Whether you love merchandising or think it’s a pain, as a retailer, it’s a requirement.
Most store owners and experts agree merchandising, at its core, is a blend of art and science. Those who get it right know how to walk that fine line.
At the recent 2012 Las Vegas Market, merchandising was a hot topic. Here are some of the takeaway tips.
*Look at the first 500 feet of your store. This is where you should introduce customers to pricing, including any advertisements you’ve placed or specials you’re running. The front is also where customers are introduced to the tone of your shop, said Bob Moorman, a business analyst and senior consultant for JRM Sales & Management, a consultancy for retailers.
*Ensure a positive emotional response. If you elicit an emotional response from people, Moorman said, price often becomes secondary or not as important as it was when they set out to shop.
"People like to go to stores we love," Moorman said.
Patricia Norins, publisher of Gift Shop Magazine, agreed.
She suggests creating those fuzzy feelings by incorporating unusual displays that help tell your product line’s story. Norins gave the example of a New York City-based Converse store that used its shoe boxes to create a wall-sized American flag. The shoe display attracted consumers who wanted to see the art piece, but also helped increase sales.
"There’s a direct impact to your bottom line," Norins said.
*Group similar products together. Moorman said that by putting like with like shows customers how to use your products and encourages them to purchase more items.
He calls this "selling people a concept of something, rather than just things."
"By default, your average sales should go up," Moorman said.
By creating a clear-cut story about your store and showing people what’s new, your sales should increase because people get excited about new items.
"It’s really important that the message is clear," Moorman said.
Norins said many retailers make the same mistakes because they’re too focused on the art of merchandising, or the science of it, and they’re not combining the two aspects. Common mistakes include having too much clutter, which can look like product isn’t moving off the shelves.
Also, some store owners place items flat on tables and patrons can’t see them. How will they know to buy them that way?
*Switch things around in the store periodically. People like variety, Norins said.
If a product isn’t selling, don’t be afraid to discount it and get it out of your store. Think of that item as a box of cash just sitting there.
Also, Moorman said don’t be afraid to be flexible if you find that something in your original business model isn’t working.
"If something isn’t working for you, nothing’s sacred. Make the change," Moorman said.
Norins suggested using community resources such as local artists or design schools to help create displays. Also, think about adding color in unexpected places within your store, which can add dimension. Look at the ceiling or outdoor sidewalks as potential canvases.
Finally, Norins suggested maintaining a visual merchandising idea book, so if you see something that sparks an idea, you won’t forget.
[via Las Vegas Business Press]