Why Merchandising is so Important
Critical to retail success is to possess focus, to possess a grip within the market, have a technique to win customers, and move products. That’s merchandising in a nutshell.
Retail merchandisers ought to consider themselves like curators at a deposit. A steward doesn’t simply amass a set of endless art and artifacts and stick them on an enclose a hodgepodge manner. They appear surely themes and commonalities and make a set that may showcase every item, drawing attention to everyone’s distinctive qualities and maximizing the potential for guests to relish what they see. They additionally do what they will to drive a lot of individuals to need to examine the exhibit within the initial place, and hopefully bring home a couple of things from shop.
Successful retail merchandising professionals think about their work in the same way. Fashion merchandisers bring together specific collections based on the season, the function or the designer. Electronics merchandisers curate items by functionality, popularity or wow factor. Toy retailers curate based on age groups, colors and the season’s hottest releases, all with the goal of driving maximum sales and profitability.
Knowing where to blur the lines
There are times where merchandising can include cross-over products that complement their primary offerings.
For example, grocers are primarily providers of food, but many of the larger stores will offer some related general merchandise. The grocery stores near my house also sell basic kitchen items, like pots and pans, spatulas and spoons, even plates and eating utensils. Some have even started carrying clothing and gardening supplies (you know – so you can grow your own veggies and herbs).
Similarly, since electronics retailer sells items for watching movies — TVs, DVD and Blu-Ray players, surround sound systems and DVDs — it makes sense to sell movie snacks and soda as well. On the flip side, the grocery store might start selling DVDs for family dinner nights. But if the grocery store started selling major electronics like TVs and stereos, that might not particularly go over well because it would be too far out of the grocer’s domain.
Merchandise within the store or on the e-commerce site should take into account consumer intent. Would a customer come to you for that item? Or would they trust someone else more? For example, would you ever want to make a stop at Best Buy or Circuit City to buy milk? Would you trust milk from a store with a primary focus on electronics? That’s getting to the heart of consumer intent.
Merchandising & consumer expectations
These are extreme examples, but I used them to prove a point: Stepping too far out of consumer expectations for merchandise offerings can at least result in “misfit” stock that won’t sell and cost a lost, and at worst can trigger consumers to question your credibility even with your niche categories and offerings. Even within your core categories.
Retail merchandisers also want to offer enough tried and true products, the ones they can rely on and that the customers want week after week, season after season, or year after year. Basically, the products that you can rely on always selling — milk and eggs in grocery stores, TVs and smart phones for electronics stores, and new beachwear every springtime in clothing stores.
But they also want to try new products that they think could appeal to their customers, and hope they picked a new product that will sell well, instead of experimenting with something that just flops or fails to meet initial expectations.
Data mining for merchandising
This is where your point of sale data analytics and sharing that information can make a big difference for both retailers and their suppliers. Retailers who are thinking about adding new products can bring a new supplier’s line into a few stores, or even introduce it into their e-commerce store and pair the line with their related products through a “You might also like” type of feature.
Then the retailer can look at their point of sales data and see which products are having an impact and which ones are coming up short. The products that do well can be brought into more stores, and the sales further monitored. By sharing POS data, suppliers can also have line of sight into that to make quick recommendations to retailers on those test product.
Similarly, suppliers and retailers can share sales data to show what works and what doesn’t. When a supplier is pitching to a new retailer, they can help make their case if they show how similar retailers have performed with those same products in their own stores. Similarly, retailers can show suppliers their own sales data to better illustrate their merchandising needs in terms of products and promotional efforts.
Finally, data can give an overall look at what the market is doing beyond the single brand, retailers or supplier’s, and what trends are taking place. Retailers and suppliers should both have access to this kind of industry data, but it could be advantageous to collaborate and put your heads together for the best approach.
If you’re trying to add a new category for strategic reasons, such as when Walmart and Target both added grocery sections and when J.C.Penney started selling appliances (again), there are some other, different things to consider. But that’s a post for another time.