A well thought out merchandising plan always pays dividends in terms of sales results.
As the shopping journey transitions online, visual merchandising is becoming increasingly important for brick-and-mortar stores looking to compete in a digital world. Visual merchandising allows retailers to set themselves apart from their online counterparts, whether that be via customer service, product placement or in-store design. Additionally, recent reports repeatedly show that shoppers still prefer the in-store experience, giving retailers a chance to increase sales through visual marketing.
Craig Phillipson, Managing Director of Shopworks, gives his four tips for successful merchandising.
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, therefore, is to understand why your customer shops in your store. If you are a clothing store for example, do they shop for separates or a complete outfit? Are they looking for casual wear or something for a special occasion? Are there specific categories they tend to focus on? Create a clear pathway through the store and use signage or bold displays to highlight the products they are looking for.
The next step is to identify your customer’s ‘decision tree’ i.e. how they shop in any given category. Is design or price the main driver to making a purchase? And at what stage do they 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 of style, ensure 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.
Successful merchandising also expands your customer’s shopping mission and exposes them to other products within the store. Grouping together complementary items that are similar in nature can lead to more purchases by customers. There are a few ways retailers can group products together. For example, retailers can consider grouping products together that have a natural relation to one another. Heavy coats and winter boots, for instance, go together, and may get customers thinking about what else they need to buy before they head to the checkout.
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.
Retailers can also group items together based on research. These items upon initial glance may have nothing to do with each other, but may often be purchased together. For example, retailers may place patio furniture with grills for barbecuing. Upon initial glance, these items may not be related. However, if data backs up that these two items are often purchased together, pairing them could lead to an increase in sales.
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. For example, 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.
Organisation is critical when it comes to displaying products, whether it’s by price point, height or critical mass. Organisation is also the key to happy customers, as well as making that final sale. Consider using lighting to emphasise key products and creating paths for your consumers to follow.
Be proud of your best seller
Display your top selling product with pride…in 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 product.
And if you’ve been busy promoting your best seller through your window display or social media campaign, make sure the product can be quickly found in store. If your customer cannot easily find what they are looking for, there is a real risk they will walk back out again, empty handed.
At the end of the day, you ultimately want to deliver a satisfying buying experience to everyone who walks through the door. It isn’t just about making the sale, but ensuring that the journey to get there is as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible.