Are supermarkets designed in the best way?

I recently came across this article about a supermarket designed with health and nutrition in mind. A lot of strategy and consumer psychology goes into the design of a supermarket, so it begs the question, are supermarket designs working towards the best outcomes?

  • Yes, I think supermarkets are generally well designed.
  • No, I think there is room for improvement in supermarket design.

0 voters

Things to consider include whether the items you require are easy to find, whether the products are collected logically, whether it’s to understand the type and purpose of a product and so on. Please feel free to elaborate on your thoughts in the comments below.


They are certainly designed in the best way to maximise profits! Layout of generally such that you have to walk through much of the shop in order to find frequently purchased perishables such as milk, bread etc. I guess they hope you will be distracted by promotions along the way and buy more stuff.


Very true. I remember reading an example from the US where a study of rewards points data led to a design change, as they noticed that a lot of people were coming in just to buy beer and nappies. They changed the product placement so that these two items were side by side, which increased sales significantly.


Honestly the only thing that annoys me about supermarkets are the people in them, not the layout. Having the perfect layout is pointless if someone has their trolley sideways across the entire aisle stopping anyone getting past.


It can be a practice in patience, especially when it’s busy. Serenity now! :joy:


Fresh Fruit, Vegetables, Milk and others stored in cold/cool conditions were generally placed as the last items so that customers got them as the last items before leaving the store, hopefully keeping them cooler for the customer on their way home. Not so sure it works that way for many Supermarkets these days eg Woolies (veggies, milk and cool dairy and similar close to entry, freezer and meat close to entry or back section), Coles (milk & cool dairy & freezer on the last aisles generally), ALDI seem to place it all last in most stores. It would also be interesting to get some feedback on when people who are out shopping do the grocery part of their trip eg first, during the middle, or at the end of the visit. Do any break their shopping up into dry/non perishable food first, then other shopping eg clothing, lunch…, and then cold/cool items or any other variation on their shopping purchase habits?


Both our local supermarkets have the veg, bread and meat closest to the entry (different to @gordon’s neck of the woods it seems) - it makes sense to me to pick those items up last as they are the most susceptible to crushing or temperature - yet like a sheep I still go there first and juggle the trolley contents :rofl::rofl: I think its an emotional response - meat and veg is way more exciting than cans and packets … I should save the best until last.

I’m led to believe layout of supermarkets is ‘a science’ …

The self serve checkout area in both was designed by a complete Muppet. They are already saving floor space, money on staff - yet they cram these things in so tight its difficult to access with trolleys - particularly the corner units. Out local Woolies has one particular security guard (not a Woolies staffer) who seems to be tasked to ‘manage the flow’ and get quite stroppy when I tell him the free checkout is too space restrictive.


ALDI stores I visit have the biscuits, lollies, chips, Coffee, Tea, Jams, other spreads, tinned and most dried fruits at the beginning of the shop, non-perishable foods such as tinned salmon, personal care, household products eg toilet paper, wraps eg foil, cleaning products and drinks next, then specials in the middle aisles, then freezer and cool eg fruit, milk, butter stuff follows with eggs and bread as the last items in the rows before you hit the registers.


I think that a supermarket layout or design won’t be perfect for everyone, as everyone has different shopping needs and purchases.

For me a perfect design/layout would be to have all the items I need in one aisle…but then those who don’t buy the same items would be tramping up and down each aisle to get their own shop.

We also write a list of items we need to purchase and only go down the aisles where we have something we need (we know our local supermarket well). This means only a few rather than all isles are traversed…saving not only our legs, but time. Some isles we hardly ever visit are the softdrink and chips; chocolates/lollies and stationary/magazine; and petfood aisles.

Edit: What is a little frustrating is when they decide to do a refit and change the location of where things are. While it is frustrating (and results in the buying of goods one didn’t usually intend to purchase as all aisles are visited), over several weeks one’s brain learns the new locations of product groups and everything ends up being back to normal.


My complaint is not regarding the layout but rather the signage and floor staff, or lack thereof.

Both our local Coles & Woollies have poor signage suspended above the ends of the aisles with many product categories not listed and generally no staff to be found to ask where something is.

One nearby Coles does not even have Canned Fish listed and it is in a odd aisle.

Our local Supa IGA has much better signage with many product categories listed on each end of aisle sign and there are always staff in the aisles to ask and they can always tell me which aisle and whereabout in the aisle a product is.


Our IGA is different to yours…lack of signage, a lack of Staff even at registers at times. I think it is a store by store differing experience for all. Not every Woolies has the same layout as the next, nor do Coles, even some ALDIs vary in slight ways (though they do have a standard set out for each store type). Some Woolies and Coles I think are structured to the demographics of the area they are in. To be cynical so are their prices.


At Woolies here, all the deodorants including roll-ons are locked in a cabinet in the aisle - to purchase a roll-on, one needs to find a staff member, who then has to find the key and visit the aisle with you to release these dangerous products, located some distance from the not so aptly named ‘service desk’. It makes things tense when you want to check labels and can’t make up your mind :wink:

There’s also talk here that soy sauce and some other products will only be available from bottle shops during bottle shop hours where we have to provide government ID to be scanned before purchase and potentially be quizzed by the police who are stationed at every bottleshop entrance (who also check the same ID that needs to be presented to the cashier for scanning). At least the queue at the register is generally shorter than the supermarket!

It would also mean these products can’t be mail ordered unless the vendor is a registered interstate liquor vendor … but I digress …

(Edited to point to Soy Sauce thread …)


No it done for entirely different reasons. One aim is to fill your head with the images of fresh produce as soon as you enter so the entrance is directly into that area. This is to suggest that the whole experience is one of healthy purchases. Milk is positioned so you have to walk past the lines they want to push to get to it.


Yes the marketeers’ best outcomes. That is why, inter alia, lollies and toys attractive to small children are placed low down near the checkout, adults are trapped there in the queue while junior pesters them to buy some.


Or placed right in front of them as they enter a store. Both tactics in use on the war on your wallet/purse.


Our closest ALDI has just had a makeover. The fridges and freezers used to be close to the checkouts. Now, if you follow the natural layout from the entrance, they are encountered very early on. I find this incredibly annoying.


Yes, once you just got used to the layout and try to find items quickly they change things around to make the shoppers wander again to find their items.


The answer to that question depends from which point of view we’re looking at:
If from the Supermarket’s selling strategy
then: yes, they’re very skilfully designed
to attract our attention to all items, not just those on our shopping list, and to induce impulse buying. Selling is an art, and it is well learned and applied by Supermarkets especially by the Big ones.

From the point of view of the vulnerable customer: No, the stores are not well designed for those who need to get specific items and are not interested in anything else.

It is a bit of a battle out there, and we better get well equipped and strong, resist all attacks,
learn from our mistakes, get up and fight
another day!:wink:


The way that supermarkets use their design to maximise sales of food etc that we should, and many people want to, avoid would be one reason for people moving to online grocery shopping. This seems so obvious to me but I haven’t heard it mentioned in discussions about why people shop online.


The exact same tactics are used online though. Companies like Amazon spend huge amounts of money analyzing people’s purchase patterns (something physical stores have a harder time doing) to figure out how to best push and price their exclusive ranges and keep people locked into their system.