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Navigate The Supermarket Like A Boss

Understanding the inner workings of your favorite grocery is the key to shopping expertise
by Chise Alcantara | Jul 18, 2017
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Maybe you’re already a supermarket expert but haven’t realized it yet.

But all those times you’ve tailed your mom, then your girl, through the aisles of the neighborhood grocery may have given you a practical compass on how best to move across the retail floor. And as you begin to go full hipster on eating well and eating right, the supermarket has become your new go-to place for scoring fresh produce.

Well, good for you—we’re in that phase, too. So let us help you understand better how supermarkets work so you can count yourself as one of the true experts of the fresh food scene.

1. Sale, sale, sale

Expiry and ‘best before’ dates are a big part of why certain items go on sale. “At our company, being competitive price-wise is our number one priority so we always have something on-sale every day,"explains April Mae Serafica, sales associate of an international supermarket chain. "Most of these items are the ones that will be expiring in six months or less, or for perishable goods, a week or less. These items are also usually stocked at places that are close to the checkout counter or near the entrances to be the most vis- ible products to the shoppers.”

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2. The Shelf Life

Ever wondered why certain brands get into some supermarkets and some don’t? “The lineup of brands come from some sort of bidding where manufacturers buy their place on the shelves,” Serafica says. Their placement on the shelves, however, is based on the discretion of the supermarket and there isn’t anything like a “premium spot” depending on how much you bid. Most supermarkets just consider what’s most convenient for the customer so they place items considering how difficult it would be for the customer to reach them. For example, placing heavier items at the bottom for safety purposes.

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3. Loving your own store brands

Have you ever come across items that are extremely cheap, and arguably have cheap-looking packaging? We’re sure you have, because “approximately a quarter of the products in our supermarket are under our store brand,” admits Serafica. As tacky as their packaging looks like, these aren’t all bad because they’re literally just the “generic” brand. “Products sold in supermarkets have to go through a health test where they have to disclose how they made their product and some specific items lose their patent after a few years. The supermarket then imitates these products and sells them as their own brand after a few years.”


4. Are wholesales worth it?

After several attempts at talking your girl into buying that years-worth supply of Cheetos because of how much of a bargain it was, we’re finally here to burst your bubble. “Unless it was specified by the packaging, our wholesale prices are exactly the same as what you would pay for individual items. They aren’t in any way special and have been pre-packed by the manufacturer before we get them. From my own experience, I’ve noticed that most pre-packaged wholesale products tend to have expiry dates that are sooner by another six months to a year and a half tops when compared with individually packaged products,” says Serafica.

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5. Your best route for optimum grocery experience

It’s better to think of what you’re going to buy by relation. “We usually place related products next to each other so that customers would have an easier time looking for things they might need for a certain situation. Like, we place our health food and organic stuff beside each other, our chips and soda together for parties, as well as eggs, bread, and rice as essentials,” explains Serafica.

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6. Score the most premium meats and freshest produce

Coming in early guarantees that you’ll get to buy quality produce. “We have overnight stockers
on departments like produce and meat that resupply our selections with fresh products as soon as these sections are emptying,” says Serafica. Though it is also important to watch for mid-day restocking because sometimes, especially during sale days, products can go pretty fast that “our associates replenish stocks during the midday. Of course, the largest portion of fresh batches are put away into their places overnight since no customers equals more work done,” explains Serafica.

7.Get the best 'Best Before's'

Don’t ever feel judged by your fellow shoppers even when half your body is already in the freezer trying to reach for that perfect item because at the back is where the best stuff usually ends up. “Stores are very particular in making sure that their shelves always look stocked-up and full. What ends up at the endcap (the front row items) are usually the oldest because the store is trying to sell them before they have to go to the sale aisle. The newest items are placed in the back and move forward as soon as the old ones get sold,” says Serafica. 

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