A view of the industry through the
eyes of independent and chain retailers.
Strategies to help consumers see, hear, taste,
touch, smell-- and then buy.
by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender (March1, 2010)
Have you ever gone into a store to buy a single item and left
with a cartload of things you hadn't intended to buy?
Congratulations! You have fallen victim to some other retailer's
merchandising strategy. When a store is merchandised well this
becomes a common occurrence.
Take Target, for example. The average Target store isn't fancy,
it's just a big box lined with basic gondolas. But what they do with
the merchandise on those gondolas is magic. At Target it's not about
the fixtures or the décor, the
product is the star.
And how do you make your product the star? It's easy when your
merchandising involves each of your customer's five senses.
Hearing: Audio Architecture
If your store is quiet, then you may be missing out on sales. The
music you play in your store does more than entertain shoppers, it
provides a background that entices them to stay longer and buy more.
We like music that gives shoppers a psychological lift; maybe that's
why we're obsessed with disco. When played in a store, disco is the
sound of money. Young or old, it makes shoppers smile. Another plus:
the right music can make your associates more efficient, so if
they're dragging at the end of the day, crank up the tunes.
Muzak Corporation has made background music a science. Visit www.muzak.com
to learn more.
Taste: The Flavor of Success
You know our motto: Food is Good! And not just because we like to
eat, which we do. A lot. Food is good because it's another tactic to
entice shoppers to buy. Grocery stores serve veritable feasts in
their aisles each weekend for two reasons: to get shoppers to try
new products and to keep them in the store longer.
If you sell food this is a no-brainer. But even if you don't,
it's not a problem if you make food part of your store experience.
Place a pitcher of cold lemonade near the front door to welcome
shoppers on hot days. Do the same thing in the winter, replacing the
lemonade with hot coffee or cocoa. Offer free bottles of water
customized with your store's own label. Place a plate of cookies in
the area where female shoppers park their guys. Implement our Kids
Cookie Credit Card. Host a wine tasting. Partner with a local
restaurant for an in-store event. The ideas are endless. Just
remember that when customers try, they usually buy, so while their
mouths are full, stick a cool product in their hands. (Drop us an
email for our free, easy-to-customize Kids Cookie Credit Card
Smell: Aromatherapy and Aromacology
Remember that old retail adage: "If it smells, it
sells"? Turns out it's true: researchers have found that a
pleasant-smelling environment has a positive effect on shopping
behavior. We all respond to good scents, maybe because they have the
power to evoke memory. Who hasn't gotten a whiff of something
familiar and been instantly transported to another place in time?
That's what made aromatherapy so popular.
Now we have Aromacology: the science of scents and their effect
on our minds and moods. Grapefruit, for example, will give shoppers
more energy, vanilla will calm them when the store is hectic, pine
inspires positive feelings, and cinnamon is said to attract money.
So put out the potpourri, or better yet, purchase scent diffusers
and place them throughout the store. Visit ScentAir's website at www.scentair.com
to learn more about the science of smell.
Touch: Please Play with the Merchandise
Some stores set such intricate displays that shoppers are afraid
to touch them. Even worse are the sales people who follow shoppers
around the store re-folding sweaters and fluffing the displays
customers have the audacity to touch. Give us a break: shoppers are
supposed to mess up the store!
Make sure our displays invite customers to play. Instead of an
intricate display of scrapbooking totes, expertly packed with
accessories, set them on a table the way department stores display
expensive designer handbags. Add a mirror so a customer can see how
cool she's going to look when she buys that tote she's had her eye
on. Add small table displays throughout the store with open product
so shoppers can try before they buy. Choose an "Item of the
Day" that store associates carry around with them as they work.
Encourage them to show the item to customers, inviting them to take
a look or try it out. Make a visit to your store a fun and
interactive experience – not just a place to buy stuff!
Sight: Visual Merchandising
Much of what happens on your sales floor is visual; all of that
wonderful merchandise is eye candy to a shopper. You can place
product on your shelves and hope it sells, or you can use Visual
Merchandising techniques to make sure that it does.
Make a Vertical Move
You've just opened a box of new product and are about to set up
an end feature display. There are two ways you can merchandise this
product on the shelves: horizontally or vertically. If you choose a
horizontal presentation, placing just one product per shelf, then
you limit the amount of items a shopper is likely to see as she
scans a shelf. If she only glances at the second shelf, she will
only see that particular product. That's why a vertical presentation
is the better bet.
Any time you display product in a vertical slice, you expose
shoppers to a greater variety of the assortment at any eye level.
We're naturally inclined to read from left to right, so Vertical
Merchandising encourages shoppers to see your entire selection of
merchandise, regardless of which shelf they choose to gaze upon.
Small Left, Large Right
Say you sell Product X in two sizes. A popular trick of the trade
involves displaying the small size of a product on the left, and the
larger size on the right. This technique works because most
customers are right handed, and will unconsciously reach for the
item closest to their right hands, rather than reaching across their
body or shopping cart. Walk your aisles – you'll find endless
opportunities for this trick in your store.
Find the Hot Spot
Every single section of every single fixture has a "Hot
Spot," the part of the fixture that sells the best. Most
shoppers tend to stop and look at the center of a product category
or display, so the Hot Spot silently points out – sells –
You can locate the Hot Spot on any fixture by simply drawing an
imaginary cross through its center. In the case of a 12' gondola,
that's 3' on center, you will find a Hot Spot in the center of the
fixture, and a Hot Spot in each of the four individual sections.
Another merchandising tip: Since most customers will reach for
product with their right hand, the position just to the right of the
center of the cross is an equally hot display area. This technique
is called "Hot Spot and One to the Right." It's the
perfect place to display items you don't want shoppers to miss.
Throw 'em a Curve
Any time you display product on a slanted shelf, you increase
what's known as the shopper's "Strike Zone." It's called
Visual Curve Merchandising and it increases the amount of product a
shopper sees in just one glance because they look up and down at a
display, as well as forward.
You may have great product gathering dust on flat shelves. Try a
new slant! Call your favorite fixture company and invest in
inexpensive plastic "fencing" that will hold the product
in place when you slant your shelves. Once you try this technique
you will be amazed at the difference it makes in presentation and
Pile it high and watch it fly? Not in your store! Instead choose
to engage shoppers and all their senses. Create an in-store
experience that's uniquely your own. And if you need help, we're
just a telephone call away!
(Note: Rich & Georganne will be the keynote speakers
at the NAMTA show, April 15, in Indianapolis. The topic:
"Retail Revolution: Straight Forward Solutions for Uncertain
Times." For a complete description of educational programming,
general trade show information, and online registration, visit www.artmaterialsworld.com/attendee.
Pre-registration ends March 15. For more info, visit www.artmaterialsworld.com
or call 704-892-6244.
To read previous columns, click on the titles in the right-hand
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