the best-sellers, the things shoppers buy on impulse or the slightly more expensive variants of the popular products. Right under the adult eye level is the “kid’s eye level, depending on what the product category is these are the products that you hope that the children would want their parents to buy for them.

The top shelving is the specialty products that make you stand out from your competition and every other premium brand. The lower shelves should hold bulk items and discounted products.

Promotional Offers

The lifeline of most grocery stores is what they can do to stand out in such an over-competitive market. With the technique of cross-selling, along with promotions, a high turnover can be achieved. It has a two-fold advantage, shoppers find related products quickly and you facilitate larger basket transactions.

Cross-selling is most effective when done less with signage and more with the actual products. Having food demonstrations throughout the store can work like a charm if placed correctly. Placing an air fryer with your new fryable nuggets and letting the customer experience it would create an opportunity for both the products to sell. Even something as simple as having the olive oil next to the salads would increase the conversion rate for both.
Promotional goods are often kept on the bottom shelf so signage for these items is necessary to draw attention. Neat signs highlighting the exact amount should be placed to ensure that customers can see them.

Product layout

Placing products throughout the store is an art. Customer preferences play a huge role in deciding where a particular brand of product is placed.

A customer after turning would always turn right, this area is your “power wall” where you place not your most popular but rather most attractive products further encouraging your customer to go explore your store further.
Staples like bread eggs and milk are usually placed at the back of the store, the more products your customer walks by, the more likely an impulse transaction takes place.

The Checkout Counter

The last stop in the grocery store experience is the checkout counter, it is an amalgamation of everything done thus far for you to increase your sales. This is the place which decides whether or not your customer would be a returning one. This is also the last step where a sale can take place if you play your cards right.

Impulse Purchase

A big drawback to physical stores are the unavoidable lines that exist, but this also gives you as a retailer the opportunity to provide an engaging selection of products around the Point of Sales area. 8 out of 10 shoppers waiting in a line claim to make an impulse purchase. Products with marked down pricing or available as a good deal are bestsellers around these areas. Commonly placed products around these areas are candy, cosmetics, magazines and bulk items.

Endcap Displays

The end of every aisle offers retailers a chance to advertise new or popular products. Known as an endcap display, this is an area where you can put your featured items, things on sale, or small impulse items. Divided into three verticals namely the banner, core and the stock, this feature encourages user interaction.

The banner would hold the value proposition, this needs to be used on a limited time offer to create an urgency in your customer so that they interact with the product moving into the core area. The core area is where the product is displayed, the touch and feel experience is set up to enable interaction and promote sales.

The bottom section is where the stock is, keeping it well stocked is essential so as to enable customers to pick and go to complete the purchase.

Loyalty Programs

Retail is a highly competitive market, to retain shares and growing a loyalty program can do wonders. The specifics of every program differ but essentially it is a marketing system that rewards purchasing behavior, thus increasing returning customers and guaranteeing their loyalty.

It has been proven in a 2012 Forbes study that acquisition costs of a new customer are 7 times higher than that of retaining an old one. Setting up of achievable goals for the customer in the program increases chances of participation.

A programme is also a gold mine for tracking customer habits to improve in-store experiences. Frequent introduction of exciting benefits will ensure a high engagement level.

Opening a grocery store in today’s health-conscious era is a smart move, but to be truly successful in it a wholesome approach needs to be taken. Keep in in mind the points given above and ensure that a frictionless experience is set for every customer that walks through your doors.


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