“You need to see it to believe it!” This phrase is thrown around everywhere. But it’s especially relevant to merchandising. After all, it’s very difficult to sell the idea of a product without showing the product itself.
Remember the Retail Story? It starts with love at first sight. The merchandising story is similar, but it’s all about consistency at every point.
The Merchandising Story: How continuous contact drives the sale
John is an avid hiker. And as such, he is constantly looking for good deals on hiking gear, which never seem to last him that long. John is walking down the street of a small mountain town, glancing in windows. He glimpses a backpack in the window of a small outdoors shop where there is a hiking display with some of his favorite boots, shorts, and hiking poles.
- John enters the store to see everything laid out neatly according to category, where niche activities take their place along the edges, and general apparel find their place in the store’s center.
- Driven by natural instinct to the hiking section, John forgets about the backpack that caught his eye, and moves to the boots. They are all facing the same direction along the wall, arranged by price. The wall is stocked full. In fact, there is not one item in the hiking section that is out of stock.
- Store staff are circulating to ensure that boots, bags, and apparel are facing outwards properly. One staff member stops straightening price tags to offer John assistance, which he gladly takes.
- “Can I get these in an 11?” John asks, holding up a black boot.
- The staff member says “let me check” and heads to the back, which is fully stocked in each size, and has an efficient back office strategy to ensure the best, most desired merchandise is kept in stock.
- The staff member returns with the boots in hand. “These are the lightest boot we have– just under a pound total weight. They’re waterproof too, although I doubt you’ll need it in this drought.”
- John nods along, unboxing the boots. He then ties them, stands up, bounces on the balls of his feet, and smiles. “I’ll take them.”
- At the check-out counter, John sees his favorite chocolate bar at the top of the “impulse buy” rack, which is stocked full with customer favorites. The planogram has been instituted according to customer data.
- John completes his transaction and leaves satisfied with his purchase.
What good merchandising does
Merchandising works with more than just initial impressions– it’s a continuous process that ensures products are displayed neatly (and arranged logically), accurately described, and kept in stock. The KPIs for measuring sales will be skewed against you if you don’t allow your products to stand out, help your customers meet their needs, and maintain store-wide continuity.
Getting the first impression correct is an important facet of merchandising, but the merchandising process is a practice in continuous excellence – from first impressions, to stocking – from new products’ visibility and labeling to employee touch points, it’s a process that takes a lot of work to perfect.
With it, your team can quickly assess these key areas:
- The store’s outside
- Shelf compliance
- Products compliance
- Check-out procedures
- Back office compliance