There is a fairly straightforward strategy to shelving and displaying products. The basic rule of thumb is to shelve complimentary products together. For instance, put oil, oil filters, oil filter wrenches and funnels close together. Products can be grouped on displays vertically or horizontally. The method you choose will depend on which products you want to place at the customer’s eye level and what looks most aesthetically pleasing. Successful retailers often employ both techniques on a single display.

Product Display

  • Keep smaller or bestselling items at the top of the display
  • Larger items should be placed at the bottom of a display
  • Consider arranging like items from lightest to darkest
  • Try to keep the height or products in a pleasing order

It may help you organize your store if you think about your products as being in one of two different categories: Core products—these are the products that your business is built around and that everyone needs, such as car care and maintenance items. Lifestyle products—these are the additional products that are wonderful to have, but not necessary to your business such as travel mugs, t-shirts and keychains.
Each of these categories is merchandized differently and shouldn’t be mixed together in your store. The core products should be easy to find and displayed in a straightforward manner. Lifestyle products are items that you are trying to entice people to buy. These items should be dressed up more and made to look more attractive to your customer. Place these items in spots reserved for impulse purchases or use them to draw customers into your store.
Keep all product displays in order and looking fully stocked. This means having someone regularly walk the aisles, and ideally restock sold product or at least straighten and pull product forward so it looks like a full display.

Here are some other tips to keep customers engaged and your space profitable:


Each display should have a sense of balance. Sometimes shelving the largest to smallest (or vice versa) doesn’t look right. In these instances try putting the tallest product in the center with height descending or ascending to the right.

  • Avoid putting too many bulky items next to one another.
  • Put large, bulky items on the bottom shelves to ground the display.
  • Place the largest item in the display first, then surround it with products of similar size and density.
  • Use consistent shelf/fixture heights.


Color can add depth, focus and interest. Supplier or seasonal POP displays can add visual interest. A product line with bold branding can become a focal point.

Placement Height

Place unpackaged or sample product at eye level (generally considered to be 5’3”) with the actual packaged product right below it.
The same eye-level placement goes for your most profitable products and product information signage as well.


Color can add depth, focus and interest. Supplier or seasonal POP displays can add visual interest. A product line with bold branding can become a focal point.


Use wider shelving and longer pegs to stock more items that move quickly. A vertical rather than horizontal display will allow your customer to see a better variety of products at one time.

Left to Right

People are naturally predisposed to “reading” left to right. So it’s natural to stock your shelves that way too. The order could be smallest to largest, or oriented for quality/pricing as good, better, best.