From the blog Retail Merchandising: Plan the Perfect Layout for Your Retail Store
Take a look around your retail store. You likely have products on shelves, hanging on the walls or neatly displayed near the entrance. That’s retail merchandising hard at work.
Retail merchandising is a skill every small business owner can master.
Some retail merchandising concepts may seem obvious and come naturally. However, there are strategies you can implement to simplify your customers’ shopping experience. In turn, you can increase sales and bring in more profits.
In this guide, we’re going to show you exactly what you can do to be an effective retail merchandiser.
What is retail merchandising?
Retail merchandising covers how you organize your retail store and display your products. It consists of the strategies and tactics used to improve the customer shopping experience and maximize retail sales.
There’s a lot that goes into retail merchandising that can be easily overlooked. Basic things like store layout, product placement and product displays can make all the difference in a retail setting.
Your focus is on converting shoppers into paying customers.
Before we get into a few ideas to try, let’s go over some of the benefits of a good retail merchandising plan.
Why retail merchandising matters
A strong retail merchandising plan simplifies the shopping process and encourages shoppers to purchase your products. It increases sales, improves inventory turnover, and strengthens your brand identity.
Customers are less likely to make a purchase if they’re overwhelmed by your store’s layout. Even counterintuitive challenges, like giving too many options, can hurt sales. An easy-to-navigate shopping experience means more profit for you.
Shopping can be a stressful activity, especially if you’re unable to find what you’re looking for. You can simplify the process by placing similar products next to each other or guiding customers to navigate your store in a particular pattern.
You also have an opportunity to incorporate branding elements and communicate your brand identity to customers. Signage, design aesthetics and brand imagery are a few things you can incorporate to immerse customers in your brand.
For example, Apple does an amazing job of incorporating their brand and what they stand for in all of its retail stores. If you’ve ever been to an Apple store, you likely remember the wood grain floors, minimalist design elements and open layout.
All of these features align with what Apple represents.
Transform your retail space into a unique shopping experience that aligns with who you are.
So how can you boost your sales and keep customers coming back? Let’s take a look at some different aspects of retail marketing you should be thinking about.
Retail merchandising factors to consider
Retail merchandising includes a few different areas. Product selection, pricing strategy, in-store advertising and store layout all contribute to a thorough retail merchandising strategy.
Product selection has as much to do with the products you’re selling as to how you’re arranging them in your store. You’ve already established a set of products that customers are purchasing. Focus on visual merchandising, and you could sell even more.
How you arrange your products on shelving is one place to start. Products that are at eye-level generally sell better than those near the bottom of the shelf. The same goes for end-cap items—or items at the end of the aisle. These tend to sell better than products buried at the back of your store.
You can also increase sales by placing similar products next to one another. For example, if you’re selling winter hats, scarves and gloves, it might not be a bad idea to put these items near each other. There’s a strong possibility customers will buy all three at the same time.
Determining the right price for your products warrants an entire examination in itself. It’s not always easy to find, but there’s a sweet spot when it comes to pricing.
You should price your products so they drive as much profit as possible without driving customers away.
But that’s easier said than done.
One tactic is to draw attention to products by highlighting a low price on signage or stickers. Customers will then focus their attention on this one product. Once you have their attention, you can strategically place similar products next to each other so they can compare products across different price points.
Billboards and Facebook ads are great but don’t stop the promotions once people walk in your door. In-store advertising can help communicate promotional content like sales, discounts and seasonal events. You can advertise any deals you’re currently offering or promote upcoming events to bring customers back at a future date.
You can also use signage to direct customers around your store.
Signs that are functional and easy to read will help customers navigate your retail space and direct them to the products they’re interested in. It can even help them discover new products they didn’t know about.
Your store’s layout should maximize your floor space and guide customers in a specific pattern. The layout of your store can follow one of three patterns—a grid, loop or free-flow.
A grid allows customers to easily navigate your store by roaming up and down the aisles. This is what you’d find in a grocery store or most big-box retail chains.
A loop pushes customers to the outside walls of your store. This naturally encourages customers to walk in a loop around your store, perfect for appliance stores or electronics retailers that have products positioned against the walls.
A free-flow designed store doesn’t follow a particular pattern. This allows for creative merchandising displays for companies like clothing retailers or high-end fashion brands.
Now that you’re familiar with the different aspects of retail merchandising, let’s see how you can create a plan and implement some smart changes in your retail business.
How to build an effective retail merchandising plan
There are three steps you can take to build an effective retail merchandising plan—strategize merchandising ideas, audit your current practices and implement new tactics.
Here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Strategize with your customer and brand in mind
It’s always great to start by putting your customers first. After all, your business exists to provide value to your customers.
Ask these questions:
- What products are your customers most interested in?
- What do they expect from a brand?
- How much are they willing to spend on your products?
- If you were a customer, what type of shopping experience would you prefer?
Then move into brainstorming. What are some low-cost, quick ways to incorporate your brand identity into your store? How can you create an environment that visually aligns with your brand and conveys what you stand for?
If your brand is more casual, feel free to loosen up and create a casual retail space. If you’d prefer a more formal approach, strategize ways to communicate this in your design.
2. Conduct an audit of your store
Now that you’ve thought about your target customer and branding, take a look at what you’re already doing. Are your current strategies working, or are they falling flat?
Look for things like how you’re using floor space and where your products are located. You can also look into inventory management and sales data with your point of sale system to see which products are performing well and which ones aren’t selling.
Giving yourself an honest audit will help you find opportunities for improvement. You can then narrow down a few ideas you want to focus on.
3. Optimize your retail merchandising practices
Based on your audit, you can start optimizing your retail store. There are many steps you can take to improve the efficiency of your retail store’s merchandising strategy.
One approach is to reorganize your store’s layout. If you don’t have a well-thought-out store layout, then make a change. An effective layout can lead customers to the right products and increase cart size.
Another easy fix is organizing complementary products into a cohesive display. For example, if you own a vintage consignment store, group your products in a way that makes sense. You can create a display of an entire outfit that includes multiple items. Put a blazer and shirt alongside matching pants, belts, shoes, jewelry and other accessories to encourage more sales.
Your fitting room is another merchandising opportunity.
Fitting rooms should be well-lit, clean and allow for a flattering view of the clothes being tried on. Your customer is more likely to complete a purchase if they feel confident they look great in what they’re wearing.
Master retail merchandising and maximize your sales
Customers typically won’t notice effective retail merchandising. It’s subtle and feels natural. It delivers a positive customer experience without getting in the way of shopping.
On the other hand, bad in-store merchandising confuses customers and creates a negative experience. Your customers will notice that.
You don’t have to be an expert merchandiser to improve the shopping experience in your store. You just need a few tricks up your sleeve. Remember to optimize your store layout, displays and product placement, and you’ll be well on your way to taking your retail store to the next level.