Building an End Cap


How do you create an effective end cap? Here are a few tips.

1. An end cap is promotional, so you should refresh it at least once per month.
2. Pick your theme first, like “Heart Health Month” for February.
3. Use a visual design concept based on the theme, such as pink hearts, to increase “wow” factor.
4. Less is more. Select fewer products, and stock them deeper than usual.
5. Sample the products to drive impulse purchases.

There are lots of healthy theme ideas for every month of the year. Because February is Heart Health Month and Valentine’s Day, deciding on a visual theme is easy: large pink or red hearts cut out from decorative art paper and suspended from the ceiling above each end cap. As with any promotional display, less is more. It’s better to stock fewer items deep and wide, with multiple facings, than to have many items thinly stocked.

For product ideas, head to your supplier sales catalogs to see what’s on deal this month. In just the last year or so, several new studies have found heart-health benefits for supplements including CoQ10, L-carnitine, lycopene, magnesium, multivitamins, omega-3s, Pycnogenol, quercetin, selenium and vitamin D, and for foods such as chocolate, fiber, potassium-rich fruits and vegetables; particularly apricots, bananas, oranges, tomatoes, and most legumes, antioxidant-rich green leafy vegetables and olive oil. If you carry both foods and supplements, you can create maximum shopper impact with one or more end caps dedicated to each category, at the head of your main gondola aisles.

Keep in mind that the biggest impact from running a sale is usually two to three weeks. After this, your promotion runs out of steam, and shoppers are ready for something new.

Don’t worry if you haven’t yet done any planning for February. You’ve probably got a couple of order deadlines today and tomorrow that you can use to stock up on heart-healthy deals. Go for it!

For best impact, use a full shelf or shelves for each item. The more shelves you use for the same item, the greater the color “banner” effect on the eye, and the farther away your display will register on shoppers, drawing them towards it. Adjust your shelves so that you eliminate excess air space between the top of the product and the shelf above. Another trick: use empty cases on the base deck to take up the first several vertical feet, so you need less product to make your display look full.

Supercharge the excitement by adding a sampling or tasting. Even if you don’t have a lot of fresh foods, chocolate has near-universal appeal. Remember to pull a few pieces out of your display, so that it doesn’t look untouchable, like a museum installation. Creating uneven facings adds to the feeling that products are moving, and creates a bandwagon effect in the minds of shoppers.

Most of all, talk about the products, and have fun! If you’d like more information on the new studies I mentioned, please feel free to contact me anytime. WF

Jay Jacobowitz is president and founder of Retail Insights®, a professional consulting service for natural products retailers established in 1998, and creator of Natural Insights for Well Being®, a comprehensive marketing service designed especially for independent natural products retailers. With 35 years of wholesale and retail industry experience, Jay has assisted in developing over 900 successful natural products retail stores in the U.S. and abroad. Jay is a popular author, educator, and speaker, and is the merchandising editor of WholeFoods Magazine, for which he writes Merchandising Insights and Tip of the Month. Jay also serves the Natural Products Association in several capacities. Jay will appear at NPA Southwest Healthfest, April 13-15 in Irving, TX. He can be reached at (800)328-0855 or via e-mail at

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, February 2012