Merchandising Tips: How To Get The Most Out Of Product Placement and Displays.
Visual merchandising is changing as fast as the retail industry itself. Brands, retailers and store owners, here’s what you need to know to keep up.
For whatever reason, merchandising is one of those operational and management areas where retail businesses seem to fall short. Too many retail stores fail to make the most of visual merchandising, which happens to be one of the greatest opportunities to improve the customer experience, effectively market products and brands, drive impulse purchases, and, ultimately, boost sales.
Visual merchandisers are on the front line of customer engagement. Their work keeps customers in the store longer and makes the shopping journey more convenient, compelling and enjoyable. Done right, the end result is a store that moves more product, turns a greater profit, and is positioned to succeed as retail continues to evolve.
This blog will provide some visual merchandising tips and best practices to help your brand or retail business capitalize on merchandising opportunities. First, however, let’s define merchandising.
What is retail merchandising?
Retail merchandising or visual merchandising is the art of displaying the different products within a store in a way that optimizes the customer journey and leads to larger basket sizes and increased sales. Every store is different. However, the one thing they must all do in order to drive sales and win repeat business is offer the right merchandise in a store environment that customers find easy, convenient and enjoyable. This is the key role of visual merchandisers.
Retail merchandising tips
A store is like a puzzle. Effective merchandising is how the many pieces (or products) fit together to create a complete shopping experience that works for customers. For instance, smart merchandising makes it easy for customers to find the items on their shopping lists. It helps brands and store owners promote specific products. It makes sure store shelves remain stocked with inventory and sales are never lost because product is left in the backroom. It makes sure products are faced correctly, priced right and placed in the right store real estate. Effective merchandising features products in creative ways that stand out, get noticed and drive sales.
How you accomplish this depends in large part on store size and configuration, as well as the type and number of retail products you sell. However, there are some visual merchandising tips that are universal to all types of retail stores. What follows are a few tips that just might help improve your merchandising.
Remember the “Rule of Three”
This oldy but goodie is built around the principle that grouping products in threes lends a desirable symmetry to a merchandising display. A product that stands alone, unless it is something completely out of the ordinary, can easily be overlooked. Following the rule of three, however, tends to generate more balanced and eye-catching visual merchandising. It might be a collection of three different products by a single brand or manufacturer. Or, your display might include three different companies each offering their own version of a similar product. Always be sure to organize displays in creative ways – stagger box sizes, create color schemes, use exciting signage so that customers just can’t pass it by.
Use your imagination to cross merchandise complimentary products
Cross merchandising is another way of displaying products in a shared space. This approach, however, groups complementary merchandise together in a way that entices customers to purchase all the items during a single store visit.
Fashion brands and retailers, as well as your neighborhood big-box stores, are outstanding at this form of visual merchandising. We’ve all gone into a designer shop to find mannequins dressed in those perfect outfits – shirt, skirt, handbag, sunglasses, you name it. This is cross merchandising. The hope is that customers see how well the different pieces work together and are so impressed they buy the complete ensemble – all the products.
Another good example of cross merchandising is that back-to-school display in your favorite big-box store. You’ll find every item a kid needs in the classroom from a wide variety of different brands – backpacks, pencils, pens, binders, notebooks – all in one convenient location that gently reminds Mom and Dad not to forget a thing.
One of our favorite tips to cross merchandising products is to incorporate an offer or discount into the equation. For example, buy Product A and save a certain percentage of the perfect products to go with it – Items B and C.
The key to cross merchandising is grouping and marketing products that clearly and easily go together. Do this and you’re sure to increase retail sales.
Think of visual merchandising as a sensory experience
Because it’s called visual merchandising, we tend to focus on what the customer sees in the store. But exceptional merchandising also takes into account what the customer feels when exploring the store. After all, the biggest advantage to brick-and-mortar stores is that they can provide the sensory experience lacking with online retail. Here are some non-visual components to consider when creating your retail merchandising strategy.
Music – The right song or the right beat can help create a mood that resonates with customers. Is it upbeat and exciting? Chill and relaxing? Creative and inspiring? Use sound to help accentuate your visual merchandising.
Touch – Go ahead and allow customers to experience the products in your store. Whether it’s the latest mobile device or a new pair of shoes, one reason customers came into a physical retail store is to get their hands products.
Scent – Whether it’s the relaxing aroma of a scented candle or the home-spun smell of fresh-baked cookies, appealing to a shopper’s sense of smell can influence buying behavior.
Taste – If you’re selling food or beverages, allowing customers to sample them in-store can be a big sales advantage.
Say more with great store signage
Make store signage work hard to support your merchandising program. Eye-catching signs can guide customers to feature displays and products. They can be used to highlight seasonal retail merchandising efforts. They can showcase low prices and special discounts. They can help tell a story about a brand and its products. A few signage tips worth remembering:
- Be clear and concise. Say what you need to say in a few words.
- Incorporate photography or graphic imagery for added impact.
- Be sure colors and language work with brand standards and store design.
- Have fun when you can. Customers appreciate creativity.
Create visual hierarchy
You don’t want every product to own the same eye-level in your store. Instead, place products and displays at varying heights and different angles to create a more eye-catching environment. It makes sense to showcase larger and heavier items on the floor, while lighter and easy-to-grasp merchandise can be placed on the top shelf or hanging from a rack where customers can safely reach them.
The goal is to create a visually stimulating environment that invites the eye to explore something worthwhile at every turn. A good rule of thumb is to reserve eye-level for your biggest sellers and build around these products with creative merchandising from the ground up.
Keep retail merchandising fresh
Relax, this doesn’t mean you have to drop everything and make dramatic display changes every week. However, customers do like stores to look and feel exciting and new. A few minor display tweaks can show regular customers that your store is making the effort. Maybe it’s changing up your window displays every month. It could be adding a few new signs to the store, perhaps, switching up the graphics now and again. The point is, you don’t have to go crazy. Just make a little extra effort to give shoppers something new to look forward to in your store.
Use new retail and data technologies to improve visual merchandising
Technology is driving tremendous advancements in the retail industry and visual merchandising programs are no exception. A new wave of software and digital data solutions are providing brands and retailers with far deeper insights across their operations than ever before possible, including marketing, customer engagement, and, of course, visual merchandising strategies.
Specifically, new intelligent data solutions, such as the one offered by Mobile Insight®, a leading provider of retail management technology, are giving brands and retailers real-time data that tells them exactly what’s working, where performance is lacking, and where improvements need to be made.
“Mobile Insight® provides visual merchandisers with the actionable and accurate information they need to make more informed merchandising and marketing decisions,” says Eduardo Santaella, General Manager and Chief Operating Officer of Mobile Insight®. “Our software captures real-time data in areas critical to effective visual merchandising, like store conditions, display appearance, product appearance, pricing, sales by store or region, promotions, competitive intelligence, and a lot more. Our solution captures data that is uniquely relevant to the success of our clients, reports it in real time, makes it available on any mobile device or computer, and distills it all into powerful insights that enable better merchandising programs.”
If you’d like to learn more about how retail technology is being used by top brands and retailers to build stronger merchandising programs and boost sales, explore solutions atwww.mobileInsight.com.
Also, be sure to check out otherblog posts that delve into retail technology and best practices, and how to make them work for you.
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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