To figure out how to increase your merchandising sales, we need to tap into buyer behaviors. Through a better understanding of consumer decision-making, retailers can create more productive marketing strategies and product positioning.
The best digital marketing and merchandising practices will result in products flying off the virtual shelves. Brick-and-mortar businesses have a huge opportunity to take advantage of marketing in 3D by engaging all the senses of their boots-on-the-ground customers while using digital tools like shopper analytics.
We’ve all had shopping experiences where we couldn’t wait to get out of a store. Untidy interiors, poorly marked aisles, absent help, long lines, or the nonexistence of a staple item has gotten the better of most of us.
Stores need to start by creating environments that feel inviting from the moment a customer walks through the door. Let's “checkout” nine methods to optimize shoppers' in-store and online experiences to increase merchandising sales and to capture the data breadcrumbs they leave behind to personally market to them.
Make Every Day a Celebration
Imagine this. On a blazing hot day in early July, you escape a broiling asphalt parking lot to a cool and tidy vestibule where neatly stacked bags of charcoal form a semi-circle in front of a grill. You see an ice-filled picnic cooler displaying complimentary bottles of water and a bank of watermelons.
You needn’t go farther than the front end of the store to discover a designated cooler filled with ribs, burgers, and hotdogs flanked by buns, condiments, and ripe ears of corn. A quaint chalkboard sign displays special deals for ribs, fresh corn, and beverages.
You haven’t shopped for the 4th yet… and now they’re making it easy. Maybe you hadn’t even planned to celebrate, but you’re suddenly feeling festive – and your entire shopping list is laid out right before your eyes.
Stores can capitalize on cross-category merchandising 365 days a year. Cross-category merchandising is the practice of presenting products in groups that logically go together for the buyer. Your presentation could be in the form of your in-store merchandise displays as well as marketing strategies.
Themed displays can be seasonal or revolve around brands, sports, special events; feel free to get creative! The idea is to encourage buyers to envision multiple items fulfilling a need in their lives together, which encourages buying multiple products.
Success by Design
Store design and layout are integral to sales and, when done well, your merchandise will sell itself. Good design is a subliminal sales partner that makes people want to spend time in your store – and your store’s layout should lead them down the path to making multiple purchases.
Planograms help retail chains create uniform layouts across multiple stores. They can also help create or improve your store’s visual merchandising plan. A strategic planogram can motivate shoppers to purchase additional items or spot similar products to what they were looking for, potentially resulting in an upsell.
Your decor, including flooring, fixtures, and lighting, should tell a cohesive story that reflects your brand. The psychology of color can be implemented in your store’s decor package and choice of displays, signage, and ads.
Make Them Travel, Not Hunt
Your store layout should employ tactics like routing people past by certain displays, endcaps, promotions, and products to get to where they’re going, but that doesn't mean turning your floorplan into a maze.
Intuitive and efficient design – and good signage – are indispensable in marketing and can help you increase your merchandising sales. You want to entice, not aggravate, your customers.
If a shopper has to spend 10 minutes looking for a jar of peanut butter, they not only become frustrated, but they also have less time to stop and recognize all the other goodies in your store they "forgot" they needed. A circuitous route is ideal as long as the trail is scenic and clearly marked.
Smaller Stores & AI-Assisted Shopping
Research from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) found that millennials shop for groceries an average of 2.2 times per week.
Millennials also visit 5.9 stores on average to buy their groceries – above the 5.4 average for all consumers – suggesting they prefer multiple shorter shopping trips over one large haul. Stores with layouts that provide a more focused, data-driven experience are more likely to attract millennial shoppers and increase your merchandise sales.
Symphony Retail AI anticipates a decrease in aisles to make room for prepared foods and a "farmer’s market" in every store. Symphony also predicts 3D store-navigation technology, which will display real-time AI-enabled cost-reduction offers and allow shoppers to connect their shopping lists to store layouts on their mobile phones.
The Hunger Games
Science shows that food sampling leads to sales and customer loyalty.
Many busy people don’t want to go home and cook, but they want healthy meal options. Additionally, a large portion of Americans eat alone, so unless they enjoy cooking – and have the time – they’re less likely to do it just for themselves.
People have turned to expensive meal kit delivery services in recent years, and now grocery stores are getting into the game by making it easier for consumers to select exactly what they want at affordable prices.
When looking for ways to increase merchandising sales, consider diners who require convenience but demand healthier options than sodium- and preservative-filled frozen foods.
Display beverages and healthy bagged snacks near the meal kits and single-serving meals you sell. Despite age-old advice, people still shop when they're hungry and sometimes they need a place to dine between multiple errands. Consider catering to these customers with some version of in-store dining.
Listening & Avoiding Friction
Social listening is an opportunity to glean customer feedback from platforms like Facebook to help inform marketing decisions – but the friction we're talking about is created during the checkout process.
You wait in line, your disdain growing as the person in front of you has a cart piled high, and now they’ve hit a snag with a coupon. Cashiers are nearing extinction as self-checkout systems become more in-demand and increasingly available.
A consumer survey showed 59% of shoppers want cashier-less checkout. Frictionless checkout allows customers to scan items with their mobile devices as they shop and then pay for their purchases before walking out the door without having to wait in line for a cashier.
H-E-B foods and Amazon are two retailers offering this convenience and, as more stores go frictionless, you may need to rethink your resulting front-end floor plan when aiming to increase merchandise sales.
Know Thy Customer
It turns out that 79% of customers want personalized service. When a customer gets a coupon for $1.00 off their favorite tortilla chips in the mail, they feel seen and appreciated. Their spouse may not even know their favorite movie, but you get them – right down to their favorite brand of cereal and coffee creamer.
Loyalty programs are a powerful way for grocers to extrapolate marketing information from shoppers' purchasing habits while rewarding their customers with discounts and special offers. Knowing that customers who bought sparkling water also like to buy salmon allows you to market more meaningfully.
Using customer data analytics, you can track the effectiveness of your ads all the way to the point of sale. Data can help you understand who your customers are and what they want.
Be Where the Customer Is Looking
Your merchandising efforts should be effective online and in-store, and they should be desktop and mobile-friendly, too. SEO data shows that 88% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphones visit or call a store within a day – and nearly 46% of all Google searches are seeking local information.
Being connected provides the opportunity to offer BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store), a trend that’s gaining real momentum and attracts a larger pool of buyers. As shoppers increasingly choose BOPIS, your website and store app will play a more significant role in helping you increase merchandise sales.
Keep Things Fresh
From your produce to your displays, keep things fresh and in rotation, and don’t discount the importance of creating a mood. Remember that the more the market changes, the more some things stay the same. For instance, people still love the word “free” and BOGO is alive and well.
Think about a niche: a service or product your store can specialize in to attract customers. Maybe you can host a pop-up with different vendors or promote your own version of the avocado guy.
Have questions about how to maximize your most hard-to-move merchandise? Leave us a comment below and we'll do our best to help you out.