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High-Low Supermarkets : 5 Unconventional Strategies to Boost Your Bottom Line

It's no secret that the grocery landscape is evolving rapidly. National supermarkets and big-box retailers are expanding, while online grocery shopping is gaining traction. So, how can you, as an independent high-low supermarket owner, not only survive but thrive in this competitive environment? The answer might lie in embracing new technologies and sharpening your business practices.

1. Attack Shrink.  Attack Shrink.  Attack Shrink.

Shrink is a major drain on supermarket profits. When Walmart, with its massive resources, considers shrink reduction its top priority, you know it is time to get focused here. Take a page from Walmart’s playbook and implement rigorous inventory control measures. Regularly audit your stock, train your staff on loss prevention, and consider investing in technology like security cameras and inventory tracking systems. Every dollar saved from shrink is a dollar added to your bottom line.  A good system to explore for end-to-end shrink management is a platform like Kansas-based GOT Systems.

2. Align Your Ad Week with Your Financial Week

This might seem like a minor detail, but misalignment between your ad week and financial week can create unnecessary confusion and make it difficult to track the effectiveness of your promotions. Ensure that your ad week and financial week coincide. This will give you a clearer picture of how your promotional efforts are impacting your bottom line, allowing you to make data-driven decisions and refine your marketing strategies.  Supermarket specialist accountancy FMS can help you navigate this switch.

3. Harness the Power of AI to Predict Gross Margins

Artificial intelligence (AI) isn't just for tech giants anymore. AI-powered supermarket tools are becoming more accessible and affordable for independent grocers. One of the most valuable applications is using AI to forecast gross margins on promotions before they even happen. By analyzing historical sales data, market trends, and competitor pricing, AI can help you make informed decisions about which promotions will yield the highest profits. This eliminates the guesswork and lets you focus on strategies that genuinely move the needle.  A tool like Puzl offers powerful AI to help supermarkets manage gross margins in advance.

4. Shift Your Focus to Absolute Dollar Gross

High-Low Supermarkets

Many grocers get caught up in the idea of achieving a certain percentage of gross margin. While margins are important, remember that you bank dollars, not percentages. In 2024, a profitable high-low grocery store prioritizes absolute dollar gross. This means maximizing the total dollar amount of profit you make, even if it means adjusting your margins on certain items. Don't be afraid to experiment with pricing strategies to find the sweet spot that drives both sales volume and overall profitability.

5. Make Private-Label Products Your Secret Weapon

Private-label products, often poorly segmented by independents, are becoming the primary focus of the big national players. Independents often miss how having a powerful private label strategy can be a game-changer for high-low grocery stores. By differentiating private label products from branded ones with distinct and aggressive pricing, you can drive more consumers to these high-margin items and improve your competitiveness and customer loyalty at the same time. Start with a few key categories and gradually expand your private-label offerings as you gain confidence and customer acceptance.


In the fast-paced and competitive world of grocery retail, independent high-low stores need to be agile and innovative. By leveraging AI, prioritizing absolute dollar gross, tackling shrink, embracing private-label products, and aligning your ad and financial weeks, you can position your store for success in 2024 and beyond. Remember, it's not just about surviving; it's about thriving in the face of challenges.

About Puzl

Puzl is an AI-based gross margin manager helping independent grocers and C-stores understand their fully blended gross margins up to 12 weeks in advance and then providing a toolkit to help them profit from this visibility. For more information contact us at

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