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Visual Merchandising: 10 Insights How To Merchandise Your Store

[Merchandising and display are covered more extensively in my new book, The Retail Doctor's Guide to Growing Your Business (Wiley & Sons.) You can download a free chapter at the end of this post.]

1. Change your displays monthly . Holidays and seasons only last so long, and promotional goods have a short shelf life. Feature new arrivals first.

If you ordered merchandise meant to go together, keep it together. You don’t want its first appearance to be diluted. Later, the few items that may be left can be grouped with new arrivals to give them a new look.

If you ordered red Valentine candles from one vendor, mugs from another, and teas form another, wait for them all to arrive. Don’t put the candles out first as a sole item and lose the potential add-on-sale.

2. Show off the wants. Don’t choose to highlight products the customer already needs ; those are what they are coming in for. A customer responds to things they want.

For example, don’t display the cheap hand mixer when the fancy KitchenAid is what every Emeril wannabe desires. Just because they need a mixer, doesn’t mean they won’t treat themselves to the expensive model if it is displayed well.

3. Look for one thing that makes a group . All of one product works well in a grocery store, but it is little more than warehousing the items in a retail store. Arrange by product use – all items related to brewing and drinking tea, for example. Or display by color — the strongest color combinations to attract attention in retail are red, white, and black.

Try related or contrasting colors. Our eyes quickly get the point and move on, so never make a monochromatic display.

4. Start closest to the door. Start with the display area closest to the front door and put your newest and most expensive items in the spotlight. Be sure to have several levels of height and enough products so that the customer can pick up and touch without having to totally dismantle your display.

5. Pig in the window. Find a totally unrelated item and put it in your display . It serves as a prop, its only purpose to grab your customer’s attention. Add a stuffed toy pig to complete your Kitchenaid display. It is not necessary to add a prop to every display, but the idea should always be there.

The display in the picture shows the green bottles as the pig in the window. They make the customer ask themselves, “Why is that there?” They are intrigued and come in to learn more.

6. Showtime. Light your display like it’s important. Adjust overheard lighting. If you have particularly dark display with no way to highlight it from above, consider moving it to an existing light source or light form below with small spot lights. Remember, light makes the merchandise pop.

7. Put words to it. Add a few well-placed, well-worded signs . Make sure they are short and easy to read. If your customers are mostly seniors, make it easy on them by using larger fonts. Handwritten signs with markers are okay for a kid’s lemonade stand, but anywhere else they tend to look amateurish.

Don’t ever put up a sign that says DO NOT TOUCH. You might as well put up a sign that says DO NOT BUY. Displays are supposed to get messed up.

8. Rotate them. Move existing displays around in the store when new merchandise comes in. Since the fairly new products will still be selling, switch your displays two weeks after their arrival. Move one from the front to the middle of the store and the other from the middle to the back.

9. Track it. Monitor your computer printouts and inventory levels weekly . If something really takes off, be prepared to reorder immediately. If you have sold through your inventory and you have no back stock, change your visual merchandising plan to something you have plenty of.

If something doesn’t sell, try moving the same display to another location before giving up on it.

10. Tag it. Make sure all of your stock is priced . No one wants to have to ask how much something is.

These are by no means all the ways to make your displays your silent salesperson but they form a foundation that any retailer or small business can use to bump sales.

Like what you read? You can download the introduction and first chapter of the book here.

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Posted by Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor on December 9, 2010.

This entry was posted in Retail Sales and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “Visual Merchandising: 10 Insights How To Merchandise Your Store”

  1. I love suggestion number 5! It’s novel and the idea of catching the potential shopper off guard is brilliant.

    I’m thinking of a grocery end-cap display I saw today. Can after can of Campbell’s soup. I was thinking the retailer should have broken up the cans with some nice pots and pans and ladles hanging from the rack.And, maybe bags of Goldfish for the soup. Not as disruptive as a pig, but at-shelf suggestion of a nice warm meal on a cold winter day is the same idea. I’d love to get retailers and manufacturers to think like this more often!

    Looking forward to reading your book!

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  3. E. King says:

    How does #5 reconcile with my favorite of your rules: Don’t make me think?

    • bobphibbs says:

      Excellent question E! Because when everything does all go together, our eyes quickly “get it.” Not as fast as say an end cap filled with blue notebooks but when you add a pig in the window -a completely uncategorically out of place item, it makes the customer stop and say to the person next to them, “What’s with the pig?” In a toy store, it would be something totally unexpected and not found in a toy store. Try it, it works especially well in store windows with a lot of foot traffic but can also work in a high profile display inside the store.