Retail Merchandising Tips

For a retailer, merchandising is probably the second most crucial success ingredient after location, and one that you can really work to your advantage. It is also fun and a great way to learn about consumer buying patterns. Here are a few tips you might enjoy.

  1. Vision. The first step is to determine the image and vision for the store, and the personality your are trying to convey.  Think of all the ways you can make the store click into that image. Consider all five senses and what each should be doing when customers are in your store.
  2. Outside signage. Outside signage should be clear, bright and unique. Make sure people can tell what your store offers at a quick glance. Signage should be positioned where people can see it easily from all traffic directions.
  3. Inside signage. Inside signage needs to show people where things are. This can be done with words, photography, or art, but make sure people are not confused or frustrated when trying to find things in your store.
  4. Hours. Post business hours and stick to them, whatever they are. You could even ask shoppers if they would prefer longer or different shopping hours, and keep track of the results to help fine-tune your schedule.
  5. Traffic teaser. If you can think of something interesting to position outside your door or in your window to draw people in, then do it. Even something as simple as blowing a wonderful scent out your door is a great way to attract traffic. Also consider music, or flowers!
  6. Maneuverability. Try walking through your store carrying a couple large bags of goods or pushing a baby stroller. If you feel like you might break something, consider rearranging the store to make aisles wider for parents, the disabled, or even those of a more generous girth. You could also ask a school-aged child whether he or she can find or reach things in the store, just to see how well your shorter patrons are able to navigate your store.
  7. Neighbourly critique. Have you ever considered asking your neighbouring retailers to critique your merchandising? You might be surprised at their ideas. Most businesspeople are happy to give critical feedback, but are hesitant to do so without first being asked.
  8. Seasonal synchronizing. Take advantage of every season. Your store should be a continually changing heraldry of life. Keep it fun with ever changing displays, merchandise, and more.
  9. Minimize SALE signs.  Discount and sales items should be kept at the back of the store, where there can be a regular clearing area for out-of-season merchandise. Keep the front of the store reserved for current, new and exciting merchandise. While a modest window-teaser is fine, if you always have a SALE sign out front, it will appear as though you are always in a state of financial urgency.  The effect is that you will train your customers to wait for the sale.
  10. Work with your lighting.  Lighting is probably one of the most important elements to getting your items seen and noticed.   A wholesale lighting client of ours who provides lighting to countless retailers once explained that retailers assumed the architect would be good at the lighting.  This is not always the case – ask your lighting professional.  They do nothing but lighting, and know just the colour, brightness and energy efficiency to give your store the most attractive glow.

While the above tips should give you a few good starting ideas, we strongly encourage you to experiment, shoot pictures of your displays, and keep date records of  the photos.  That way, you can work backwards and correlate good sales weeks with the displays that corresponded to them.  After all, retail merchandising is more of an art than a science, but using a scientific approach of tracking your results will certainly help you become infinitely better.