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How To Stand Out on Retail Shelves

Updated: Jun 23, 2021

From the moment a customer walks into a store, they are inundated with choice. They need to choose between the products they want and the products they need, but they also need to choose between your brand and your competitors’ brands.

Your brand’s ability to capture the consumer’s attention, address their needs and desires, and stand out as the superior option will help your brand achieve greater sales and grow a loyal customer base.

A combination of effective branding, merchandising and strategy can help your brand stand out as the preferable choice in retail spaces. It is particularly important to continuously gather data and make changes in your marketing and merchandising strategies to either correct or optimize your in-store presence based on that data.

There are three tips to help increase your brand’s visibility on retail shelves:

1. Keep your shelves fully stocked

When consumers fail to find your product on shelves because inventory ran out or ineffective merchandising, they experience consumer dissonance. Consumer dissonance is the uncomfortable feeling that comes from one’s expectations being different from their current reality, in this case, the expectation that they would find your product or a particular variant of your product on store shelves being different from the reality that the product or particular variant is out of stock. This dissonance almost invariably leads to the consumer either choosing to visit a different store or worse, choose your competitor’s product.

The human mind likes to remain consistent with its past decisions so if a customer switches to your competitor once, it is very likely that they will form a preference for your competitor.

To avoid losing customer loyalty and potentially capture dissatisfied customers from your competitors, it is important to ensure your product is always abundantly available on store shelves, in as many varieties as possible or at least practical. Ensuring your product is always available on the shelf signals to consumers that your brand is reliable and they can keep coming back to buy more. Adding all the variants of your product to that reliability means consumers have to expend their decision-making capacity, which happens to be a finite mental resource, on your brand only which helps you increase your market share and sales.

Merchandisers are vital for keeping shelves fully stocked with your products.

They need to be adequately trained and motivated to be proactive about inventory. It also helps to make sure they are not over-worked with too many stores that are far apart from each other so they can operate effectively.

2. Negotiate for Prime Shelf Space

Not all store shelves are created equal. Supermarket shelves can generally be placed into four categories and the shelf level determines how well products placed there will sell. The four categories are

  1. Stoop Level: This is the lowest level, typically below 0.9m. Products placed here either have very low margins or are particularly heavy and are placed here for safety purposes. This shelf level is not obvious to the eye and people are generally unwilling to bend over to look for products there so it is not ideal shelf space.

  2. Touch Level: These shelves are between 0.9m and 1.2m and products placed here will sell very well with children. Touch level shelves are both within the reach and line of sight of children and brightly colored products are strategically placed here so children can beg their parents to buy them. These products are also within easy reach for most adults, making this shelf space lucrative with a larger range of people.

  3. Eye Level: These shelves receive a lot of attention from adults and receive significantly more attention from adults. They are typically placed between 1.2m and 1.5m, where they are within the line of sight and reach of most adults.

  4. Stretch Level: Any shelves above 1.7m are in the stretch level. This shelf height is outside the line of sight for most people and a significant number of people cannot reach these shelves to look for products so it is not a good placement.

Depending on the product you are selling, your products should ideally be in either the eye level or touch level shelves so they can get the most attention from shoppers.

3. Use Shelf Signage

Shelf signage is an important part of any merchandising and retail marketing strategy. There are a variety of types of signage, such as shelf talkers, wobblers and data strips, that serve different purposes and can all be leveraged for greater brand visibility and sales.

Shelf signage can have a real impact on consumers’ buying decisions, particularly when the product category has a lot of competition. Just being slightly more visible to the consumer through extra branding can help them make the choice to pick your products over your competitors.

In order to deliver the best results, shelf signage must follow these rules:

  1. Use bold, striking design: The primary purpose of shelf signage is to draw attention so it needs to be attractive and interesting. The design can incorporate cutouts and bold colors to ensure the consumer can see it from far away. It is also important to note that the use of color should be appropriate to the product category.

  2. Keep it concise: Shelf signage should only convey the minimum information necessary to communicate the value being delivered. Whether the signage is informing the consumer of a discount or inviting them to try a new addition to the product lineup, it should not be dense with information.

  3. Use large, bold typography: The typefaces selected for the design of the shelf signage should be easily legible from a distance. This ensures that the message is received by as many people as possible.

Using signage effectively on store shelves can influence purchasing decisions, communicate value, increase brand visibility and awareness, and increase sales. This makes signage a vital part of any retail marketing strategy.


Retail outlets are very competitive and it is important for any brand that wants to succeed, to stand out and be as prominent as possible to the consumer. It is important for brands to make use of merchandisers to get products placed on the best shelves, keep those shelves fully stocked at all times and to ensure there is adequate shelf signage.

If you would like to launch a retail marketing campaign in 2021 and need the assistance of experts in the field, please contact us, we would be happy to help your brand stand out.

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