I was talking with Dance Retailer News awhile back about database marketing. As I was thumbing through the April issue looking for the article, I noticed a few photos of stores in an article.
What struck me was the photos of the stores they featured was that in each store, there was so much merchandise, seemingly displayed in a haphazard manner, that it made it tough to shop – I wasn’t sure what was for sale and what wasn’t. I see this issue over and over again with stores I work with and with just random stores I visit.
It’s clutter. It’s disorganization. It’s lack of a plan. It’s lack of visual merchandising.
Most consumers don’t have the time and energy to figure out a store. They want it clean, laid out well, and easily shoppable. They want to get in and get out.
So why do so many retailers present their merchandise in a way that consumers want to experience it? Most times, it’s that retailers don’t know what they don’t know. And sometimes it’s just that they’ve been doing it for so long that they don’t notice.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
You CAN increase sales if your store is laid out well.
I’ve written about visual merchandising before. But I think it never hurts to remind retailers about a few visual merchandising tips and tricks as it relates to product placement and how to merchandise areas of your store.
- Milk and eggs and bread and butter go in the back. Put the things your customers are coming in for (your milk, you bread) at the back of the store. These are your staple products people most likely know you carry anyway. So why put them in your most valuable real estate at the front of the store? Put them in back, where you can direct people to them if you need to, and save the valuable real estate for other things.
- Newness goes front and center. Do you have a new brand, a new product you want to feature? Make sure it’s front and center, just within your store entrance, and make people stumble over it (or at least walk around it). Make sure you sign the area well with product information and “lifestyle” (I don’t like that word but it works) imagery. Use props to round out the feature area.
- Sale merchandise goes in a corner near the back but don’t hide it – call it out. Everybody loves a sale. And make sure it’s clear what the discount or deal is – sign every shelf if you have to. And above all else, keep your sale area looking as good as the rest of the store. Straighten it up, clean the shelves, arrange things by color or size – there are great ways to tell a story in your sale area. Do it right and you’ll sell a lot more.
- Repeat after me, “The cash wrap area is for conducting transactions, not for creating mazes and obstacle courses.” The general cash wrap area is the biggest visual merchandising issue I find among retailers. Too often retailers throw all the miscellaneous stuff that they can’t figure out where to put it and they throw it in front of the cash wrap. You’re creating a gauntlet customers have to run, just to buy something. Put that stuff in a corner, clump it together in its own section, figure out how to merchandise it differently and make it more interesting to shop. There are a million different ways to merchandise this stuff to make it appealing.
- Repeat after me, “The cash Wrap is for conducting transactions, not for indulging my packrat addiction.” This isn’t the airport where you have to reach over three tiered levels chock full of 1,000 items – you know what I’m talking about. Those things are so deep and packed full, you need rubber arms to get your arms to extend to get your money to the cashier. A few items work best so your customers don’t have to figure it out, and add a few complimentary items. Think grab and go. Think $5. Don’t make your customers do the thinking, “Hmmmm, should I spend the $72 on this”. You want them to think, “Oh what the heck, it’s only $5, I’ll take it.”
Alright, I’ve rambled enough. Get going. Start looking at your store. How are you going to make it less cluttered? How are you going to make it more visually appealing?