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30 Essential Retail Merchandising Tips and Tricks You Need To Know

Retail Merchandising Tips and Tricks

Retail merchandising tips and tricks are more important than ever.

Let’s not beat around the bush: COVID-19 has made life pretty tough for retailers, with forced closures, reduced foot traffic, and an economic recession to boot.

Not to mention the ecommerce boom.

In 2019 – before the pandemic hit – online U.S. retail sales surpassed general merchandise sales for the first time in history. And since the pandemic hit, ecommerce has eaten up even more retail sales.

Still, although websites have their advantages, they’ll never be able to replicate the authentic, in-person experience of a retail store.

So, what can you do to thrive in the face of these challenges? 

In short, improve your store experience and streamline your retail merchandising efforts. How? In this rapid-fire guide, you’ll learn 30 retail merchandising tips to increase sales.

But before we dive in, what is retail merchandising exactly?

What Is Retail Merchandising?

Retail merchandising is the process of selling products in a physical store. It’s the set of experiences you create within a store to drive sales. It encompasses the selection, arrangement, and display of your products – from special promotions to store traffic patterns.

Why is merchandising important in retail? Simply put, an excellent retail merchandising strategy can dramatically influence how consumers discover products, evaluate purchases, and ultimately, choose what to buy.

As a result, a robust retail merchandising plan will lay the foundations for business success.

How To Merchandise a Retail Store: 30 Retail Merchandising Tips and Tricks

Looking for retail merchandising ideas? Here are 30 retail merchandising tips and tricks that you can use to convert more shoppers into customers.

1. Consider Your Brand and Target Market

First things first: Every aspect of your retail merchandising plan should take into account your brand and your target market. In other words, your store experience should represent your brand values and resonate powerfully with your target market.

For example, if you run a children’s store bursting with color and positivity, your product displays and decor should reflect that.

2. Choose the Right Floor Plan

Your store’s layout can profoundly affect the shopping experience – which is why all supermarket floor plans are pretty much the same.

There are many different floor plans, and each one has its pros and cons. So, whether you opt for a grid, loop, angular, or free-flow floor plan (like the one pictured below), make sure to do some research and choose the best one for your store.

Retail Merchandising Tips: Choose the Right Floor Plan

3. Consider Navigation and Flow

When determining your layout, consider how you want to lead shoppers through your store. For example, homeware store IKEA does a great job of leading people through the shopping experience.

You may also want to think carefully about the direction you lead people in. Herb Sorensen, author of Inside The Mind of The Shopper, notes that people in countries with right-hand driving typically prefer to move around the store in a counter-clockwise fashion and vice-versa.

4. Maintain a “Decompression Zone”

The first 5 to 15 feet of your store is often referred to as the “decompression zone” – it’s where shoppers transition from the world outside into your store’s experience.

In general, it’s best to keep the decompression zone clear and uncluttered. It’s also a perfect place to introduce your brand’s personality and values.

5. Allow for Social Distancing

COVID-19 has changed retail in many ways, but perhaps one of the most crucial changes to note is the need for additional space to allow for social distancing.

Ensure your store has enough space for shoppers to move freely while keeping their distance from others.

Retail Merchandising Tips: Allow Space for Social Distancing

Retail merchandising best practices like grouping related products are well-known. Still, it’s worth taking some time to organize your products into groups that make them easy for shoppers to find.

For example, boutique clothing stores may want to group formal wear, casual clothing, and accessories. However, a sports store may find it more practical to group products by sport.

7. Cross Merchandise

Cross merchandising is the process of displaying different types of products together to increase sales. The idea is to ignite the shopper’s imagination, save them time, and improve the shopping experience. 

Look for interesting ways to cross merchandise. For example, if you sell beachwear accessories, you could group beach towels, sunscreen, sunhats, and sunglasses to get people excited about their upcoming vacation.

8. Encourage Impulse Buys

Encouraging impulse purchases has to be one of the best retail merchandising tips out there. 

While shoppers wait in line to check out, why not encourage them to keep shopping by placing inexpensive and discounted products within reach?

9. Engage Every Sense

Create a truly memorable experience by engaging shoppers’ senses. For example, you could play music, offer free samples, and add a scent to your store. You could also ensure products are within easy reach for shoppers to feel and explore with their hands.

10. Answer FAQs With Signs

In-store signage can be an effective way to improve your store’s shopping experience. Start by answering FAQs to help shoppers quickly find what they’re looking for.

For example, you could direct people to fitting rooms, restrooms, and different product categories in your store.

Retail Merchandising Tips: Use In-Store Signage

11. Promote Offers, Features, and Benefits With Signs

Similarly, you can also use signs to: 

  • Promote sales
  • Highlight product features and benefits
  • Educate shoppers about a particular product or brand
  • Showcase your brand’s personality

Ensure your signs are visible, legible, and represent your brand.

12. Display Products at Varying Heights

Display space is valuable – especially as you now have to leave extra room for social distancing. So, use all the space you have – high and low. Placing products at varying heights can also help to engage shoppers. 

Use props to help display products at different heights – for example, you could place products in baskets on the floor, spread products across a table, and hang some from the ceiling.

13. Use Empty Space Wisely

The space between a store’s merchandise and the ceiling is often underutilized. Use it to hang signs featuring images or testimonials that showcase your brand. You could also create unique product displays that promote your best-selling products.

14. Prioritize Safety

The pandemic has radically altered the way people feel when shopping. So, make an effort to reassure shoppers that you’re taking health and hygiene measures to ensure their safety.

Place a hand sanitizer stand at the entrance, add a sign saying that masks are mandatory, and place a plexiglass screen on the checkout counter to separate staff from shoppers.

Retail Merchandising Tips: Put Safety First

15. Optimize Fitting Rooms

If you sell items that shoppers may want to try on, pay close attention to your fitting room retail merchandising strategy.

Fitting rooms should be spacious, organized, and clean. Remember, shoppers often get half-naked in these rooms, so they need to feel comfortable. For example, ensure rooms are the right temperature and keep staff close by so there’s always someone to help without invading shopper’s privacy.

Also, consider the mirrors and lighting you use – backlit mirrors are well-known to be flattering and realistic.

Finally, find a way to sanitize the space and the products after each shopper has used them to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

16. Offer Curbside Pickup

Since the pandemic hit, more and more customers have been purchasing products online and then picking them up from the store. If you haven’t already, take your store online and offer a streamlined curbside pickup option.

Retail Merchandising Tips: Offer Curbside Pickup

17. Place Products Strategically

Shoppers’ interest and energy levels typically fade as they move through a store. So, consider placing your newest and best-selling items at the front of your store. You may also want to put sale items at the back of the store to re-engage shoppers as their interest wanes.

18. Track Your Results

When implementing new retail merchandising tips and tricks, keep a close watch on changes in sales.

Have sales increased since you implemented a new store layout? Has the number of impulse purchases improved since you added a line of products near the checkout counter? With objective data, you’ll be able to home in on what works best.

Visual Merchandising Tips and Tricks

Visual merchandising refers to the strategic presentation of products in a retail store to increase sales. It includes everything from window displays to lighting. Here are some top visual merchandising tips and tricks!

19. Focus on High-Value Items

Use your store displays to upsell and cross-sell. For example, you could create a display of higher-priced suits, shirts, and shoes next to more affordable ones. 

Also, promote products that sell well but may not be on shoppers’ lists. For instance, a bookstore could place eye-catching covers from best-selling authors in the windows to capture the attention of passers-by.

Retail Merchandising Tips: Promote High-Value Items

20. Keep Things Fresh

Regular shoppers won’t be engaged by something they’ve seen before. Newness and novelty are essential to creating a sense of excitement and interest. So, change your displays regularly – especially when sales begin to slow or when you have fresh products to promote.

21. Capitalize on Events

Whether it’s Christmas, election season, or just summer, take advantage of holidays, events, and seasons and build timely displays around them. This is a great way to keep things interesting and engage shoppers.

22. Use a Theme

You can also build displays around themes. This could be as simple as using lots of lampshades like in the image below or involve many products and props, such as a group of mannequins in formal wear at a faux party.

Retail Merchandising Tips: Use Themes

23. Establish a Focal Point

It’s good practice to ensure every retail display has a focal point to draw the eye of shoppers. Whether it’s a prized product, a novel prop, or a hands-on experience, try to find a way to make a statement of some kind.

24. Make Your Displays Instagrammable

Instagram is a great place to show off your brand and promote your store, so why not create displays that are Instagrammable and gain some free exposure? Go for the ”wow” factor. You could also add a sign to prompt shoppers to take selfies with your display and tag your store in their posts.

25. Use Mannequins

Mannequins can help demonstrate the style and fit of clothing while also kickstarting the shopper’s imagination. And for some shoppers, seeing clothes on a mannequin is good enough for them to skip the fitting room. 

If you sell apparel, consider using attractive mannequins as part of your retail merchandising strategy.

Retail Merchandising Tips: Use Mannequins

26. Keep Things Manageable

You don’t always need to create elaborate displays to engage shoppers – often, simple displays can do the trick just as well. 

Choose a few key products that compliment each other and focus on presenting them in the most impactful way possible.

27. Harness Color Psychology

Colors can influence how we think and feel. When you arrange products and displays, think about how color psychology could help you create a memorable experience.

This graphic from Boutique illustrates how we associate certain emotions with colors.

Retail Merchandising Tips: Use Color Psychology

28. Consider Every Angle

Product displays should always be made to engage customers from all angles. For example, if you create a window display, make sure that it’s also attractive from behind for customers inside the store.

29. Consider Lighting

Good lighting is essential to setting the mood in your store. Whether you opt for bright or cozy, use lighting to enhance the aesthetic of your store and displays.

Retail Merchandising Tips: Consider Lighting

30. Expand Beyond Your Walls

If possible, use the space outside your store to display eye-catching merchandise and promotions to catch the attention of passers-by and draw them into your store.

Summary: 30 Essential Retail Merchandising Tips and Tricks

Putting together a successful retail merchandising plan can take a lot of time and effort. However, it’s easy to understand the importance of retail merchandising – after all, the shopping experience you create can have a massive impact on your sales.

If you’re wondering how to merchandise a retail store, here are 30 retail merchandising tips to increase sales:

Retail Merchandising Tips and Tricks

  • Consider your brand and target market
  • Choose the right floor plan
  • Consider navigation and flow
  • Maintain a ”decompression zone”
  • Allow for social distancing
  • Group related products
  • Cross merchandise
  • Encourage impulse buys
  • Engage every sense
  • Answer FAQs with signs
  • Use signs to promote offers, features, and benefits
  • Display products at varying heights
  • Use empty space wisely
  • Prioritize safety
  • Optimize fitting rooms
  • Offer curbside pickup
  • Place best-selling and newer products at the front of the store
  • Track your results

Visual Merchandising Tips and Tricks

  • Focus on upgrades and high-value items
  • Keep things fresh
  • Capitalize on events
  • Use a theme
  • Establish a focal point
  • Make your displays Instagrammable
  • Use mannequins
  • Keep displays manageable
  • Harness color psychology
  • Consider every angle of your display
  • Consider lighting
  • Expand beyond the walls of your store

What retail merchandising tips and tricks have you implemented since the pandemic hit? Let us know in the comments below!

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