How do you organize a supermarket?

A supermarket in the United States is carefully designed to provide not only the basic necessities of food, but to also provide related products that reflects the one stop shopping experience. Every detail is considered from music to paint colors to small children. This provides a pleasurable experience to the consumer and encourages him to return and thus builds a customer base.

As Donald Trump observed, "God is in the details". One can purchase a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread in any convenience store, so why does the consumer shop the supermarket? Convenience and variety. The supermarket designer carefully considers the needs of the community, the ethnic makeup of the community, and the specialty items that must be accommodated. The store set up must accommodate the shifting buying habits of the public in terms of years.

The basic minimum needs (currently) are fresh departments (dairy, produce, deli, and meat) Frozen food, dairy, and canned goods. There must be a central check out, and services offered must be considered. In times past, there have been experiments in photo development, video rental, fresh bakery, specialty foods, floral offerings, and wire services. Some of these services are still available either in expanded versions or reduced versions.

The "layout" of a store is carefully considered. Since the general populace is right handed and the public always turns to the right when entering a store, the perishable departments are located on the right or to the rear of the store. For efficiency, these departments have hidden storage/work areas that promote good work/safety practices. Promotional specials are placed at the beginning of this area for two reasons. One is to provide a customer with ease of shopping the specials that are announced in the store's ad campaign for the week. The second is to promote a generous feeling in the customer that she can find the specials easily. A third reason is to provide ease of replenishment of a fast moving item.

Those items which are "impulse" items are arranged along the perimeter of the store, mixed with things that one ordinarily purchases. Flowers, fresh baked goods, and precooked hot foods are before or beside meats and produce. In the produce area, the fruits are before the root vegetables, and the fancy lettuces are marketed beside refrigerated salad dressings. These departments are arranged in the right-to-left pattern of the store for a reason. One picks fresh vegetables to go with meats first, then pairs canned goods, dry ingredients, and dairy products in accordance with the most expensive item in the cart..the meat. Seafood items are also packaged in the meat area as it is a related item. Sushi and exotic fish may also be in this area as an impulse item.

Notice in this tour that there will be "demonstration ladies" throughout the path. These ladies will sample new items or new formats of older items to introduce the public to a new offering. An alternative that is becoming popular is the in-house chef. This person cooks a sample meal, then provides a menu with recipes and alternates. This is an excellent marketing ploy because, with the taste of the food in your mouth, you will shop immediately for the products needed to make the dish. The store gains increased sales.

The grocery section is where the canned goods, dried goods, laundry products, junk food, and other items are stored. These shelving units are logically arranged in each store to provide the maximum return per linear foot. Notice that the sugared cereal is at a height that is accessible to children? Note that less expensive cereals are usually at the bottom of the shelving? Notice that tea is in a line with coffee, coffee creamers, filters, and cups and accessories. The space is designed to suggest related items that would not necessarily be on our shopping list.

Dairy products are also carefully marketed according to market distinctions. In some areas, brown eggs are more desirable. In other areas, white shelled eggs are the rage. Grocery stores are sensitive to the needs of the customer. If there is a need for pink ostrich eggs, the grocery that plans to stay in business will make large efforts to find those pink ostrich eggs for the customer. The recent trend of organic items is one example of a new product line that has exploded. Five years ago there was one major dairy company that sold their products. Today, there are at least six different firms that supplies dairy products in the Southern states.

Frozen foods are either in the center of the store or at the perimeter. The reason for this is that usually this is the last item purchased because of the heat factor. If the frozen food is in the center of the store, note that it is situated to directly encounter the check out stands. This provides for ease of exit, and discourages shoplifters who must go through this area to exit the store. It is difficult to exit the store without encountering several smiling people which discourages shoplifters further.

So we see that the common supermarket in the US is carefully thought out and designed to meet every food desire of the American public. For the most part this is accomplished quite well.