Top tips for store merchandising


A well thought out merchandising plan always pays dividends in terms of sales results.  Craig Phillipson, Managing Director of retail consultancy, Shopworks, gives his four top tips for successful merchandising.

1.  Merchandise with your customer in mind

Any merchandising plan will only be successful if you are able to satisfy your customer's primary shopping mission.  The first step, therefore, is to understand why your customer shops in your store.  Does she shop for separates or a complete outfit?  Is she looking for casual wear or something for a special occasion?  And are there specific categories she tends to focus on?  Create a clear pathway through store and use signage or bold displays to highlight the products she is looking for. 

The next step then is to identify your customer's ‘decision tree', i.e. how she shops in any given category.  Is design or price the main driver to making a purchase?  And at what stage does she consider other factors, such as colour and size?  Use your customer's decision tree to lead your visual merchandising; segment your product range accordingly.  For example, if you know that your customer buys jeans primarily on the basis style, ensure that your jeans are displayed first and foremost by style.  A power wall of jeans showing the full range of styles creates maximum impact and speeds up your customer's decision making process.  Colour, size and any other factors can follow.

2.  Maximise the potential for cross selling

Successful merchandising also expands your customer's shopping mission and exposes her to other products within the store.  Inspire your customer with new ideas by displaying entire outfits complete with shoes and jewellery.  Or use logical adjacencies to increase the sale of accessories, for instance by placing sun hats next to summer dresses or a relevant collection of belts next to jeans.

3.  Allocate space with care

In retail, the term ‘critical mass' relates to stock density and the point at which a product is displayed with enough authority to sell.  This means, for example, that a display of 10 scarves may sell very quickly, but the same scarves in a display of just two may not sell at all.  Maintaining visual impact is essential but this does not necessarily mean increasing the amount of available space to display your product.  A display of 30 scarves may not increase sales further.  Learn to recognise the optimum level of stock for a particular product.

4.  Be proud of your best seller

Display your top seller with the best place in store.  Don't make the mistake of putting a slow seller in the top location in the hope of increasing sales.  Any increase in sales will be small in comparison to the results you could have achieved with your best seller.

And if you've been busy promoting your best seller through your window display or a press campaign, make sure the product can be quickly found in store.  If your customer cannot easily find what she is looking for, there is a real risk she will walk back out again, empty handed.

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