5 Reasons Why Brick-and-Mortar Retail Will Rule Holiday Shopping This Year

It’s November 11 and many retailers are already in full holiday swing. From the television commercials to a certain popular coffee chain rolling out solid red cups, retailers are looking right past Thanksgiving and on to the holiday season.

One reason retailers are able to transition so quickly from Halloween to the holidays seemingly over night is that technological advancements in campaign planning, merchandising and execution has allowed retailers to complete campaigns in days as opposed to weeks or months.

What’s more, new research from the International Council of Shopping Centers notes that 95% of all holiday shopping will take place in brick-and-mortar stores with top reasons being that they want to try on merchandise before they buy and not pay for shipping costs that can drive ecommerce purchases higher.

With stores able to reset each location with their holiday-focused campaigns faster and the fact that the vast majority of holiday shopping will take place in those stores, brick-and-mortar is poised to have a strong Q4.

Check out our infographic below for the top 5 reasons why brick-and-mortar will rule holiday shopping this year.

Holiday Shopping Trends 2015

visual merchandising for ecommerce

How to Achieve Visual Merchandising Success

Visual merchandising software is a game-changer, because it does away with multiple tabs, Excel spreadsheets, and complicated streams of information and puts all of the information that you need to know in one convenient location.

However, it can be a massive undertaking for any online business to implement. In order to do it well, you need to stay on top of inventory, customer feedback, and various social media channels. All of that up adds up to one thing: time. Many small businesses and ecommerce startups don’t have the resources to properly maintain their online merchandising. That’s all about to change, as long as you get the right assistance with the implementation.

Visual Merchandising execution in ecommerce

For those of you who’ve just launched your ecommerce website or are in the process of making changes, you’ve probably figured out that online visual merchandising is a long-term game. It’s not enough to simply create a site and throw a few items up for sale. Successful online merchandising requires constant management, inventory upkeep, creative know-how, and an eye for design. Let’s delve a little deeper and take a look at how you can take your eCommerce site to the next level and increase conversion rates in 2015.

Successful online merchandising starts with getting your customers’ attention. It can be tricky choosing which items to put front and center. If your business is known for a particular product, try placing something else on the homepage. Shoppers respond to items that they want, not things that they already need. New items and fresh creations make great headliners. You should also showcase some of your most luxurious products upfront. Products with bright contrasting colors will catch their eye. Remember to rotate your promotional products at least every month or so. Frequent shoppers will want to see something new when they click on your site.

When it comes to listing products, keep underperforming items at the top. You can put surplus items next to more popular products. Items that are nearly sold out should be placed at the bottom. No one wants to get an “Out of Stock” message on the first item they see. Try mixing up colors on your product page. Put vibrant, contrasting items next to more neutral pieces. You should also group certain products together if they fall under the same category. This makes your ecommerce site easier to navigate and more user-friendly.

This article has been contributed by Smart Merchandiser , who is helping businesses take control of their ecommerce websites. They create an easy-to-use interface that replicates the look and functionality of your ecommerce site, one that also tracks inventory, abandonment rates, conversation rates, views, and customer satisfaction. Increase your ecommerce team’s productivity with merchandising software. Work smarter, not harder.

Storefront, Harrod's London, Visual Merchandising

Window Displays from Around the World

Window shopping is a favorite past-time of both casual and professional shoppers alike. Nothing beats walking down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and staring at the myriad of merchandised windows.

That is all fine and good if you happen to live in Manhattan, or have a vacation planned soon, but what if you wanted to check out stores in various cities across the globe, all from the comfort of your laptop?

Storefront, Christian Dior, New York
Christian Dior, New York

Enter Shop Windows of the World, a site that allows you to do just that. Using what we believe is Google Street View, this site allows the user to check out a wide range of retail stores in a randomized fashion using their singular “Take Me Somewhere New” button.

The site works well and has some interesting stores showcased and although there were more repeat stores appearing than we had liked, all in all it was great to see how some well-known brands are represented globally.

You can start your window shopping experience at

Storefront, Tim Horton's Dubai, Visual Merchandising
Tim Horton’s, Dubai
Storefront, I Love NYC Gifts, New York
I Love NYC Gifts, New York
Storefront, Hermes Paris, Visual Merchandising
Hermes, Paris
Storefront, Schuh, London, Visual Merchandising
Schuh, London

VIDEO: RBM Technologies and SAP talk about future of mobile retail at Mobile World Congress

RBM Technologies’ strategic partnership with SAP brings leading cloud technology to the telco and wireless retail industry over the past 10 years. RBM’s solutions with visual merchandising, planogram automation, precise merchandise assortment execution and mobile in-store compliance solutions are featured SAP’s booth at Mobile World Congress this week. SAP and RBM Technologies’ Dan Wittner speak on the future of mobile retail and personalizing the customer experience.

3 Reasons why third party merchandisers need an in-store execution software solution

Many retailers today outsource their field execution team in order to place product and visual merchandising elements within their stores. While outsourcing is convenient for most retailers, retailers have very little visibility into if and how promotions are being executed within their stores. In a recent post by business2community, explains why third party merchandisers need to be equipped with mobile merchandising in-store execution and compliance software:

1. Optimized Audits:

While many field teams perform continuous merchandising audits, for third party merchandisers this is a critical exercise that evaluates core activities. Clients want to have peace of mind that the party they hired to merchandise their product is doing so correctly. That means proper shelf level, facings, and stock. Without a system of accountability, it can be difficult for managers to ensure that these actions are being performed correctly and be able to show tangible proof to clients. Though this process can be done on paper, managers often have to re-enter the data manually for clients, which leads to errors and increased overhead work.

By leveraging a Field Activity Management or In-store Merchandising Execution and Compliance software, third party merchandising field reps will be able to use their mobile devices to perform audits. By creating forms in the back-office, managers can give custom instructions to reps in the field, which can be very beneficial if your reps are handling fragile products like plants or glass. The geo-tagged photo feature offered by these types of tools will enable reps to share photos of merchandised products with each other and with managers. And because this information is available in the Cloud, managers can export it any time into organizational tools like Excel, eliminating the need for re-entry and lowering the rate of data errors.


2. Informed Client Visits:

A growing number of third party merchandising businesses means that if your field team isn’t providing great service, it will be easy for your client to find a new partner. This doesn’t only mean being educated when meeting with new clients, it also means being flexible when your current clients change procedures. If your reps have client crossover, it is crucial that reps confer with co-workers on client information. Without a streamlined system of communication, the message can be lost.

When clients change procedure or add new responsibilities, they expect that each rep who services them will know about the changes. Having to explain the same thing to the same business many times will frustrate your client. When reps are able to use messaging features with mobile solutions like Field Activity Management software, they can easily open up any and all notes left by previous reps about each client. That way, reps will always be informed about client preferences and expectations going into each visit.

3. Maximized Territories:

Competitive third party merchandising field reps have a set of unique responsibilities that differ from teams that merchandise their own product. Since the core goal of these reps is to push forward brands, they often perform additional duties like conducting market surveys, training in-store staff, and planning promotional events. Since the business is paid by clients to perform these special activities, it is crucial that each appointment is made on time. When managers have to manually assign reps to locations, it is easy for one appointment to be lost in the stack of paperwork or list of emails. If that happens, the client could miss out on a huge promotion and the retailer is inconvenienced, having set time aside to meet with a rep.

To ensure that all client and retail appointments are kept and that reps are prompt, third party merchandising businesses should use a tool that manages territories. Field Activity Management software tools enables back-office managers to view their reps in the field on one screen, allowing them to know where each team member is at any given time. They can see when reps check in at locations and when their projects are completed. This will raise the level of accountability, and give more flexibility when solving a territory mistake. For example, if you see that there was a scheduled appointment at 9am, and at 8:45 no one is on their way, you can easily find out who the closest rep is who can cover the problem. That way, your clients will never know there was a problem to begin with.

Serving by Simplifying

It is imperative that third party merchandising field reps provide excellent customer service through continuous merchandising reviews, educated client visits, and effective territory management. While all these strategies can be done on paper, it is much more efficient and effective for field teams to be able to perform them via a mobile software solution. Leveraging  i will optimize audits, ease co-worker communication, and help map out territories, launching your third party merchandisers into success.

How Retailers Get Order from Chaos: Planograms

Post from Core77

Consider how broad industrial design is as a field: Maybe you designed the product that sits on a store shelf. Maybe you designed the box that the product sits in. Or heck, maybe you designed the actual shelves.

If you’ve done any of these things for a major retail client, you’re probably familiar with what are called plan-o-grams, or POGs, or visual merchandising, or “shelf schematics,” or whatever fancy jargon your client used for it. Plan-o-grams are that often un-fun but necessary breed of design work handed down by marketing gnomes, who emerge from their caves with The Data, sacred market-researched algorithms on “shelf presence.” It’s essentially a diagram of what object needs to go where in a retail display, with the ultimate goal of drawing customers into the store, increasing sales and “reinforcing brand.” This eye-grabbing grid can be seen through the window and will draw the customer inside. Put this sparkly gewgaw at eye level so the consumer will spot it. Place these floor-demo items and waist level so the consumer will want to pick them up and touch them. Splash it with the company colors.

Back when I was on active duty, we designers had little to zero input on where individual items went, but were the ones tasked with graphically laying the diagrams out for printouts that were later given to the frontline retail employees. Sometimes late at night if you walk past, say, a closed Banana Republic or a Modell’s, through the window you can see staffers setting up new displays and consulting binders filled with the latest diagrams.RBM_technologies_planogram_merchandising

These days there are specific software programs for marketers to lay out plan-o-grams on their own, and depending on what the product is a less-enlightened company might cut designers out of the process altogether.

3 Ways for Field Teams to Optimize Merchandising Audits

Merchandising audits provide regular checkups on retailers to ensure stores are carrying out merchandising objectives as directed by headquarters. In a article by, gives field teams recommendations on items to look our for while they are on the field:

See the tips below from the article:

1. Taking Stock

Numerous studies show that out-of-stock (OOS) instances and product voids bring down sales and hurt brand image. Some businesses have reported an administrative overhead cost of $800 a week due to OOS instances. From the moment a rep begins confusingly looking for missing product to the moment a back-office manager puts the phone down after an angry conversation with a retailer, precious time is being wasted.

So how do you lower the chances of out-of-stock instances and refocus that time on sales? Field Activity Management software tools offer back-office managers a solution: customized forms. Field reps can easily pull up forms on their mobile phone that will require them to input the current amount of in-store and backup stock. This allows managers visibility across all their territories, so they can identify recurring problems and prevent them before they happen again. Additionally, since the forms can be tailored to each location, reps will always know exactly what products are meant to be in each store.

2. Location Scouting

The location of your product on the shelf is important to consider during a merchandising audit. While eye-level placement has proven to be effective, a deeper look into competitor placement could be a huge advantage for your business. This is especially important to the beverage industry, where 42% of producers said product placement data was one of their core areas of analysis. Your reps should first ensure that the retailer has placed your product at the agreed location. In addition, they should gather information about competing brands’ placements.

The geo-tagged photo feature offered by many Field Activity Management software tools will allow managers to see exactly what their field teams are seeing in the store. With the customized forms, reps will also be able to offer managers cold hard numbers on how much stock competitors have at each location. This kind of visibility is invaluable to emerging small and medium sized businesses.

3. Promotion Checkups

One way for new businesses to gain a customer base is through special promotions and sales. This could be anything from a “buy 1, get one 1 free” strategy to bulk discounts. The effective use of these promotions is directly correlated to higher sales. If your business is paying extra for promotional materials like banners, floor stickers, or cardboard cutouts, it is crucial that they are seen by the customer. If your retailer agreed to these requests and is not living up to them, it may be time for a renegotiation.

The sales analysis function of Field Activity Management software tools empowers back-office managers to do a number of things. First, they can see the disparity of well-merchandised locations against poorly merchandised locations. Second, they can use this data as a strong incentive for retailers to live up to their agreements. Third, the overall reporting on promotions will allow managers to see what campaigns are performing well and which are not.

The Importance of Focus

By leveraging Field Activity Management software, field teams can turn their focus to core business areas like stock checks, product placement, and retailer agreement.  Rather than blindly sending reps to “check things out” around retail locations, make sure their merchandising audits are thorough and that they produce value. Following these steps will place your business one step ahead of competitors.

Finally, there are Visual Merchandising Tools to ensure in-store compliance of products and POP. These Visual Merchandising Tools can be used by store staff to view updated planograms and communicate compliance back to headquarters through photo compliance. These tools provide an increase sales and reduce costs.

Fastest Growing Trend in Supermarkets : Glass Door Merchandising

It’s no secret merchandising produce is not an easy task, the cost that is associated with keeping fruit, vegetables, dressings and dip staying fresh continues to haunt retailers. Utilities constitute a large amount of supermarket expenses and refrigeration is one of the top components of a store’s utility bill. With supermarkets making very little margin on products cost control is important.

Displaying food products in open-top refrigerated cases are quickly coming to an end though, thanks to a new fixture trend making its way into produce departments. Glass door refrigerated display cases are being installed by many retailers as a better way to merchandise items in the produce department. Ideally, glass door cases can help retailers keep their energy costs in check.


Here are some of the basic benefits of glass door merchandising from The Produce News:

Visual impact

There is a dramatic product presentation that immediately captures a customer’s attention. The impact of seeing a line of glass door units with produce stocked from top to bottom as a solid wall is very impressive. Shelf after shelf of produce is facing the customers and motivates explosive sales.

Additional space

The vertical height of the cases opens up supplemental space to stock product with better inventory control. This allows for more item variety and choices for the shoppers.

Energy saving

One of the largest portions of supermarket expenses is related to energy. Installing the glass door units in the produce department can result in as much as a 70 percent reduction in energy costs.

Shrink control

The addition of the doors on these units contains refrigeration and maintains the proper temperatures, allowing the product longer shelf life. For this reason, there is a 20 percent reduction in shrink experienced by the produce department on items displayed in the cases. Bagged salads experience up to 30 percent less shrink.

Less maintenance

Refrigeration compressors experience much less wear, resulting in fewer service calls and replacement parts.

Jeff Tomassetti, produce director for Buehler’s Fresh Foods in Wooster, OH, said, “We love the look and the efficiency [of glass door refrigerated cases]. Customers are really shopping the door units. Juice, vegan and salads look great behind doors. We definitely have seen less shrink in bagged salads and organics.”

Doug Weikert, produce supervisor and buyer for Coborn’s Inc. in St. Cloud, MN, added, “Coborn’s believes glass door merchandising is the wave of the future. We have 30 percent of all produce departments now and moving to 50 percent in the immediate future with the exception of misted products. There is energy savings with less cooling costs in cases. No reduction in sales where glass door merchandising has been installed and no dehydration issues with produce. Less overall shrink.”

One of the challenges for retailers at this point is getting over the merchandising hurdles. Many are still in the experimental and learning stages of trying different ways in which to put the entire layout design in place. Most packaged items are there, but bulk produce still requires resolving.

The key to merchandising with glass door cases is using the proper types of equipment racks for each product category. There are shelf sets, POD sets and vertical sets of shelving equipment for the glass door merchandising units.

Carlson-Airflo, based in Brooklyn Park, MN, has innovative solutions for customized equipment racks designed to enhance merchandising profiles, especially for bulk produce. Check its website at for more information.

The future is here and now. New trends continue to rise up in the produce industry. We must recognize these changes and move on them quickly in order to help raise the bar on produce industry growth.

Walgreens Boston Store redesign

What to Look for When Performing Visual Merchandising Audits

Merchandising audits provide regular checkups on retailers to ensure stores are carrying out merchandising objectives as directed by headquarters. In a article by, there are two basic categories of visual merchandising audits: shelf audits and seasonal/promotional audits. Shelf audits ensure planogram and pricing compliance while seasonal/promotional audits ensure that special promotion items are displayed and priced correctly. When performing shelf audits, there are several things the field rep should look for:

See the tips below from the article:

  1. In-Store Location: Is the product in the correct part of the store, as agreed upon with the retailer? This location should have been set during initial negotiations, so make sure that your products are in the right place.

  1. Shelf Position: Take note of the adjacent products. Knowing where your product is in relation to other products gives you a better idea of what type of marketing to use to compete with these neighboring brands.

  1. Facings: Studies have shown that a doubling of facings leads to a 20% increase in sales. You can choose to purchase more facings for your brand, but you should carefully weigh the cost of these extra facings with the projected increase in sales before making a decision.

  1. Product Holes: Are there open spaces on the shelf where your product should be? Check if those products are out of stock or if the retailer hasn’t restocked the shelf yet and the products are still in the back. Be proactive to ensure that these product holes are taken care of.

  1. Out of Stock: This is one of the most important things your field rep should be looking for while auditing. OOS causes major issues for distributors and retailers alike, and can result in a loss of up to of $75,000. It is vital to keep an eye on the availability of your products in order to prevent OOS, and audits can help you collect data to better predict and prevent OOS.

Retail Localization and Profitability

Seasonal and/or promotional audits:

  1. In-store Signage: In any promotion, awareness is the initial phase. It is important that customers know about the sale. If you paid for in-store signage, then you should make sure that it is optimally placed and is broadcasting the sale to the majority of customers.

  1. Special Ads and Displays: Once customers are aware of the sale, they should know where in the store to find the products, as well as what products are part of the sale. Displays are important especially at the point-of-purchase because they play a large part in consumer purchasing decisions.

  1. Seasonal/Promotional Pricing and Labels: If there is a disparity between what your sales promotions claim and what the pricing labels say, customers will not only be confused, but upset as well. This can result in lost sales if not quickly fixed.

  1. Employee Knowledge: This is perhaps the hardest aspect to measure but is important during promotions, as customers will typically ask the salesperson more specific questions. Therefore the employees can help boost your sales or cause you a loss in sales, depending on the extent of their knowledge.

Finally, there are Visual Merchandising Tools to ensure in-store compliance of products and POP. These Visual Merchandising Tools can be used by store staff to view updated planograms and communicate compliance back to headquarters through photo compliance. These tools provide an increase sales and reduce costs.

How To Push Your Stores Visual Element In The Digital Age

Whether you’re a visual merchandiser, or a small store owner – the visual element of your store is all important. Over the last few years we’ve all seen the impact that digital media can have on the retail marketplace, with everyone having to find new ways to compete with online prices and promotions, as well as fast deliveries and new innovations. In this article we’ll explore how stores can push their visual advantage over online stores in the digital age.

There’s nothing more powerful than a shopfront, and a strong identity and atmosphere inside a retail location. Some websites spend millions trying to make their online presence work just as well (just ask Selfridges who just spent $65m on their new website!). However, an online experience can never quite match that of a real retail one.

campaign compliance is low, retail localization

But, how can you make the most of the digital age. Well, for starters you do need a website to go with your shop – that goes pretty much without dispute. All stores, no matter how small should have some form of website where users can check out products, get more information and ideally shop. This shouldn’t be seen as an entirely different entity, it should be used as an extension of your brand image. As such, your merchandising team should be heavily involved from a visual perspective throughout any web builds and on an ongoing basis to re-merchandise the website.

In 2015, there is going to be an even bigger focus on the digital element within stores. Marks & Spencer in the UK are a great example. They’ve integrated giant mobile phone style touchscreens that allow users to browse stock, order, and share products digitally from within the store. Ideas like this make an impression on shoppers, and tie the digital and real life experiences together in a neat way.

Likewise, capturing details of your shoppers is key. It’s all very well having a hashtag strategy that goes across all of your visuals, but you need a way of capturing potential customer data to keep them in your digital funnel after they leave the retail experience. There’s a number of ways to do that, from hashtag and social tracking, to offering freebies or offers on branded USB sticks for instance from the likes of USBmakers to enable you to give the customers something in exchange for their data. With a digital giveaway you are able to preload and give bonus content on the stick – for example your new brochure or sale items list!

Think big in 2015. Digital and online are not a passing trend, or even a new innovation now. It’s time to get serious with taking your stores visuals online, and to recreate your store experience in other environments. Also think about how you can enhance your store through digital technology. For example, wearable tech is going to be huge this coming year – what can you do in store that fits your brand but makes you stand out even more?

About the Author:

Joshua Crawford is a freelance writer specializing in business and marketing matters. Josh has worked in a number of in-house marketing positions, and is now sharing his viewpoint with the world through his freelance writing business.