The Today’s Group is employing eye-tracking technology to help create the optimum depot layout for its cash and carries.

As part of a collaborative project with HIM Research & Consulting, 100 retailers wore eye-tracking glasses on a recent visit to a cash and carry, to identify their route around the warehouse and what they noticed visually. The footage is now being analysed before the full results are presented at the group’s annual conference in September.

Speaking at last week’s HIM Wholesale Forum, Todays’ group trading director John Baines said:

“We want to find the perfect depot layout by mission and the key merchandising principles by category, as well as identifying the prime locations for key categories in depot and to understand better how customers shop the depot via their shopping lists.

“We want to help customers get in and out of the depot quickly, but we also them to buy on impulse.”

Also at the event, Blakemore Wholesale managing director James Russell said that ease of shop for time-pressed customers was a key consideration for how modern depots were arranged.

The company has reduced the number of lines stocked from 25,000 to 10,000 in recent years, considerably reducing the sales space in the warehouse as a result. As many as 33% of the company’s customers now use smartphone apps, generating 5% of total sales, he added.

According to the latest research from HIM, the route to market is changing. A decade ago 44% of delivered customers waited for their wholesaler to call them to place an order, whereas now 87% of retailers make their order online.

Loyalty has also declined, as retailers and foodservice operators increasingly shopping around for lower prices. Compared to 2014 there has been an increase of 20% in the number of retailers and foodservice operators setting a budget when purchasing products for their store, with ‘everyday low prices’ preferred by retailers.

However, despite the increased use of technology, 70% of retailers are still writing shopping lists, with just over a fifth of retailers purchasing on impulse when they get to the depot.