What is Merchandising?

Merchandising is the strategy businesses use to sell products. It’s a broad category that covers everything from inventory decisions, to how products are displayed in-store, to how they are marketed online. There are many types of merchandising and five key considerations to keep in mind while crafting a successful strategy. Doing so can make or break your sales goals, so it’s crucial to make merchandising a top priority. 

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Types of merchandising

Visual merchandising

Visual merchandising refers to all the visual elements that a business uses to sell a product and highlight its features. This includes the product’s lighting and color as well as all of the graphics that surround the display in-store. Online, visual merchandising includes the photos of the product as well as the videos and description of how the product works. Visual merchandising should complement the product without detracting attention from the product itself.

Retail merchandising

Retail merchandising refers to the promotional activities that help drive in-store sales. This includes promotions and in-store events, as well as product placement and the overall ambiance of the store itself. Cleanliness and accessibility in a store are just as important for retail merchandising as the active campaigns intended to get people there.

Digital merchandising

Digital merchandising is similar to retail merchandising except in an e-commerce environment. An online store’s navigation, technical features, and checkout experience contribute to the business’s digital merchandising. Digital branding and marketing techniques like social media and email marketing are also components of successful digital merchandising.

Omnichannel merchandising

Omnichannel marketing is the combination of both digital and retail merchandising tactics to create a consistent customer experience online and in-person. Omnichannel merchandising is especially important for hybrid commerce businesses. Strategically implemented customer relationship management (CRM) software can help with this effort: it combines a customer’s shopping data from online and in-person channels to make intelligent product recommendations and help with cross-selling and up-selling. 

What are the 5 Rs of merchandising?

Right product

Customers want products that are both trendy and on par with what they’ve come to expect from your business. This requires research about what’s in demand as well as a strong sense of brand identity. If a product seems like a departure from the norm, there should be a clear strategy in place to bring it to market.

Right place

Customers want to be able to find products easily, whether they’re shopping online or in-person. Product placement is a major consideration in this area—if a customer is forced to go hunting for the specific product they need, it’s more likely that they will give up and go somewhere else. You can also use digital marketing tools to target people who are actively searching for the products you sell.

Right time

Customers want products that are appropriate for a specific time. This includes the four seasons and major holidays, but it also includes other time-sensitive shopping events like back-to-school, sports events, and local community traditions. Supply chain software can help ensure you have the right products in stock at the right time.

Right quantity

Successful merchandising requires you have the right quantity of a product on hand to meet demand. This requires extensive planning and if you’re managing multiple retail locations and an online store, this can be particularly difficult. An inventory management solution can help orchestrate your product stock so you always have the right quantity available.

Right price

Price can be the ultimate deciding factor in a customer’s purchasing decision. The prices you set for your merchandise should be competitive while still having big enough margins to pad your bottom line. You should also price your merchandise should reflect how products are moving—if an item isn’t selling like you thought it would based on analytics from your point of sale (POS) system, it might be time to discount it.

Benefits of merchandising

Strong merchandising comes with a number of benefits, which is why it should be a top priority for all retailers. First, it can strengthen your brand identity and solidify your business’s name in your market. At the same time, it also creates a cohesive experience for your customers regardless of the channel they take to interact with your business. Ultimately, all of these benefits help the broader goal of driving sales for your business. If business growth is at the top of your priority list, merchandising is the solution.

Read next: 8 Affordable Small Business Marketing Strategies

Kaiti Norton
Kaiti Norton
Kaiti Norton is the editor of Small Business Computing. She is passionate about creating relatable, research-based content that helps small businesses thrive.

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