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Why Is Milk At The Back Of The Grocery Store And What Can You Learn For Your Business?

Have you ever noticed that, almost always, if you want to buy some milk from a convenience store, medium sized supermarket or a huge superstore, the milk is usually stored against the back wall.

In my local Asda, Tesco and Morrison’s, the milk is right at the back. In the Sainbury’s, it’s in an aisle close to the back.

Milk is a popular item and it is something that many people buy. You’d have thought that, for convenience, a shopper friendly store would have a refrigerator quite close top the entrance so that people who only want milk can grab it quickly.

I can’t think of anywhere that happens.

Instead the supermarkets force you to go deep into their store and past a large number of end of the aisle promotions offering BOGOFs or twofers. These “bargains” inevitably tempt many to slip something extra into their baskets.

Supermarkets may argue that it mains sense for them to put milk at the back for reasons that don’t involve hijacking your wallet.

Milk is heavy and therefore hard to transport. Of course so are cans of coke, bottles of beer and wine but they are rarely kept at the back.

Then there is the fact that milk has to be kept refrigerated so putting the refrigerators near the exist is likely to push up their costs because of heat coming in from outside. I’m not sure that excuse is genuine. I can think of stores with a nice convenient refrigerator full of ice cold drinks near the checkout points.

We also know that high margin, easy to forget items are deliberately put by the tills along with some tempting impulse purchases. Batteries are by the till but they will be a high price, high profit brand. The same applies to headache pills. the store doesn’t have generic paracetamol or ibuprofen but the branded alternatives. The same drug but three times the price.

This Is Not A Rant About Supermarkets

Can you learn from these “best practices” of supermarkets and apply similar lessons to your business?

It’s probably simple if you are also a retailer. You may be able to think of “essentials” that can be spread out around the store to get people in deep. You may also be able to think of a few tempting high margin impulse buys that solve a problem or satisfy a desire.

What about other types of business? Can you apply this logic or is customer convenience the driving force?

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