02 Dec

Principles of vertical merchandising

Have you ever noticed that the most popular products are very easy to find? It is because they are placed right in front of you – at eye level. This placement is certainly not accidental. We’ve written before about the principles that apply to the placement of goods inside a store, and now let’s downsize and analyze placements on the shelves. The products could be sorted out by importance, price, and package size. This categorization helps in deciding where to put your item. Remember, shelves in the store are not of equal value, so the placement of products may be based on the principles of vertical merchandising:

Eye-level – buy level?

Akiu lygis

In most articles and textbooks, we can find the principle that the most noticeable place on the shelf is at eye level. The field of view of a person is found to be at 27 degrees to the side of the eye level horizontally. 27 degrees up and 10 degrees below the eye level vertically. According to such calculations, the most noticeable place on the shelf is approximately at the level of about 170-175 cm.

What products are recommended to be placed at this level?

–         Growing demand for products

–         Well-known and popular brands

–         Attractive design or packaging

Another version of “eye-level”

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However, there is another “eye-level” version. A Nielsen study found that shoppers are more likely to choose products that are “waist-level” rather than regular „eye-level“. Nielsen’s study indicates that people’s gaze tends to move downward due to physiology. Because of that people find it easier to spot products that are 15 to 30 degrees lower than the natural eye level. Therefore, if we placed the same cans of the same brand on all the shelves, most of them would be bought at the level of a human torso.

Touch level

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The level of touch is between 90 – 120 cm. Manufacturers usually use this level to store goods for children. This level is similar height as the eye level of children and mainly attracts the attention of the little ones. You may not have noticed, but a wide variety of candy or colored sweets are often laid out at the touch level.

Lower level

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The lower level of the shelves is up to 90 cm high. The goods on these shelves do not fall into the buyer’s field of vision. These shelves are also more difficult to reach, especially for the elderly or people with disabilities. Because this level is hard to notice, these shelves usually feature cheaper, lower-margin products. The buyer’s attention will not be drawn to the goods standing on the lower shelf, therefore it is advisable to put the products that the buyer would naturally look for. Vertical merchandising principles suggest storing goods that are already well known to the buyer. Or just products for a specific purpose. it is recommended to store heavier products on the lower shelves for safety reasons.

The lower shelves have a so-called “Death Zone”. The goods are very rarely noticed in the lower-left corner. As a result, this place is only suitable for niche goods, or those that are purchased with the main product.

Upper level

The upper level is usually the shelves that are higher than 180 cm. As this level is also difficult to reach, it is recommended to place there specific, products that the buyer would be looking for. Of course, it is also not recommended to store heavy packaging for safety reasons. By default, buyers know that cheaper goods are placed on the lower shelves. While more expensive, higher quality ones on the upper ones. Using this principle we can increase the value of our product, by placing it on the upper shelf. Customers will see them as more exclusive and niche goods.

Vertical merchandising principles can be applied to the development of a product layout plan or the maintenance of product shelves in the absence of an approved planogram.


Eye level is buy level — The Principles of Visual Merchandising (and Shelf Placement) by Gia Phua Lihua

The smart shelf: Your pathway to winning in retail a guide on how can you as manufacturer win at the shelf by Nielsen Company (US), LLC

Basic shelf merchandising concepts by E&J Gallo University