There’s more to retail merchandising than stocking shelves. Successful retail merchandising is really a holistic approach to offering what your customer wants to buy, at the time they want to buy it, at the price they want to pay for it, and in a way they want to purchase it. That requires thoughtful product selection as well as thoughtful product presentation.It’s tougher than ever to be a retail whiz because customers are better-informed and more demanding. They expect you to cater directly to them. Whether or not they decide to shop in your store (or ever return) depends on their entire experience, not just what you sell or the price.
While retail merchandising may seem easier for big operations with big budgets, the fact is that small stores have many advantages when it comes to connecting with customers and delivering that all-important exceptional, memorable experience.
Here are 7 things you can do in your small store to get it right:
- Design your store for maximum appeal: The fixtures you choose and how you arrange them set the stage for a great customer experience. Custom design ensures a unique, memorable look and the best use of your petite square footage.
- Make shopping easy: One proven way to do this is by providing product pairings that complement your big ticket items. This is suggestive selling at its most effective, and it applies no matter what you sell. Grouping related items shows customers how to use everything together and helps them envision doing that.
- Make shopping convenient: Multi-channel retailers now offer in-store pickup of online orders. Any small store with a website can do that. Or offer call-ahead service, with purchases ready for busy customers to zip in and pick up at an arranged time. (You could even run their package out to the curb for them.)
- Offer complementary services: No room to add a coffee shop to your tiny bookstore? Clear a small space for help-yourself hot, freshly-brewed coffee and cookies. It will encourage customers to linger and browse, and enhance your store’s ambiance with delicious scents.
- Bring shoppers together: Hosting product demonstrations or special showings establishes your store as a resource for like-minded customers.
- Go digital, but be smart about it: Before you invest in the next big tech thing, ask your customers if that’s a priority for them. Maybe they would prefer some other improvement. For example, they might like a touchscreen or mobile app they could use to look up product details, get special discounts, or redeem rewards. Asking and acting on customer opinions builds loyalty in ways less personal efforts cannot. Technology is ubiquitous now, but you need to know how your customers want to use it.
- Above all, know your customer: Use all the data at your disposal to study shopping behavior in your store and learn more about your best customers. But emphasize personal acquaintance, not just knowing their name when they come in, but targeting marketing offers and proactively making recommendations tailored just for them.
While inventory selection is what typically comes to mind when talking about retail merchandising, getting those products to fly off of the shelves is in huge part how you connect those products to the customer.