Insider tips: Saving on groceries as easy as looking up

There’s a war going on in your grocery store, but learning the battlefield could save you money. 

Pay attention to placement to shop smarter. Experts say it comes down to understanding how store shelves are stacked so you can stack the odds in your favor.

“If you want to find your deals, for us, you’re going to find our BOGOS, some of our best deals, typically in the lobby,” says Joey Medina, Winn Dixie's regional vice president. “Endcaps, you’ll see great deals and value on front and back ends.”

Vendors are wheeling and dealing behind the scenes to snag those coveted spots

“There’s a whole art and science behind this. First of all, stores compete for real estate on the shelf space,” explains Robert Hooker, professor of marketing and supply chain management at the University of South Florida MUMA College of Business. “The products that are positioned at eye-level, that’s the most valuable space. Those end caps at the end of the aisles that you traverse up and down the store, it would seem like that would be where the sale items are going to be, and actually the companies pay great money to position their projects there."

The location along the aisle matters, too.

“So there’s a reason why, in your local supercenter, oftentimes beer and diapers are co-located together,” Hooker laughed. 

It’s all about triggering the impulse buy.

“Some of the products shoppers spend a long time looking at - say you go to the store and you're looking at coffee - those tend to be mid-aisle so they pull people in, so they spend more time looking at what they want to buy and pull off other things to buy other things along the way,” says Hooker.

Vendors pay more to be seen more.

Medina says at Winn Dixie, for example, the vendors provide incentives.

“If they want a display in the lobby, that's an incentive. If they want an endcap, that's an extra display and they do offer incentives for those but they do tie in with the season," he explained.

But that’s not the only reason products get placed where they do.

“For example, our top movers, our best sellers in a store typically command eye-level presence. Items heavy in nature go toward the bottom,” says Medina. 

Hooker added, “These companies are using market-basket data. They're looking at the big shopping trends. They're looking at what you're buying, and when, and they're making decisions about where to locate things in the store based on that."

To save money, don’t forget to look up, and down, and not just at what’s in front of you.