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What is an Endcap?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 16, 2024
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In the retail marketing world, location is everything. One of the most popular display areas for merchandise in a grocery or department store is the hub at the end of an aisle, also known as the endcap. This is highly visible from the popular perimeter shopping areas, and each aisle section contains four. Competition for the right to display products on an endcap can be very fierce, especially among beverage and snack food companies.

An endcap usually contains items which have a higher profit margin, such as carbonated sodas, savory snack foods and seasonal offerings. Quite often it will be stocked with a small supply of items available in a neighboring aisle. The hope is that a customer will visit the regular aisle if a particular flavor or size is no longer available at the endcap. In this way, the display serves as a teaser for the larger assortment of products in the aisles. Even if a customer has no need to venture down a particular aisle, the convenience factor of grabbing a beverage or snack at the endcap has its own appeal.

The endcap is a valuable piece of real estate in any store's layout, so vendors are often willing to pay a premium for the privilege. The display often contains special promotional materials and a prominent sign which appears to promote a discounted or promotional price. Since the product displayed in an endcap may be situated far away from similar products, the customer may easily assume the price is a relative bargain.

For shoppers who shop primarily around the perimeter of the store for essential groceries, the endcaps often provide a temptation to move into the processed food-laden aisles. This is one reason why some shoppers end up paying $45 for what should have been a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk. The proximity of the endcap to the main traffic area encourages impulse shopping, even if the shopper is merely traveling from the back of the store to the cash register.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick , Writer
As a frequent contributor to SmartCapitalMind, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Discussion Comments

By anon264552 — On Apr 28, 2012

End caps are a form of trade promotion (along with channel discounts, allowances, slotting fees, and cooperative advertising).

One often hears "why can't more brands use word-of-mouth only, and not all that icky marketing?" Shelf space is relatively scarce, and for better or worse, the critical success factors for consumer packaged goods are inclusion in the consideration set and ready availability. No CPG is as differentiated as its marketers fondly wish they were. If one doesn't like the game, one needs to play something else.

By hyrax53 — On Jan 31, 2011

Endcaps get more and more eye catching, and probably more and more expensive to reserve for product placement, during holidays. From the Christmas season to even one-off days like the super bowl, stores love to remind you what you ought to be buying to keep up with the status quo. At least, that's how I feel when I am reminded once again that I should buy tortilla chips and cheese dip, or huge amounts of chocolate, to remember whatever the current season is.

By vogueknit17 — On Jan 28, 2011

I've noticed many of the grocery stores I have frequented regularly in different parts of the United States have a tendency to feature "deals" on their endcaps that are not deals at all; they make the signs look like you are getting more than usual for a better price, when a calculation of the unit price actually shows quite the opposite.

Michael Pollick

Michael Pollick


As a frequent contributor to SmartCapitalMind, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
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