Investing in retail merchandising not an option for retailers

A few days ago I was speaking with a client who owns a couple of dozen retail locations about ways to improve his stores’ average volume.  Most of his locations have solid foot traffic, so I tried to turn the conversation toward building his average sale per transaction.  As we all know, building your basket is one of the best ways to increase revenue.

One of the things that we discussed was investing some time and effort on improving his stores’ merchandising plan in order to influence impulse and add-on sales.  I was surprised when the client indicated that he would rather invest money in buying advertising than in updating his fixtures.   He indicated that marketing, rent, inventory, utilities, and staffing, etc. are 'required' expenses but that   merchandising and display are 'extras' or unnecessary.

According to studies done by the National Retail Federation and others, over 58% of your customers will make incremental buying decisions based on your store’s visual image and the quality of your displays.  A well merchandised retail store truly can act as a ‘silent salesperson’.   Therefore, in today's competitive retail environment a retailer cannot afford to consider merchandising as an 'extra'.  

Merchandising is more than the basic arrangement of products on the shelf. It is an integral component of the business image.  When you develop your retail merchandising plan you will want to consider the customers' experience, from their first sight of your store front, until they leave store – hopefully with a purchase in hand.  Retail merchandising is also about understanding the way customers shop. By using this knowledge, you can position your merchandise to increase sales.  Things to consider include:

If you are looking to improve the visual image of your store there are many opportunities to take advantage of retail training courses that will assist you with designing your store layout and you can purchase refurbished fixtures from many vendors.  Additionally you may find that your suppliers can assist you with covering the cost of new fixtures and signage if you attain minimum purchase commitments.

Including merchandising in your marketing plan and budget makes sense.  It can make the difference between selling a product, or having it sit on the shelf.

–          David Goodwin is the Principal of the Retail Advocacy Group.  As a 30 year veteran of the retail industry he has hired, trained, and performance managed thousands of retail sales representatives and retail managers.  You can learn more about instructor-led and e-learning training solutions for retailers at