Tesco is trialling a new system to improve availability on its key products at peak trading times.

Two new PoS labels have been introduced to flag up high-priority products to staff during the afternoon replenishment. The first, Best Seller, is used to flag up the 250 food and non-food items that shift the highest volumes across Tesco’s estate. The other new label reads Sales to Capacity. It is used to flag up products with limited shelf space, but which sell particularly fast – often faster than they can be restocked.

“The intention behind the scheme is to improve availability, especially in the evenings,” said a Tesco spokesman. “Our availability is already very high, but this initiative is to make it better in the evening rush.”

The labels are already being used in 61 stores, though Tesco said it was too early to comment on whether they had improved availability. The scheme will be rolled out if successful.

The Grocer 33 measures availability from a consumer perspective every week using mystery shoppers. If customers find a gap on shelf, the customer is instructed to ask a member of staff to see if it’s in stock. By this measure, Tesco is currently ranked fourth of the five retailers, with a score of 96.35% availability. Fifth-placed Asda is close behind with 96.26%, while Sainsbury's has the strongest availability with 98.09% of its items in stock.

Last week Storecheck’s Colin Harper said it was critical that availability measures focus on peak trading times, such as Friday evening to Sunday, when supermarkets receive about 70% of their trade.

“This is definitely a good idea,” he said. “It’s always tempting to do the big things, but this is simple and will help store managers. Managers have to track about 5,000 lines, not all of which are equal.

“Some really matter to customers, others don’t, and you’d need to be a genius to get that spot on. But anything that helps them identify the key gaps and out of stocks will be of benefit.”