Time to Revisit the Merchandising Basics!

Aug 27, 2021

The pandemic undoubtedly created a different type of shopping experience for consumers over the past 18 months, which required retailers to manage through some major disruptions.  Decreases in foot traffic, face-to-face customer engagement, in-store experiences, customer service, and changes in the ways consumers purchased goods were just a few issues that took the “fun” out of retailing.  Retailers also had to quickly shift and cater to a consumer who was focused more on the “basics” across most retail channels, as consumers prepared more meals at home, worked remotely, and suddenly had more time on their hands to complete those home improvement projects that had historically been put off.

However, as the pandemic eases and more consumers gain comfort with visiting stores again, retailers should be mindful of this shift and thus, consider revisiting some of the “merchandising basics” that may have been forgotten, or put on hold, during the pandemic.  While a certain percentage of consumers may continue to favor alternative shopping methods such as online or BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup In Store), we feel there is still a vast majority of consumers that will continue to seek the in-store shopping experience. Therefore, we offer the following ideas on how to continue to engage with consumers to drive sales and increase the overall consumer appeal of your retail store.

Front End Price Pointing – consider low-priced merchandise strategically placed as consumers enter the store.  This concept accomplishes two things.  One, consumers love “deals” and offering items of this nature instantly grab their attention and create some excitement.  Second, displays like these show the consumer that they can “buy” here and that they can afford and maximize their purchasing power.

Identify a “Push” Item each week – identify an item that you would like to sell each week and train your sales associates to push this item to customers either as a primary item or as an add-on item to a related sale.  Have some fun with this among associates and create a contest to see who can sell the most. In short, focusing on push items can create some incremental revenue for your store.

Increase the Customer’s Capacity to Carry More – retailers always want consumer to buy more, and most consumers will not go all the way back to the front of the store to grab a cart.  As such, increase their carrying capacity by strategically locating carts and carry baskets throughout the store to make it more convenient for them to shop and increase the number of items in their basket they bring to the checkout lane.

Understand the Customer Influencers – customers are influenced by light, smell, color, movement, and signage.  As such, make sure you’re incorporating as many elements as you can into your displays and end caps to drive attention and interest to these areas to drive sales.

New Item Signage – new items can bring excitement to a store and be very profitable with the potential deals and incentives provided by the manufacturer.  However, if the customer does not see them or is not made aware of them, the success rate of that new item is extremely low.  New items should “stand out” and be showcased to the consumer to capture the requisite amount of sales and ensure the success rate of that particular item.

Display Basics – product displays are always a great way to drive sales however, there are four critical elements that need to be present to maximize their impact.  First and foremost, think of ways to first grab the attention of the shopper with movement, light, or color.  Second, showcase the capabilities or benefits of the product to pique the interest of shopper.  Third, create a desire for the product by showing how the product could solve a problem, increase productivity, or alleviate a pressure for the consumer.  And finally, inspire an action for the consumer to purchase with adequate pricing and incentives.

Store Flow/Friction – one the biggest “turn offs” for consumers is congested aisles and long lines at the checkout areas, especially during a pandemic when social distancing measures are in place.  As a retailer, you should be cognizant of these facts and should strategically locate displays within the store and schedule labor to align with the peak shopping hours during the week.

Regardless of what your retail store currently sells or the client base that it caters to (e.g., Baby Boomer, millennials, or Gen X, Y, or Z), all customers like to save money, encounter friendly and helpful associates, appreciate a clean store, and love full shelves with no out-of-stock items.  Hitting on these concepts along with the aforementioned merchandising basics should position your retail organization for success.

If you would like more information on how DHW’s Retail Industry Professionals can contribute to the success of your retail organization, please contact Tim Reynolds, Principal, @ 828-322-2070 or tim@dhw.net.