Business

What is Merchandising? Draw in Customers with These 4 Tips

Create eye-catching displays that engage shoppers, make shopping easier, and encourage add-on purchases.
Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo

Author: Cassie Scott

Have you heard of merchandising? Whether you have or not, you’re probably using its techniques to attract customers. But how effective are your in-store merchandising efforts? Are they boosting sales?

First, let’s clarify: merchandising is everything you do to promote your products to potential customers, and then sell your products once those customers enter the store. Some examples of merchandising activities include display techniques, free samples, on-the-spot demonstrations, special offers or pricing, and other point-of-sales methods.

Nancy Wagner, author of “How Does Merchandising Affect Buying,” said effective merchandising engages shoppers, makes shopping easier, shapes shopping behavior, and encourages add-on purchases.

Further, Shopify Inc. gives retailers this advice: “The sales process often starts with the eyes, so merchandising typically involves presenting products in a visually favorable light, to try and encourage purchases.”

To capitalize on all that advice, and more, use these four tips to spark more purchases.

1. Keep your shop clean.


Be sure to clean your floors and aisles, dust your shelves and products, neatly stack or hang your merchandise, allow for easy floor navigation and create a welcoming environment. A clean store is a happy store, and a happy store has happy customers. Photo Credit: Havana Outdoors.

A clean store is a happy store. And a happy store means happy customers. They might come to your shop for a new bow, lessons or replacement arrows, but if they’re breathing dusty air, stepping over floor clutter, or maneuvering around boxes in your aisles, they might overlook what you’re selling. If that happens, they’ll likely take their business elsewhere. To impress customers, clean your floors and aisles, dust your shelves and products, and neatly stack or hang your merchandise. A clean, easily navigated floor creates a welcoming environment.

2. Organize your products, shelves and store.


Displays focused on one item that’s surrounded by related items inspire customers to buy the products as a group or collection, which increases sales. Using a theme to tie together products is also a good idea. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo.

No one wants to find field points is Aisle 2 and then search for nocks and not find them until Aisle 10. They’re both arrow components, so stock them in the same aisle. Organize your products and store in logical, thoughtful patterns. Merchandising makes shopping easier.

Merchandising’s basic principles include stocking shelves, placing items label-out, and making inventory look attractive and ready to buy, said Ruth Altman, author of “The Impact of Visual Merchandising on Sales.”

Wagner recommends retailers group similar products together to complement or connect each other through well-organized inventory. Displays focused on one item surrounded by related items inspire customers to buy the products as a group or collection, which increases sales. Also use themes to tie related products together.

3. Create visually appealing displays.


Create well-lighted displays that tell a story. Include signage and display products so they look appealing from all angles. Displays should be relevant to your audience and updated regularly to reflect the time of year. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo.

Window displays attract shoppers, while in-store displays — such as end-caps or racks near the check-out counter — highlight products and encourage impulse sales. Use displays to spotlight new, best-selling or unique products. Create well-lighted displays that tell a story. Include signage and display products so they look appealing from all angles. Displays should be relevant to your audience and updated to reflect the season or time of year.

4. Use clever signage.


Think buy-one-get-one-free signs, discount signs or signs promoting time sensitive offers. The author also said signs can temporarily replace a salesperson and provide just enough information to the customer before a representative can tend to their needs more specifically. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo.

Ah, yes, signage. Customers are attracted to signs. Sales signs, clever signs, witty signs, colorful signs and even hand-written signs grab customers’ attention. Small Business Bonfire recently posted an article citing a survey by FedEx Office about the power of attractive signage. The website lists four reasons businesses should use signs, and provides a neat infographic about how to use signage to your advantage.

An article on Orderhive suggests posting signs outside your store to help customers locate your business, and inside your store to steer arriving customers to a few hotspots within 10 seconds. Think discount signs, “buy-one-get-one-free” signs, or signs promoting time-sensitive offers. The article also notes that signs can temporarily replace a salesperson and provide just enough information to hold the customer long enough for a representative to address their needs specifically.

Signs also provide helpful directions. Use them to help customers easily find your store’s product categories. Label aisles so customers can quickly locate which one holds sights, rests, broadheads, fletching supplies, etc.

More tips and tricks

For 20 more merchandising tips, check out this MannequinMall’s article, which helps retailers maximize their merchandising techniques. One trick is to seek visual-merchandising help from manufacturers and distributors, which will usually offer suggestions because they benefit when you sell many of their products.

You can also improve your merchandising techniques by being an active consumer. Each time you visit Target, Home Depot or the grocery store, study how they merchandise products. Learn from their mistakes and copy their successes. Big companies spend lots of money on merchandising strategies that small retailers can mimic.

After you’ve enhanced your in-store appearance to better promote sales, improve your store’s outside appearance. Clean your storefront windows and spruce up your paint-chipped doorstep. After all, first impressions and attractive curb appeal also boost your business.

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