End caps are a powerful tool in the retail merchandising world, whether they're being used in a supermarket to highlight products on sale or in a bookstore to present new releases or staff picks. The merchandise placed at the end of an aisle is especially attractive because it doesn't compete with other items for the attention of customers. The smaller display area works in the favor of retailers by providing a compact area to showcase specific items. Merchandising design site Discovery-Based retail pointed out that end caps were once used almost exclusively for sales, but opinions have changed, and there is now more of an emphasis on promoting new items as well as using the space to provide more information about them.
Here are a few tactics merchants can try to improve their visual merchandising efforts with end caps:
- Use accessories and related items: Cross-selling is one of the biggest strengths of an end cap. Related products of all kinds can be placed on these store display fixtures to encourage further purchasing and present customers with options to make the initial selection more exciting. Some basic ideas are to include complementary jewelry at the end of an aisle of clothing or to put the first part of a popular book series on an end cap next to the newly released novel. The Houston Chronicle pointed out that grocery stores often nail the complementary concept, for example by putting tomato sauce on the end cap of an aisle featuring pasta products.
- Highlight something unique: Items on end caps don't have to compete with a lot of other merchandise sitting close by. For retailers with a wide array of offerings, end caps can easily feature the items that don't quite fit into a larger category but are still popular with consumers. These display areas can also highlight new arrivals, especially with some appropriate signage to draw further attention to that fact.
- Go for impulse: Smaller, inexpensive and frequently purchased items can all be effectively sold from an end cap. A grid panel display can be used for smaller products, while a wider array of items can be put into the customer's view with a three-way end cap. Using this eye-catching area to push impulse purchases is a good strategy no matter what market a retailer is in.