What Is Merchandising?
Why Does It Matter?
Would You Make A Good Merchandiser?
A Deep Dive Into Retail Merchandising
What is merchandising? Retail merchandising is the discipline of showcasing brands and products within stores, or any retail venue, in ways that optimize the customer journey and drive sales.
More specifically, retail merchandising refers to how specific products appear on store shelves, display setups, endcaps, and in other physical locations inside the store. This might include product signage, promotional displays, shelf talkers, or any other marketing materials. Merchandising also includes deciding which products will be sold in stores; the time of year they’ll be featured; and even how they will be sold. For example, a company might use high-definition video as a POS tool, or, perhaps, create a seasonal display for products, like cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, that have a well-defined seasonality to their sales.
Ask this Retail 4.0 question: What is merchandising without digital data driving it?
The Retail 4.0 answer is far less effective merchandising. The merchandising programs of most top brands and retailers today include advanced software solutions that capture data and analytics that reveal clear customer, sales, store and product insights.
This digital intelligence provides unmatched visibility into the effectiveness of merchandising strategies, allowing management to make more informed and effective decisions in an effort to continually improve store merchandising.
The Importance of Merchandising
Now that we’ve answered the question, ”what is merchandising?” let’s talk about why it’s so critical for a brand or retail business. Merchandising is the unspoken contract you have with customers to make their shopping experience easy and enjoyable. Effective merchandising strategies make the most out of store layout and shelf space, taking customers on a journey that saves them time and brings them clear brand and product options along the way. It’s important to remember that while merchandising is ultimately about increasing product sales, it’s also about building stronger relationships with customers. A store with a quality merchandising program is a pleasure to visit and shop.
From a brand marketing perspective, merchandising presents customers with a clear brand identity. The color of product packaging; how a brand chooses to display its products in stores; the image projected by the look and feel of marketing signage all contribute to how customers perceive the brand. Make sure the perception is consistent across all stores and sales channels, and that it engages customers in a meaningful way, and you’ve got a winning merchandising strategy that’s sure to generate sales.
Field Accuracy and Accountability – Key To Retail Merchandising
If there’s one rule to quality merchandising, it’s to stay on top of things. After all, a successful retail store is visited by a great many people every day. Things are moved. Products are damaged. A display might look great at the beginning of the week, but by week’s end it winds up appearing disheveled and lacking product. This is where great field performance saves the day.
Merchandisers visit stores regularly to report on how well a brand and/or product is being represented. They’re essentially performing a merchandising audit that might answer questions such as:
- Is there adequate product on store shelves or a display?
- Are products correctly placed with the proper spacing and preferred side facing out?
- Do products feature the correct price?
- Is the proper signage in place?
- Is the store clean?
- If there’s a sale or special offer is it properly promoted?
- Is there sufficient product inventory in the backroom?
Not long ago, this was all done using paper audit reports that were subject to numerous errors and hazards – being lost or damaged, or, being completed incorrectly. It was even impossible to guarantee field reps were visiting the correct stores on the right days. Now, however, merchandising compliance is a lot easier thanks to digital software and data solutions, like the one offered by Mobile Insight®.
“Our solution captures real-time store data and answers key performance indicators determined in advance by the client. Everything from store appearance, display compliance, shelf space, pricing, merchandising signage, product appearance and more is instantly entered using a standard mobile device. Even better, we include a real-time photo capture feature to support any findings with full-color evidence. Managers and headquarters are able to pull up data and photos instantly and view the results on customized reports that reveal clear business and merchandising insights. Plus, our patented geo-tracking feature makes sure teams are on schedule and in the right place at the right time,” says Eduardo Santaella, Chief Operating Officer and General Manager of Mobile Insight®. “We give brands and retailers instant insight into their merchandising and sales functions.”
If you’d like to learn more about how retail technology and smart data solutions are driving today’s merchandising strategies, visit www.mobileinsight.com.
So you want to get into merchandising?
What is merchandising in terms of a career opportunity? Suffice it to say, just about every brand and retailer needs people to make sure its product merchandising standards are met, so there is definitely potential for a bright future in merchandising.
The trained experts who perform merchandising functions are called merchandisers. While the specific responsibilities for these positions may vary by job and company, merchandisers are essentially the gatekeepers of a product from the moment it arrives at a store until someone takes it home.
Most often, merchandisers will cover a designated area or region, and be in charge of planning and tracking merchandising strategies in a number of different stores in that territory.
If you found yourself in a merchandising position, your responsibilities would likely include being responsible for product appearance, managing inventory, managing marketing and promotional efforts, training in-store staff on merchandising compliance standards, and finding new ways to improve product and store appearance.
A Typical Merchandising Job Might Include:
- Create and implementing store layout and product display standards.
- Visit numerous stores each day and reporting on merchandising compliance.
- Work with manufacturers and store personnel to ensure proper merchandising execution.
- Compile data on market trends and the merchandising efforts of competing brands or retailers.
- Manage merchandising and inventory on a store-by-store basis.
- Work with advertising agencies and marketing departments to coordinate promotions and sale events.
- Analyze large volumes of sales and market data.
- Refine merchandising strategies based on data to include deciding which products to feature and which to omit.
What is merchandising in terms of being a moneymaker? The fact is, this is a career with a very broad salary range. On the lower end, positions range in pay from about $25,000 to somewhere around $30,000. Higher paying merchandising jobs, however, can bring an income well into the $70,000s and that doesn’t include potential bonuses.
Education and Experience
You might be surprised to learn that most merchandising positions don’t require a college degree (though it certainly can be beneficial). That’s because merchandiser jobs are geared for individuals who have a good deal of retail and marketing experience. In other words, someone with a GED who has also spent years working in retail environments and understands the ins and outs of how the industry works is an ideal candidate for a merchandiser position.
Will you make a good merchandiser?
What follows are a few attributes that every good retail merchandiser possesses, and the ones business leaders will be looking for when you interview to join their merchandising team.
Solid Communications Skills
Merchandising involves working closely with in-store teams, manufacturers, advertising agencies, marketing departments, and management. Being a good communicator is a must – both in person and in writing. You’ll work face-to-face with merchandising team members and partners, which means listening to their concerns and voicing your opinions professionally and confidently. You’ll also be responsible for drafting reports, merchandising plans, and communicating via email, so you’ll need good writing skills, as well.
Think about this way – the sale always comes down to the details. In merchandising that means being on top of both in-store merchandising programs, as well as the market conditions that impact them. What products are selling? What products are not? What stores are performing? What promotions are working? Keeping track means pouring over the details. This where data- driven merchandising solutions can really help!
Cool Under Pressure
Merchandising is dynamic. Things change on a dime and that means being able to think on your feet, stay calm, and make merchandising adjustments swiftly and intelligently. Again, data-driven merchandising is a big advantage.
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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