Everyone has seen retail strips in stores, commonly used in corner stores, drug stores and grocery outlets or retail centers. They maximize space usage, free up footprint acreage on shelves, and provide ready access for products either for personnel behind a counter or for customers in shopping aisles. But how do these simplistic plastic tools enhance retail so much? In a word, capacity. Retail strips allow vendors and retailers to take advantage of the vertical space every physical building has, whether on walls or shelves. And by doing so, it adds additional room and capacity to sell more products. That in turn creates more sales, more revenue and, ultimately, more income.
The value of retail strips is not a new one. Trying to use vertical space for product selling has been around for centuries since the first vendor opened his or her physical shop in a building and stored product on shelves versus just on the floor or booth at ground level. However, the modern retail center or store, while a far cry from those early huts, are still plagued with the same program: there is only so much physical space available to sell products. Grocery stores, in particular, they are extremely sensitive to space use because there is so much product and limited space to sell it all.
Probably the most functional retail strip tool was the Clip Strip, invented back in 1980 by one Edward Spitaletta. At the time, it was just a very basic form of fashioned flat plastic sheet, but many times simplicity is what wins the day. In short, the tool provided a retailed the ability to take advantage of a vertical wall, whether it was behind the shelf or on a bare wall, to not only add more product availability but to make it very visible as well. No surprise, many smaller stores and crowded grocery stores took up the idea immediately. Today, folks still see clip strips in regular use at gas station market stores, corner stores, small family grocery stores and more. Additionally, the tool is not limited to just the food retail industry. It works for any product packaging that can essentially be suspected by hanging.
The original clip strip was a very basic design; it generally anchored to the wall and hung down. Then the vendor attached various units of the products being sold to the clip strip hooks, keeping the product in place suspended but easily removable as needed as well. As product units were sold, they could be replaced with new stock changed with other items that could hook and hang the same way. However, as the value of the tool grew, so did the demand to be able to suspend far more different types of products. Heavier products were a particular need that couldn’t be handled by the original plastic clip strips. So, the variety of options grew as well. Both plastic and metal clip strips are available now, easily able to hold up heavier product units without issue.
An additional aspect involves clip strips that can be placed in a free-standing mode, an advantage of selling vertical again where there might not be a wall per se but plenty of space to sell product otherwise lost via conventional shelving. Utilizing special stand equipment, these free-standing clip strip designs help maximize floor space where there might not be vertical structures per se, such as open floor facilities.
Some of the biggest retailers today rely on clip strips on a regular basis. While a good amount of retail selling has definitely moved to e-commerce online, there is still a traditional demand for physical products, particularly in the consumable goods markets. Where a product has to be bought on a regular basis to meet people’s needs daily or weekly, no one wants to wait 3 to 5 days for it to be shipped only to find things broken or spoiled. Instead, they want the convenience of physical shopping for a personal schedule that day. So, retail stores have the opportunity with clip strips to meet such needs actively and conveniently.
Is physical retail going to wane over the next decade? Probably not. That impact would have already occurred in the 2000s with e-commerce had it really become a replacement gamechanger, even despite today’s kerfuffle over Web 3.0. For durable stock and large items, there is more traction in the digital world, especially given the price point differences. However, for regular retail, people still value the convenience of physical shopping over the supposed value of doorstep delivery, especially in areas and neighborhoods where “porch pirates” are common and a recurring problem. As a result, retailers would be mistaken to assume that they are going to move less inventory. In fact, people are consolidating trips and wanting to find more of what they are looking for at the same location, driving up demand to carry more products.
As a result of the above, retail strips will continue to be an essential product placement tool, especially for businesses with a lot of visual placement, walkthrough consumer traffic, and physical consumable goods to be sold. The computer hasn’t replaced everything, and it is clear that also won’t happen anytime soon either. In the meantime, Clip Strips work effectively and continue to support bottom line net income stability for retailers.