Inspired End Cap Tips From a National Retail Consultant

end cap tips pharmacy retail

In the universe of retail, end caps are the center point of gravity. As shoppers orbit your store, end caps pull them in. Their heads, like bobbing planets, always rotate their way. Even shoppers zooming toward a destination can’t resist a well-designed display shining at the end of an aisle.

“There’s a lot of purchase power there,” said Therese Daves, CEO of Medallion Retail, a retail marketing agency that has worked with Starbucks, Hershey’s, Barnes and Noble, and other national retailers. “They are the premier spot because they are the most visible aspect of the store.”

End caps draw attention not only to their display but also to the rest of the aisle. “The end cap is the greeting. It’s the beginning of the chapter, letting them know what’s down the aisle,” Daves said. “It provides additional purchases rather than just going in there and getting what’s on their list.”

That means pharmacies stand to gain or lose substantial dollars depending on how they handle their end caps. “If I owned a small shop, I would make the end cap work as hard as possible,” Daves said.

Make endcaps the star of your store with these tips.

Rent out your space

At many major retailers, brands pay money for a spot on the end caps. Olay and Revlon might bid on the end cap in Target’s cosmetics section, giving Target extra revenue. Plus, Target still makes money on every product it sells from that end cap.

Daves said, “Small independents could do a collaboration. They could go out to a group of brands and give them that position to rent. We used to do a lot of venture-supported marketing, and that was a way that retailers could use their real estate with that premium spot at the end cap and help with the overhead that goes with owning an operation.”

Don’t discount

You want to move clearance items, so it makes sense to put them on end caps where shoppers will see them. But most retail experts advise against that intuition. “I would not recommend it because it is such a premier spot,” Daves said. “You don’t necessarily want to be known for discounting. You want to be seen as an authority on products themselves.”

Plus, Daves says, putting clearance items in the back of the store forces discount shoppers to pass regularly priced items on the way, tempting them to add more to their cart.

Tailor to your customers

Although Daves advocates learning from other retailers, she emphasized the importance of designing end caps to engage your unique community. “Independents have the benefit of knowing who their customer is and what they are looking for,” she said. “They can be more organic and can have fun with it.” Daves recommended Etsy and Pinterest as good places to find creative inspiration.

Leverage signage

“Our business is very much about signage and display,” Daves said. “I look at Target as being a great role model in the sense that they really make their end caps work through signage and display to get shoppers to look at them and engage with them.”

Daves used older people as an example case for how to use signage functionally. Because they have a harder time bending to see the lower shelves, you can use shelf talkers to call out products, making them easier to find.

Learn from others

Target, Michaels, Barnes and Noble. These are a few of the big names Daves mentioned as exemplars in end cap merchandising. Although you want to tailor end caps to your community, you can glean effective ideas from the national players. “We have to look at what they’re doing,” Daves said. “That can give us inspiration.”

Make products stand out

There’s a famous retail book by Paco Underhill called Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. Daves calls it her bible. In the book, Underhill emphasizes the importance of making products stand out from the crowd. “You want to bring focus to them,” she said, paraphrasing Underhill. “You want to take a purple item and put it in a sea of yellow items, and that purple item will stand out.”

Be flexible

Don’t be static with your endcaps. Pay attention to seasonal and customer trends and quickly adapt. “Think about who’s coming in during your day,” Daves said. “Change the flow of the product that you’re trying to sell towards the flow of the traffic.”

She pointed to airport stores that alter their look and feel depending on the incoming flights. “If there’s high traffic from Japan, they literally change their end caps to attract those travelers coming in.”

Own it

No matter your approach, make it your own. Don’t be afraid to experiment to find what works for you. “Try different things, change the normal format,” she said. “At the end of the day you beat your own drum, which is really fortunate as a small independent. You can ultimately own what you’re doing.”

From the Magazine

This article was published in our quarterly print magazine, which covers relevant topics in greater depth featuring leading experts in the industry. Subscribe to receive the quarterly print issue in your mailbox. All registered independent pharmacies in the U.S. are eligible to receive a free subscription.

More articles from the March 2022 issue:

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