Friday, October 28, 2011

Aisle placement

People who shop regularly in shopping malls (which means all of you!) already know that product placement on aisles is a science, and a lot of thought is given to – which product goes where.

Now without getting into the details – products at your eye level are generally paid to be placed there by the manufacturer or for selling them off faster. On the other hand, staples (things that you would buy irrespective of where they are placed – salt, sugar, medicines … ) are placed on lower or higher aisles. Also same products with different expiry dates are kept in the FIFO way so that people pick up the older items before they go for the newer ones (that are kept at hard to reach places!).

The problem with all these intelligent placement algorithms is – even morons like me know about them. So naturally, when we go shopping, we try to game the system. I always reach out for the hard to reach places to search for “fresh” stuff. The problem for the shopping malls though is – everyone does that. The old stuff just becomes older and everyone picks up the fresh stock from behind. Even after discounting products to sell off the older stuff, people just take the discount on the newer items off the aisle!

So the owner of the grocery mall that I go to now has adopted a random placement policy. Even if you reach for the most difficult corner, you can’t be sure that you will get fresh stuff there. First few weeks, people unknowingly picked up older stock by reaching for the back. But these days, we (the shoppers) have become smarter. We actually go through the pains of handling all the items, checking their expiry dates and then picking up the freshest ones. Not only this makes the aisles all crowded (with each one of us spending a longer time searching!), but it also now has made the entire mall a messy place (with people keeping the items here and there to just search for the best!). This also has led to a lot of items getting damaged. I pity the owner, by trying to game the shoppers, that person ended up damaging goods and taking higher losses!

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