With so much choice in grocery and foodservice stores today, retailers have to find creative new ways to vie for shoppers’ attention. That’s where clever retail merchandising comes in.


As Natural Insight puts it, retail merchandising refers to “the way retailers, brands, and other product companies make their merchandise available in stores.” And although traditionally associated with in-store promotions, today, merchandising channels transcend brick-and-mortar stores into consumers’ daily digital lives. From in-store displays to online campaigns, effective product merchandising is essential for winning in the food retail market.


The National Watermelon Promotion Board holds an annual contest to celebrate food retail merchandising achievements. This year’s winners maximized the power of retail merchandising in the following categories:

  • Use of print, online, or digital platforms
  • Visual merchandising
  • Category visibility
  • Point-of-sale materials
  • Messaging of nutritional benefits
  • Recipes and selection education

The contest winners showed originality with their marketing efforts and an understanding of what would appeal to their customers. Here’s how you can implement these categories in your own store for successful retail merchandising.

Marketing: Use of Print, Online & Digital Platforms

With people spending more and more time online, retail merchandising is no longer only the domain of in-store promotion and weekly printed flyers. Successful retailers recognize the need to integrate both physical promotions and digital ones – whether that be through a website, via email newsletters, or on their social media channels – into their marketing practices.


For example, the grand prize winner of the watermelon board contest created not only an awesome watermelon display in the produce section of the store but also a fun and educational component to accompany it on Instagram. A digital marketing component is a great way to reach potential customers you may not have otherwise reached with your in-store display.

Visual Merchandising: An Appealing Display of Goods

While online grocery shopping is growing in popularity, Supermarket News stipulates that nearly two-thirds of Americans still prefer to do their groceries in a physical store rather than order online. To facilitate an optimal buying environment, retailers should create continuity in the shopping experience by providing signage throughout the store to gently guide the shopper.


An inefficient use of space can irritate shoppers, resulting in shorter stays and ultimately hurting the bottom line. When people feel relaxed – in a clean store layout, for instance – they’re more likely to increase their spend. Visual signage is an important part of merchandising campaigns, but keep signs short and visually appealing; we suggest more images and fewer words to make the most of shoppers’ limited attention spans.

Category Visibility & Display: Showcasing a Featured Product

Grocery shoppers are accustomed to seeing featured products on end-aisle displays. A good way to increase sales is to display not only the featured item but also a related premium product on the shelf above.

Excellence Industries Tips & Tricks for Successful Food Retail Merchandising

For example, if you display an inexpensive brand of coffee that is on sale at eye level, you would also include an organic, fair-trade, more expensive brand above it. There will always be customers who opt for the name brand product over the generic brand, so by offering a choice, you’re putting yourself in a position to increase your sales compared to if you’d simply displayed the sale item.

Point-of-Sale Materials: Effective Signage or Display Near Checkout

There’s no underestimating the value that point-of-sale merchandising can add to your bottom line. In fact, up to 70% of purchases are unplanned.


Point-of-sale displays should be bold and bright – your goal is to entertain and entice your customers. Consider also including imagery that shows the product in use so shoppers can’t resist picking it up when their guard is down at the end of their shopping trip.


Health: Messaging of Nutritional Benefits

Health and wellness are big business. Shoppers will scan a product for its health information, and whether or not they find it can influence their purchase decisions. Most product labels are tiny and hard to read, and your customers don’t have the time or patience to stop for that long while grocery shopping.


You can make things easier for them by featuring the health information on a display next to the product or a decal on the refrigerated cooling unit in which it’s stored. Product comparison charts are also effective in prompting the decision to buy. When people feel informed, they are confident in taking action.

Education: Recipes or Other Learning Opportunities

Shoppers love interactive experiences, and recipe demonstrations or educational opportunities are fantastic ways to get their attention. If people don’t know how to use a product, they aren’t likely to buy it. Providing recipes for new or unique foods is a simple and effective way to boost sales and engage your customers. Recipes are also highly shareable on social media and encourage people to post photos of their end results, thus doing the advertising for you.

Brands and product categories have to compete for buyers’ eyes and dollars, and data helps shine a light on what does and doesn’t appeal to customers when it comes to displaying products. Yet, mastering the intangible je ne sais quoi of a retail display in a way that influences a buying decision is truly an art form developed through practice (and with the help of a few handy tips and tricks) that can make or break a store.


A product’s appeal is linked to the way it’s displayed. Contact us today if you’d like help displaying the products in your freezer or refrigerated cooling unit!