You’ve heard the old adage, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Well, this absolutely true for any customer who steps into a retail store. Product presentation is a powerful way to improve the customer experience and increase sales.
Unfortunately, however, too many retailers miss the boat when it comes to effective and engaging retail displays and visual merchandising. Those shelves, racks and display cases in your store don’t just exist to hold stock. They’re some of the key tools to successful retail operations and leveraging them to your maximum benefit is sure to increase sales and improve the way customers feel when they visit your store.
If you’re among the many retailers not getting enough out of their retail displays and merchandising, this post offers up 12 ways to improve the situation. Take stock in them because they will work for your retail stores; they will improve the customer experience; they will help you showcase your products more effectively; and they will very likely lead to added sales.
How New Digital Data Technologies Are Helping Retailers Improve Product Displays
What if before planning the layout of your store or retail environment, you had a crystal-clear understanding of things like sales, inventory, customer behavior, what products are selling, which products are stagnant, when are sales peaking and when are they lagging.
Wouldn’t it be easier to design a great merchandising and display program, if you knew all the variables involved?
This is where new breakthroughs in digital data technologies are having a tremendous impact for brands and retailers. These digital solutions provide real-time insight into key factors that can help optimize shelf space, racks, displays, end caps, even lighting fixtures. For instance, they provide instant insights into
- Sales by product
- Sales by store or region
- Customer behavior/preferences
- Available stock
- Competitive intelligence
- Store appearance/cleanliness
- Current marketing & promotions
- Foot traffic by day period
- And more
If you’d like to learn more about the new wave of software and technology helping to drive more effective retail display and visual merchandising programs, visit www.mobileinsight.com
1. Don’t Think Racks and Display Cases. Think Environment.
One of the most effective ways to sell products is to think of creating product displays as creating immersive and exciting environments. This is particularly a great thought process for stores with different departments – hardware, automotive, electronics, and the like. However, it can work just as well for stores selling one type of product.
The key is to create a shopping experience by marrying merchandise with a little creativity. For example, a store selling coffee makers might turn the display area into a cozy neighborhood coffee shop by adding couches and charming two-top tables. They might even have a barista on hand to pour customers a fresh cup of joe using one of the featured coffee makers. An auto parts store might transform its space into a rustic mechanics garage and incorporate old tires or auto chassis into the display carts.
You don’t need to break the bank to create your design. All it takes is a little imagination and a clear idea of who your customers are and what you want them to feel.
2. Hit Them In The Senses
There’s a reason that despite the growth of online retail, the vast majority of customers still prefer to conduct their transactions in person. What’s the reason?
According to a survey done by Ripen eCommerce that polled 1,235 American shoppers, over 30% said they shop in stores because they want to see or feel the product in person.
Hey, you can’t touch the stuff piled up in your website shopping cart. This is a huge advantage for brick-and-mortar retailers, so use it! Give customer the chance to touch, sample, even play around with your merchandise. If your products are only displayed in boxes, how are you going to connect with customers? Make sure at least a few of these items are openly on display specifically so people can see and use them.
Electronics retailers, like Samsung and Apple, are particularly adept at this method of merchandising. Go into any one of these stores and you’ll find almost every item they stock out of the box and on display. Customers are welcome to touch, turn on and tinker with them to their hearts’ delight, and there’s always a helpful associate nearby to answer questions and offer up product details.
3. Add A Touch Of Mother Nature To Your Retail Displays
Granted, there are times when a sleek and stark retail display is the way to go with merchandising. However, in a lot of cases adding plants and flowers to a retail display adds a sense of warmth and comfort that can dramatically impact the customer’s attitude and purchasing journey.
For example, a clothing store selling beachwear in anticipation of the coming summer months might incorporate palm trees and coconuts into their décor. Perhaps, they surround a cart display with powdery white sand. Maybe they incorporate bougainvillea or other tropical flowers and plants into their retail displays. However, adding plants doesn’t have to be a seasonal thing. Greenery can bring a little Zen to any retail setting and relaxed, de-stressed customers are customers who tend to stick around longer and shop more.
In other words, you’ll be thanking Mother Nature.
4. Remember The First Display They See Is The Outside Of Your Store.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that it’s important to pay attention to the exterior of your store or retail environment, too. While the majority of merchandising is done inside, the real first impression happens outside. If you have store windows, use them to create exciting displays. Make sure signage is clear and compelling. Perhaps, most importantly, always keep the exterior of your store clean and inviting. If it doesn’t look welcoming from the outside, people are likely going to keep walking.
5. Cross Merchandising Leads To Bigger Baskets
One of the most effective ideas retailers have come up with in terms of displays is cross merchandising. This is the art of showcasing complementary products or items that work well together and pairing them on a shared cart or display. This is old hat for most department stores and designer shops. Ever notice the mannequins in these stores? They’re always donned in a perfect ensemble that features different items – blouses, skirts, jackets, accessories, even shoes.
Cross merchandising is by no means limited to fashion, however. Grocery stores often have great examples of cross merchandising. For example, come springtime, you’ll find many grocers with “Barbeque Displays” featuring everything a good backyard cookout requires – charcoal, lighter fluid, folding chairs, new grills, chips, burgers, hotdogs, beer and more.
The goal of cross merchandising is to give customers a subtle reminder that one item they might need or want works even better when paired with other items, and then making it super convenient by putting them all on one display. This, naturally, leads to larger basket sizes and increased revenue.
6. Sometimes It’s Smart To Think Small
Even if you’re working with limited space, there’s still plenty of room to be creative. For instance, displaying items on a cart can be a great visual merchandising technique that maximizes the use of space. You can paint or decorate the cart to create the ambiance you want, and because a cart is portable you’re free to move it should your merchandising needs change.
7. Use Retail Displays To Educate Customers
Some products are pretty self-explanatory. Others, however, can do with a little explanation. Teaching customers about your products can be a function of the retail display. Let’s go back to the electronics example. Most of these stores feature product specifications in their displays so shoppers can compare speed and memory features. They also often incorporate high-definition video displays running content that shows the customer exactly how the products perform and highlights their many features.
But you don’t need to stock technology products to incorporate an educational retail display. Car dealerships to health food stores, retailers in all categories are including important product features, different product uses, and other considerations in their displays to help educate consumers.
8. Great Signage Can Boost Sales
It’s important to remember that messaging and merchandising go hand-in-hand. A big part of most retail displays is the signage attached and, as a general rule, the more creative and compelling you can make it, the better.
It might be incorporating oversized type. It might be using blocks of brash and bold colors. It might be a compelling one-liner. Or, it might be something regal and elegant. Obviously, how your signage should look and feel has a lot to do with what you’re selling and the people buying it.
Above all else, be creative.
9. Maintain Your Fixtures And Overall Store Appearance
A great retail display is only as good as the environment in which it exists. So make sure your entire store, from the lighting fixtures to the sales counters, appears neat, clean and professional. There should never be any damaged displays in plain sight of customers and the rest of your merchandising in the store should be in good order. Few customers will appreciate a cluttered environment and that’s not good for business.
10. Incorporate Retail Technology Into Your Display
New advancements in video and interactive retail technology are opening up all-new possibilities in terms of merchandising and retail displays. Whether it’s using high-definition video to showcase your brand or products in action, like many automotive companies are doing, or incorporating interactive technology like digital kiosks that allow customers to ask questions of a virtual brand ambassador, such as the fitness company Echelon did in a recent partnership with Sam’s Club.
Technology is also being used to extend the sales conversation at the point of sale. For example, customer engagement tools can capture shopper emails so brand reps can extend them special offers and invitations down the road. Even if the sale wasn’t closed on the spot, it’s not lost thanks to retail technology.
11. Be Ready For Seasonal Opportunities.
Each new shopping season is a great time to create fun and spirited retail displays. Get a jump on the year by planning your displays well in advance.
- The Holidays
- Back to School
- Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
- Valentine’s Day
- Mother’s Day
- Father’s Day
There’s always something on the horizon. Be ready and start planning your displays early.
12. Above All, Make It Engaging.
Remember, as a brand or retailer, you only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention. Make your displays compelling and make sure they get the customer’s attention quickly. They need a reason to explore your brand or offer and you won’t get a second chance. Maybe it’s simple. Maybe it’s sensational. But it better turn heads right away.
There you have it – 12 tips to merchandising success and retail display. If you’d like to learn more, particularly about how new technologies can help you create better display and visual merchandising programs, contact the experts at Mobile Insight®.
Mobile Insight® is the only retail and merchandise management solution designed to meet the brick and mortar sales challenges of high-value brands and retailers. Unlike hardware and software providers that focus on fast-moving goods, the Mobile Insight® platform delivers assisted sales solutions for more complex, interactive, and customer-centric environments. Combining data from in-store systems, 3PLs, employee and partner activity, Mobile Insight® enables informed, smarter decisions that drive sales and operations excellence. For more information, visit www.mobileinsight.com.
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