You are here: Home - Retailers Blog - Facing & Blocking in Retail Stores

Retailer Blog

Facing & Blocking in Retail Stores

I drive a 1991 Toyota Celica that I purchased two years ago for $700. The car is so old that it doesn’t even have a cup holder and needs about every part on it to be replaced. However one thing that the car does have, is fantastic gas mileage, at about 25MPG I can go one or two weeks before having to stop at a gas station for a refill.

Last week I had to make a trip to Southern Vermont that required taking a more rural route than I am generally used to. Because I rarely need to fill my tank I didn’t think to check my gauge before leaving for the trip, about 30 minutes later my gas light came on alerting me to find a gas station. By the time I found a convenience store I knew that I was running on fumes and was in desperate need of gas. After I filled up I walked into the store hoping to find something to snack on for the remainder of the trip. I didn’t really know what I wanted, just something to fill my stomach. As I walked the few aisles I found myself having to duck my head down in order to peer underneath the sparsely stocked shelves. Now call me lazy, but after about the third time ducking down I gave up on trying to find something, grabbed a soda from the cooler and just headed on my merry way.

Empty Store Shelves that Need to be faced (Facing)What resulted was a lost sale for the store and an empty stomach for me. Now had I really been hungry I may have taken the time to look through everything they had to offer, however I wasn’t looking for food. I was looking for convenience. That is after all the point of a convenience store, to offer products conveniently for their customers, and then make a profit off that convenience.

So the question becomes, what could that store have done in order to have made my wallet lighter? To answer that, lets look at what I did buy. A soda from the cooler. This soda was placed in the cooler and dispensed via a slotted and gravity fed rack. Meaning that that the soda was push all the way to the front of the shelf where I did not have to look for it, did not have to reach for it and could compare it to the similar products to its left and right. The cooler gave me options in which I was able to choose what best suited my needs. This is unlike the shelves where the products were hidden, hard to find and where I had to go out of my way to see what was available.

So what is “facing”?

Had this store moved its merchandise to the front-most part of their shelves making it visible it would have been more convenient for me, and other shoppers like me. This process is commonly referred to as “facing”, but can also be referred to as blocking, zoning, conditioning and / or recovery. It is a common practice among retailers of all types to create the illusion of a perfectly stocked store, regardless of whether they are or not. In addition to appearing fully stocked, by placing the products on the front of the shelves it makes it convenient for shoppers to locate items, compare them to the similar products in the same area and then purchase those products.

Properly faced shelves are a result of good facing practicesIn addition to ensuring that the product is visible, another important aspect of facing is making sure that the product is placed in the right location. Often times while people shop they will grab one or more items, walk around a little bit before deciding to get a different item and then place the first item down wherever they happen to be. By doing a sweep of the store you can quickly keep products where they belong, lending to the organization that is required for a convenient shopping experience.

Facing is a vital aspect of any retail store, but is especially important to companies that specialize in providing a convenience service. This simple practice allows your customers to quickly identify items that they wish to purchase, and significantly increase impulse buying.

Take the facing challenge

Spend 1 week continually ensuring that you store shelves are faced correctly and let us know the results in the comments section bellow.

Want more information about retail facing?

Facing Definition

Advanced Facing Techniques



  1. Justin Braver June 14, 2013 at 10:55 am · Reply

    Great article! Blocking and facing is critical to good store conditions which, as you correctly point out, directly affects the customers mental state, strongly influencing their appetite to spend (or not spend). Naturally, this can have a profound impact on sales in either direction.

    A former grocer, I developed a helpful hand-held tool, The Blocking Wand, to assist stores with their blocking and facing duties. You can learn more and purchase the Blocking Wand at the website:

    Using the BW enables store workers to block and face more efficiently and thoroughly than by using hands alone. Safety is also improved by ergonomic work motion and reduced use of stepping stools, which are a trip-and-fall hazard when brought onto the sales floor. I am very proud to say that Whole Foods, Price Chopper, Ace Hardware, Yankee Company, and many other companies and independent retailers are now using the BW in the US, Canada and beyond. Please contact me with any questions or comments, hope I can be of service your store(s) too!

Leave a Reply

Back to top