I walked out of my last grocery trip angry, frustrated, confused and, if it’s really a word, discombobulated.

Changing layouts can annoy customers

Pamela Riemenschneider
Aisle Wandering


My local retailer is playing a game with me that I do not appreciate.

They re-set the produce department. And when I say re-set, I mean the strawberries are where the cilantro was and the tomatoes and avocados are where the organics used to be.

This was so jarring that I couldn’t find the simplest things on my mental list. We all have that mental list, right?

Almost every time I go to the store, I buy:

  • cilantro;
  • broccoli;
  • avocados;
  • tomatoes;
  • apples;
  • citrus;
  • onions; and
  • sweet potatoes.

That list isn’t random. That’s the order in which I encounter these items as I walk in the store.

Cilantro is on the right, in the wet rack, followed by broccoli. Avocados are next, merchandised next to the tomatoes. Apples are on the other side of the aisle, near the citrus. Onions and potatoes are around the corner.

I know the thinking behind changing the layout. I can whip through that department in two minutes, grabbing everything I need and getting out of the store in record time. Changing the layout makes me see things that I might not have considered.

During a retail panel at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in Orlando, Fla., Tim Millett, a produce manager for Lin’s Marketplace, St. George, Utah, said he changes up his departments frequently.

It’s the best way to derail shoppers from that grab-and-go mentality and get them looking at other items in the department, he said. Millett said he sees a noticeable uptick in sales when he changes things up.

He probably doesn’t notice the little old ladies ready to pelt him with potatoes — which were where the tomatoes used to be.

At the time I recoiled in horror, thinking I have my system, and I don’t want it disrupted.

And now that it’s happened to me, I was right.

I hate it.

What do you think? Is it worth it to see an uptick in sales if you’ve ticked off your shoppers?

Visit me over at the Produce Retailer.com blog and leave your comment.

E-mail pamelar@thepacker.com

Are layout changes worth making some customers mad, or are they good for business? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.