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  • Writer's pictureHeather Petrone

Retail Merchandising Terms Any Newbie Will Need To Know

If you’re new to retail, it wouldn’t be surprising if some of the terms and acronyms you hear sound like Greek to you! POG? Schematic? What the heck is that? Well, actually, those two terms mean the exact same thing! It gets even more confusing when each retailer uses their own terms for their specific chain. To help you with your retail vocabulary, however, Apollo has created this handy merchandising glossary, so we can help get you familiar with terms you’ll hear on your first retail job. Check it out!

Action Alley

The main aisle way that runs around the store. Referred to by location such as back action alley, men’s action alley- the department or part of the store the aisle runs next to. Also known as “Racetrack.”

Aisle Violators

Double-sided graphics stick out from the shelves and direct attention to your products. Also known as Shelf Blades or Aisle Blades.


A collection of information regarding product placement, price, location, etc.

Authorized Product

A product that is authorized to be the retailer store shelf based on negotiations at the corporate level. Products will be included in either the schematic or distribution by set size grid.


Stock located in the backroom. Backstock can also refer to stock that has been pulled from the sales floor during a reset that no longer fits on the shelf but is still included in the planogram.

Bar Code

The UPC number on a piece of merchandise. This number can be used to create a shelf label for ordering purposes. With this number, any information can be obtained, including gross mark-up, sales history, etc. It is also on a shelf label which is scanned to order merchandise.

Blitz Coverage

Customer required reset work that is not defined by an ISE or Homestore program and typically occurs on an ad hoc basis. Blitz coverage refers to a single or small group of categories. I.e. customer X requests that the pet food category be reset by a certain date. The request may or may not include a specific number of people or hours as part of the request.

Brand Blocking

Putting all of one manufacturer’s items together on a shelf.

Clip Strips

A retail product display, so named because it is a length material (either plastic or metal) with clips or hooks at regular intervals, upon which merchandise is hung. The clip strip is then hung off a shelf or end-cap and serves as an impulse buy to a customer wandering the aisles of a store.

Code Date

This is the date that a product should be pulled from the shelves of retailers. Also called the expiration date. Related to OOC and OOD.

Continuity Coverage

Occasionally referred to as “routine coverage” and defined by understanding that it takes place on a regularly scheduled and frequent basis in a defined universe of retail outlets. It describes the traditional service provided by a retail rep in a store to execute client objectives including new item cut in, distribution checks, POS placement, rotation, reporting, and other merchandising activities.

Cross Merchandising

Setting up merchandising of our clients products in locations throughout the store that are not the home location. I.e., placing sun block with camping equipment in a mass store.

Cutting in Product

Refers to “cutting in” new items that are not currently available on the shelves of a retail store. Cutting in is the term used to describe the process of moving items on the shelf to make space for a new item and “cut” it into the shelf.


Incremental case product located on fixtures (side stack, end cap, or knock down display).

Distribution Void (DV)

When a product that is authorized for a retail store is missing from the shelf. Can be an OOS situation. Also, could be a situation where the shelf tag is not located on the shelf. In some retail establishments, no tag means that the item cannot be ordered.


Direct Store Delivery. Merchandise that is stocked/delivered by a vendor rep, not the store.

End Cap

A display area at either the end of a gondola. This can be shelved or pegged merchandise. In some departments this is for the display purposes and some have modularized this space. There are three types of end caps; Front (front of the store facing the register); and Middle (if gondolas are split, the end caps in the middle facing each other)


A common practice to create the look of a perfectly stocked store by pulling all products on shelf to the front, as well as down-stacking all of the canned and stacked items to make it look neat and organized. Facings also refer to the amount of the shelf space a particular product is given.

Front End

The area where the regosters, service desk and C/O tables are. Often refers to the wall of merchandise opposite the registers (high wall).


The primary display feature used in most stores. Consists of a base, a vertical wall and a number of selves that are divided into sections (typically 3 ft or 4ft sections) to which shelving is added. High Profile: a gondola that is 78” or taller. Low Profile: a gondola that is normally 48” or 64” tall.

In Stock

Product is on the shelf.


A category that is found on a gondola in the main body of the store. Also referred to as the regular section, where product the store carries on a regular basis is normally kept.


A physical count of products in the store.

Item Number

The 7-digit number identifying a product. This is located under the bar code on the shelf label. The first 2 digits are always the department number. Each warehouse can have its own item number for a particular item.


Hook (usually mounted on the top shelf) that extends out from the shelf to hang merchandise on.

Not on File (NOF)

A barcode or item number that is not in the system. This can be an old item that has dropped out due to a lengthy period or non-activity or it may mean the produc/ item number is not authorized in that particular store. Often times new items will scan not on file, the UPC clerk can fix this. This will show up NOF on the screen. If you have product, try scanning it instead of using a UPC or item number.

Out of Stock

An out of stock problem exist when the shelf has a distribution label but no product.


An excess of stock that will not fit in a category after items have been stocked. May also be called repack or backstock.


A wooden or molded plastic base that is used to stack merchandise on.


A diagram of a shelf, a section or department in a store showing the number of facings and shelf position for every item or group of products. You may also hear them referred to as schematics.

Point of Sale/ Point of Purchase (POS/POP)

Merchandising materials used to draw consumers attention to a product, such as stands ups, promotional standees, or window clinks. Normally provided by client.

Private Label

Items that are manufactured and sold for a specific chain.

Product Rotation

Refers to the practice of rotating retail products on the shelf so that the oldest product is at the front of the shelf and the newest is in the back. This is done to ensure that older product sells before it passes its code date.


See "Action Alley"


Renovation of an existing retail location.


Reorganizing or rearranging store shelves to meet a new plan.

Scan Coordinator

The individual in the grocery store or mass store who is responsible for creating shelf tags throughput the store. These individuals control the tags that can be placed within a given store.


See plan-o-gram.

Shelf Dangler

This is a small three-dimensional object that can be fastened into a store shelf that advertises our products. It is called a shelf dangler because of the way it hangs out and dangles over a display.

Shelf Height

The distance between two shelves.

Shelf Lip

The front piece on a shelf that extends below the shelf and forms a “lip” in which to install shelf tags, shelf strips, or shelf talkers.

Shelf Signage

Bean flips, danglers, shelf talkers, etc.

Shelf Talkers

Small tags which can be affixed to shelf to point out where our products are located. Triggers that consumer to look in that location for the product.


Items on a shelf with air space between the top of the item and the bottom of the shelf above.

Stock Keeping Unit

A 10-digit number assigned by manufacturers to each individual product. The first 5 digits identify the manufacturer. The last five digits identify the product. SKUs are used to locate items in a warehouse or store.

Surge / Project Coverage

Client requested reset work or special merchandising coverage. This service is typically ad hoc and is requested for a specific purpose with a defined beginning and end date.

Universal Product Code

A 10 or 12-digit code, indicated by a bar code, which communicates to the manufacturer the size and flavor of the item.

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