With all of the competition your store faces, creating a deliberate merchandising strategy is vital. To help you design the strategy that's right for your store, we've selected the following highlights from a post by Mackenzie Hurlbert for Independent Retailer.
“Everything has changed in retail, but everything changes all the time,” said Ken Warren, owner of Westport River Gallery in Connecticut and 2010 Marketing and Public Relations. “The bottom line is, who is your customer? What are their habits, and why do they come to you?”
In order to find out who your customer is all you have to do is listen. See who walks in your door, who likes your Facebook page, or who gives you a review on Yelp, and listen to their observations, both good and bad.
Samantha Cohen, a junior partner at the merchandising consultation company Retail Concepts, said they always include window displays when creating their marketing strategies for clients. “Switching up windows often is a great way to keep people engaged and peeking in,” Cohen said. “Remember though, window designs should be big and bold, as not to get lost in the shuffle. A customer has only a couple of seconds in driving, slightly more if walking. Be sure it is quick and easy to digest.”
While window displays may be an effective way to get passersby into the store, promotions posted in-store, online and on social media can also increase traffic if they are creative and enticing. Cohen suggested a variety of promotions to make customers feel appreciated and welcomed. “Could you do a gift with purchase?” Cohen asked. “Or could you create mystery bags in which customers blindly pick a bag filled with goodies?” Promotions can also provide incentives to get customers returning to the store. “Offer a discount off of a future purchase, to encourage repeat visits,” said Cohen. “And if you are doing a promotion, be sure to market it. Post to social media and get your staff talking about it.”
Lastly, consider your store inventory and prices in comparison to your competitors. In the world of online shopping, prices for products are negotiable—this makes it harder for brick-and-mortar stores to hold true to their original prices. “You have to be very conscious of your customer, the world, and other prices,” said Warren. “You cannot just stand there and say ‘well, this is the price.’ Is anything really ‘the price’ anymore? Most retailers would never admit that.”
Maintaining a fresh and modern inventory in comparison with your competitors can also make an impact on your customer’s experience. “Constantly be looking at your inventory,” said Cohen. “Do not sit on products that are not working. Mark them down and move them out. Take risks, try new products and brands, and constantly be looking around the industry to see what is out there. Customers want to see new product when they are coming in-store, not the same things.”
Retail Concepts’ top five tips for merchandising a business
Think about the target customer when merchandising, and at every store touch-point. The store and merchandising strategy needs to be built with them in mind.
Use signage to your advantage. There are two main types of consumers—verbal and non-verbal. The store needs to sell itself to the non-verbal consumer who would choose (for whatever reason) not to interact with store employees.
Inventory management is a merchandising tool. Do not be intimidated by the numbers! Use them to your advantage!
Keep things fresh! Constantly have inventory flowing in and out. Use windows and displays to tell relevant stories that can then be married to social posts and promotions or activations.
Have fun! Let your brand shine through at every touch point and create something you are proud of. And get staff involved and empower them to help out and get creative. It is a team effort.
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