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Managing Your Customer Flow With Anchors

Posted on December 5, 2018 in Uncategorized

I have to admit that it is really interesting to me to see how the big supermarkets manage their customer flow by positioning specific products, in specific locations in their store. And what is especially interesting is that these stores seem to make use of “anchors” and then design their flow from there.

In my local grocery store it seems that they use essentially three anchors, intentionally positioned in a sort of triangle that covers the entire store. These anchors are milk, bread and the cashiers. Milk is in the one back corner, bread is in the other back corner and of course the cashiers are in the front and center of the store, as is customary for both security and practical reasons. Of course they have several other less important anchor type products that are spread in between the main anchor points, but again also placed at the back of the store. The doors of the store are also located in such a way that even they end up being part of the flow design.

This means that if I want both milk and bread (which is a daily staple) I need to traverse virtually the entire store to get both and then pay. And even if that is all I need, on my “journey” to get those two items, I am bombarded with advertisements, specials and even some impulse items, all designed to get me to throw in a few extra things. And more often than not I do.

Being a larger store one could certainly see the benefit. Interestingly enough though this simple principle works just as well for a small store. Allow me to illustrate.

My local gas station convenience store placed their milk in the one back corner as well. So I have to pass a whole lot of fun stuff (mostly impulse) to get just the milk. They however put the bread in the same row. This is a mistake. They are essentially wasting an anchor and if they placed it in the opposite back corner, chances are they could increase my “products viewed journey length” by more than double, even if my actual journey is not much longer. And can I really resist for that long?…

The point is that it works, and how you position your anchors will without a doubt influence your sales.

So when considering placement I would suggest that you start with critical anchors like your cashier stations. If security is a concern you know where you need to put those. If you sell perishable items, and need special equipment, this may prove to be a key anchor point, and you should start designing back from there.

The other thing to realize is that placing your anchors in the same immediate space is a total waste and a guaranteed loss of sales. Rate them according to need and likely frequency of sale, and then spread them throughout your store so the journey to get to them, is maximized.

Then combine your placement of anchors with specific and planned choke points, intuitive directional changes, pause points and specific and strategic product placements, and watch your sales soar.

I wish you all the best with your ventures and invite you to share your stories and comments here.