mer·chan·dis·ing
 [mur-chuhn-dahy-zing]
noun 

the planning and promotion of sales by presenting a product to the right market at the proper time, by carrying out organized, skillful advertising, using attractive displays, etc.

Merchandising is the rather unglamorous word to describe what staff in every retail store spends most of their time doing, while hopefully bringing in more sales as a result.  There is no doubt that merchandising successfully is a talent, a daunting task to the unitiated, so here’s a few guidelines to make the task less challenging.


See your store as the customer does

Put down what you are doing. 

Walk out of your shop. 

Now, put on your ‘customer head’. This is (of course) customer eyes, customer ears, yes – even customer nose – but most importantly your customer head must have a customer brain – that is, you must think exactly as a customer.

Walk into your shop – not the way you walk in every morning, but as if it’s the first time you have ever walked into your shop. 

What is the overall feel of the shop? Is it cluttered? Bare? How are the clothes folded?  Do you need to look up or bend over to see the things you’re looking for? 

Go through the buying process – check out the counter, the change rooms, the mirrors. Are they clean?

Leave the shop again now & think about what you see on your way out – more to buy? Or just the back of everything?

Now you know all the things you need to consider to impress a customer, make them come back, or even better, recommend you to their friends.
 

Display Products for their own sake

You may have a wonderful curly jewellery tree that is a true work of art catches everyone’s eye as they walk into the shop, but the problem is that all you are ever asked is if it’s for sale. Nobody will be looking at the earrings – don’t let your visual aids distract from your products. 

Use neutral colours, minimal ornamentation nothing too complex to display your standout pieces to greatest effect. Let your clothes/ accessories/ bicycles/ souvenirs/ whatever do the talking – not the Apex products.

The only exception to  this rule is if your whole store is somewhat minimal in character, it would be an effective option to put your showcase objects in a very special ….well….. showcase!
 

Allow For Different Customer Types

Put displays on different levels – some customers prefer to look at things on a shelf, while others like to sort through hanging items, so make allowance for this. Set shelves and racks at different heights to allow for taller shorter customers (it sounds obvious, but it isn’t) gradually increase the height of your hanging shelving as you move towards the back of the store. 

Make sure as many items as possible are visible from the front of your shop.

Keep a reasonable distance between racks/gondolas to allow for wheelchairs, prams shopping trolleys – aisles should be at least 1.2m wide.
 

Consider Alternatives 

One reason customers remember, recommend, return is because a shop is unique .

Consider displaying your products differently than expected – Drape necklaces over stairways, put shoes on slanting slotwall shelves or in a countertop jewellery display case.

Be creative innovative – encourage people to notice the little things they will probably buy them. After all isn’t that what ‘merchandising’ is all about?

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