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Basic merchandising tips to help your store thrive

By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle | Special to Party & Paper Retailer

Foot traffic may be strong, inventory may be right and customer reviews online shout out you’re your store is stellar. Despite these strong attributes, however, sales don’t always add up to what you want them to be. So what’s a retailer to do?

To help lead your business to retail success, consider how bringing yourself back to the basics can help. Marketing, merchandising and management are each key areas to review, each offering insight and opportunities to why your store may or may not be thriving. 

Ready to kick your store into gear? Let’s take it old school with some modern twists, beginning with your merchandising.

Basics of merchandising

It used to be that dynamic displays and eye-catching windows would lure customers to stores and help push sales all day long. Less disposable income among buyers and more competition among retailers have made these merchandising tricks out-of-date and, as a result, out-of-touch with what merchants need to do in order to get customers to spend in their stores. To change this pattern, consider how your merchandising can once again lure customers to spend, enhance their shopping experience and make your job as a merchant much easier.

To begin, identify and then get rid of any store clutter that makes your displays too complicated, less approachable and difficult for employees to update easily. In other words, simplify your merchandising efforts. Next up, you should aim to create a store environment that allows for frequent inventory changes and good-looking displays without a lot of fuss on your end. Some key things to consider include the following:

Use practical fixtures to showcase your products. You can be creative and introduce untraditional fixtures such as galvanized metal buckets or crates created into shelving, but avoid anything that becomes unapproachable and intimidating for customers to engage with. You also want to ensure your fixtures adequately hold inventory. That’s the goal after all, isn’t it?

Double expose items to increase the chance of their exposure and their purpose. In any retail environment, you have to assume not every item will be viewed by every customer in every store visit. Introduce multiple merchandising efforts among key items that will help increase their likelihood of being seen and experienced by customers. As a result? A strong chance of sales.

Change your displays regularly to keep things interesting and fresh. While this can be time intense, it doesn’t have to be if you have efficient displays and fixtures in place. Changing inventory often makes your overall store experience more fresh and exciting for frequent customers — even first-time customers benefit from seeing your best inventory front and center.

Provide adequate lighting in your store and on your displays. There’s nothing worse than hard to view displays and poorly lit stores. Customers need to see to buy — plain and simple. Make it easy for them.

Use colorful signage that doesn’t get lost among your inventory. You can’t speak all the details you should be sharing about your store and inventory to customers, so let signage help you. From sharing product details to offering store return details to offering interesting store facts and more, signage is a useful tool to help you communicate with customers more effectively.

Finally, make merchandising a priority everyday versus once a week or every other week. A few changes a day can lead to stronger overall merchandising habits and ultimately, sales as well.  

— Nichole Leinbach Reyhle is the founder of RetailMinded.com, co-founder of the Independent Retailer Conference and author of “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business.” Reyhle has a regular column with Forbes.com and was the spokesperson for Small Business Saturday in 2015. Follow Reyhle on Twitter @RetailMinded and at Facebook.com/RetailMinded.

Originally posted Monday, Oct. 3, 2016