Have you ever wondered why a grocery store is laid out in a specific pattern or manner? When you enter a grocery store what is the first things you see? Why? Well it comes down to a strategy that when people enter the store the most used items that people need are fruits and vegetables. Operations Managers seek to make a wide variety of items available to the consumer of the products by making sure that the area is well lit, clean and well stocked.
Now as you venture through the store what other areas are accessible through your thought process as to the related item you would buy? Statistics has shown that as you move from the Fruits and Vegetables area you will encounter the border wall concept. This is a proven method that has been in place for some time, because people tend to move around the border wall to the Dairy or Frozen foods but it doesn’t just stop there. Think about how Walmart is laid out. You enter the store at the grocery entrance, and what are the first items you see? Fruits, Vegetables, Deli and fresh baked goods. These are the in demand items that the company wants you to buy, whereas the dairy is placed in the back of the store. So why not place like items together? Because research has proven over time that shoppers tend to purchase items according to their visual experience vs their immediate needs. Have you ever walked the isles and seen the visual concepts of the layout? Why is the Meats on one end of the store vs the checkout is on the very opposite end in clear view of each other? That all has to do with the conceptual layout of the store. They want you to purchase the meats. Then this… Next time you go grocery shopping you enter the store move up and down the isles and just take a look at what you see on either end. Vegetables on one end, meats on the other. A few isles down checkout on one end meats on the other.
It all comes down to an equation of needs vs wants. Grocery chains use a defined model of attaching your wants over your needs. Oh and the outer parameter that is also a proven model that places the most used and liked items in a specific location for easy access. If you take and list out two categories Needs, and Wants you would most likely place in the needs category veggies, fruits, bread, milk or dairy, eggs, some deli items vs prepackaged items. That brings up another point, Why is it that the deli is on one end of the store vs the prepackaged items on the other. What does the grocery store want you to purchase? Well it all depends on cost, life expectancy of the product, expected value and transportation. When do you need it: Now. When do you plan on using it: within the next few weeks… Buy the prepackaged items. How much is the fresh deli items vs prepackaged items: about .50 to .80 difference, but you wouldn’t know that at first glance.
Take another example of seafood. We all have a specific taste for different varieties of seafood but when you go to the fresh seafood section of the market and you find shrimp and you price it then just 10 feet away from that is the exact frozen items. Why? Well as said earlier it all boils down to conceptual thought processes to get you to make that impulsive but of the fresh over the frozen. The items are arranged in such a manner that makes them appealing to the customer, brings a good value and offers an expectation of quality. It satisfies you immediate wants and desires for that seafood, because your needs would tell you that Yes I can use the FROZEN variety anytime, but your wants have kicked in and on impulse you just bought the fresh variety instead.
So the next time you go shopping think about what I have written here. You will be amazed at what you will find and might even bring up new points from this.