CounterIntel Visual Merchandising

Some store owners are lucky. Lucky in the sense that their in-store team is so proud of the brand they represent that they passionately get involved in their work to ensure that they’re literally living the brand at work.

They take the concept of being ‘brand ambassadors’ to the next level. Nike, Lush, Apple and Lego are some examples that aptly represent that zeal within their employees and that gets reflected when they take the floors at their respective stores.

It not only brings out the good in the brand and the people who represent it but also reflects well on the customers, hence positive sales figures.

Where visual merchandising is there to make sure that the store represents what its meant to, keeping the in-store team involved is the other ingredient needed to find the perfect blend and fusion to achieve equilibrium that leads to a healthy bottom line thanks to the increased footfall due to this combination.

Hence it’s imperative for store owners to not only give heed to this ideology of keeping their staff happy but also pragmatically implement it in a realistic way.

There’s one thing common in the brands’ success we’ve mentioned earlier in this post. These manufacturers have not only been successful in creating products that we love but actually they also focused on those people who would bring these products to the public in retail environment., essentially their true brand ambassadors.

The take away lesson for the retailers and visual merchandisers in this example is by focusing on their efforts to make the store look the par they also need to complement it by placing similar level of focus on engaging those responsible for bringing the brand experience to life.

Below are some tips for the visual merchandisers and store owners to achieve what we’ve emphasized upon in this post

  • Live and breathe brand culture
  • Define roles, responsibilities and expectations
  • Deliver engaging, practical, evidence-based learning
  • Create clear in-store policies to reduce complexity
  • Understand why getting it right matters

Keep these tips in mind when devising your store strategy and implement them accordingly and you have the magic formula of success.

 

Retail realities to plan merchandising strategies.

Executing an effective merchandising strategy doesn’t come without its own set of challenges. These challenges must be catered for not only right at that stage of planning but also during the execution phase.

These challenges vary in nature. One of the common problems merchandisers come across is lack of reporting and data. Sometimes it’s the lack of responsibility that gets in the way of a successful merchandising execution.

Sometimes it’s the merchandisers themselves who make the process that much more complex for themselves to execute it successfully. Cometh the busy shopping season and all these challenges become all the more difficult to tackle and resolve.

When it comes down to achieving compliance and the results are evaluated, many store owners struggle to meet the expectations.

One of the most common obstacles in a successful merchandising strategy is when a brand’s product goes missing from shelves or is incorrectly priced during key shopping times. That factor must be overcome in order to successfully implement what you’d planned at the beginning of the season.

Merchandising execution doesn’t get singled out on it’s own, it’s also interconnected with other things. Results of your merchandising execution influence everything from marketing budgets to supply-chain scheduling, sales results and customer experience.

In light of the above observations, some things must be kept in mind to avoid a failed merchandising strategy.

Always keep an eye on what your competitor’s up to. The real battleground is in-store. It’s where the customer experiences your product as the benefits, pricing, etc., of each option are laid out in front of them. Consider testing different ways to stand out from the crowd.

It’s always good to take help of technology when it comes down to merchandising. But you can’t totally depend on it. These tools don’t always take into account unexpected increases in consumer demand. Therefore, you need to expect the unexpected and have a plan in place to handle a change in circumstances.

All in all, a bit of extra preparation and all these hurdles in an effective merchandising strategy can be easily overcome.

How to increase sales with merchandising

Visual merchandising is one of the most important factors that can help a business generate desirable revenue. Those who fail to understand its effectiveness in bringing in more sales, in fact do end up having fewer sales.

Visual merchandising helps you develop a unique business identity and brand, differentiating yourself from your competition.

One must answer some fundamental questions before devising an effective visual merchandising strategy for their business. One of the topmost priorities to consider is to determine right at the beginning “Who is my target customer?”

The other important thing retailers must ask themselves is “What is my target customer looking for?”

By defining your target customer and identifying their likes, you can tailor your merchandising techniques to fit their tastes.

When actually putting visual merchandising in to execution, there are plenty of ways you can customized it according to your stores liking. One of the most important things is what color, or combination of colors, your theme would be made of.

The design element is of course the basic foundation upon which your entire visual merchandising strategy stands. It really depends what kind of ambience you want to create, and that would drive the selection of theme you’d go for.

When creating displays, try and order them in ‘three’. Many visual merchandising experts follow and preach the “Rule of Three” because not only does it catch the customer’s attention, it helps cement the product display in the customer’s mind.

For example, having three products side by side rather than just one. If you truly want to capture the attention of price-conscious customers, arrange items in order from good, better, and best value to the customer. This allows them to spot the items that have the best value to them quickly and thus make a quick purchase.

The rule of three really works because it creates asymmetry in the display. When people look at symmetrical and balanced objects, their gaze moves away quickly, whereas asymmetrical or unbalanced displays are more interesting to the eye.

So, try keeping this rule in your mind when you’re next adorning your store and we’re sure you’ll reap the benefits.

Visual merchandising Part 3

Shun Yin Lam (2001) found out that the effects of store environment on emotions, cognition and shopping behaviors differ across countries owing to differences in culture and adaptation level of environmental stimuli, and the effects of store environment on service quality assessment and shopping behaviors vary with consumers’ shopping experience with a store.

It’s imperative that your store’s physical appearance stays fresh. Some store owners often either neglect to pay that extra bit of attention on how their store front appears or become too stingy on investing that zing into the exterior. Remember, the store front is the first bit where your potential customers lay their eyes on and if that’s not attractive then you’re risking the customer not casting a second eye towards your store let alone come and shop inside. So make sure you allocate extra budget to develop your store’s facade and external appearance.

Once you take care of the exterior façade, the next thing you need to ensure is to maintain the good look of your store. The marquees, awnings, signage, banners, entrance and landscapes are the things and areas you need to consider. One thing that will really set you apart from your other competing stores is the color scheme. You need to make sure that your store is significantly different from others in the high street. You can use significant color or unique carvings and moldings that represent your business.

Damages need repair in stores. It’s a common problem that’s faced by many store owners. Shelves, showcases, racks and other POS materials should be well maintained. If any of these get damaged, it should be either replaced or at least repaired so that it serves the purpose fully well or at least be decorated accordingly so that it doesn’t look frail.

Take a good detailed look at your store walls. Do they need a repaint? If so then do not leave it till late. Repaint those walls. Look at the ceiling and make sure it’s the way it should be. Remove torn stickers and wash the artificial flowers and fabrics on your display.

These are all important bits not only to remember but to be implemented on a regular basis so that your store doesn’t look like a haunted house but on the contrary looks fresh and welcoming.

Until next time when we provide you with more tips and advice on how to keep your store look better, keep your store fresh and your business healthy.

Visual merchandising part 2

(This is part 2. Part 3 next month)

In the first part of our merchandising series we had created a preface to how you could capitalize on making your store atmosphere more welcoming. In this second part we would break it down for you further.

Let’s talk about store themes. Most of the time people limit themselves to four themes, mostly: Winter, spring, summer and fall. Ideally a store should have a fresh theme every month to be inviting for new and returning customers. But it could be unmanageable at times for the store management to cope with it. In that case, at least six themes a year should be targeted.

There are plenty of occasions and events available round the year to tag your theme with, events like Fathers’ Day, Mothers’ Day, Teachers’ Day, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries festivals, and other celebrations and holidays. These special days should be sufficient for you to find at least six themes a year.

You can keep the same themes the next year too but bring in freshness by tweaking the display by making it distinct from previous year by introducing new decorations rather than using the same items you used last year, this way it would look boring and dull, so avoid it completely.

You can also introduce schemes within your themes. For example, let’s say you have a Christmas theme. You can introduce a White Christmas Window, one Toys Kingdom Window and one Christmas Party Window as schemes to go within your main theme. But make sure that you avoid using the same material for your schemes.

Be dynamic. Even interactive. How do you do that? By being digital. These days store presentations are not just merely limited to displaying your products neatly across the store. These days more digital installations are applied to not only make your stand out but also look trendy and hip.

Integrating printed materials, multi-media, interactive installation and sensory input in your display are known to be dynamic techniques and are becoming the visual merchandising trends, especially in the coming years because of the fast moving digital civilization.

Think about it, in this digital age it’s hard to capture people’s attention away from their digital devices. They’re either walking past stores fast or just quickly glance at the display. In this fast paced environment you can throw an incentive that cannot be turned down. Be interactive. By this, we mean, have an interactive window where customers can customize features on some products, before paying their own-designed items at the checkout counter. It always works.

So in this second installment of our series of blogs on merchandising we’ve shared some more goodies on how you can improve on your existing store displays. Watch this space as we come back with yet another entry full of tips and ideas.

Visual merchandising

(This is part 1. Part 2 next month)

Visual merchandising’s (VM) reach is expanding whereas it’s not just limited to more conventional and traditional ways followed by merchandisers for decades. It’s a false conception that it’s only limited to fashion and clothing stores.

Visual merchandising encircles everything from the façade of the store to how the products are displayed within the retail space, be it a departmental store or a specialty store.

Visual merchandising is not just limited to make the store look better. It’s more than that. It encapsulates the concept of making the customer enjoy their experience that leads to them being comfortable to return back to your store and eventually become your loyal customer. That in turns make more sale and that’s one element of visual merchandising that’s often ignored while implementing it.

Nobody wants to see their store display a messy look. Retailers not only want to make sure that their windows display cool stuff but they would love to have the interior of their store designed perfectly to capture the senses of their customers.

One thing that greatly influences visual merchandising is the atmosphere and the environment of your store. According to Dunne and Lusch (2005), store environment is an important element in retailing given that 70% of the purchase was an impulse buying or unplanned purchases.

A critical review on the effects of store environment on shopping behaviors conducted by Shun Yin Lam (2001) shows that there are many factors and elements to consider on having a good store environment. These elements include music, color, scent, lighting, visual information, consumer density and much more.

In this first part of our merchandising series blogs we have elaborated how visual merchandising works and what elements it hinges upon. In our next part of the series we’ll fill you in more on visual merchandising tips and ideas. We will provide you with tips that are certain to get expected results. We will explain what we mean by having a good environment in your store. So, to stay updated with the latest trends in visual merchandising watch this space for our series of visual merchandising blogs.

Retail Tips

SIMPLICITY, SIGNAGE, SORTING: SIGNS OF SOARING SUCCESS

Retailers have been scratching their brains for ages on this most fundamental of questions: What makes the most impact on our sales and customers?

The way a customer interacts with your products in-store obviously means a lot in how this interaction will yield and convert into a sale. There are important elements and factors need to be remembered when planning the layout of your store and the way merchandise is displayed. For a wholesome user experience there must be some fundamental inclusions in your floor plan.

Engage them. Yes. Engagement is the key. Your customer needs attention and interactivity. The more you incline towards engaging your customers the more it inclines towards turning into a sale. Engage them by a variety of means; try to find out what exactly they’re after and how you could help them find the perfect match. Suggest, recommend. Encourage them to experience the item, ask them to feel and touch it and let them find out themselves whether it’s the right choice for them. Do a demo in front of them. Engage. Engage. Engage. Yes, that’s the right word.

You see, what it does is, even if what the customer is experiencing is not exactly what they’re after, but if you’re persistent, probability says there’s a high chance that eventually they will settle for something that takes their fancy. And that’s the power of interaction, interactivity and engagement.

Right assortment of inventory plays a major role for customer to decide with ease rather than getting confused with disorder. Make your store in such a way that your products are within easy reach of your customers where they can touch and pick up products easily. There are stores, where, when you walk in, you feel overwhelmed, because it’s the intensity of display. It’s crowded. Not pleasing for the eyes. Distraction hits the customer full on. Your customer is confused as to where to set their eyeballs. There’s too much information for their brain to process. The most basic rule of merchandising, keep your display appealing, your products displayed clearly, approachable for your customers to touch.

Take a look around your store and identify your 3 newest items. Are they easy to find? Would your customers notice them as new to your store assortment? Your goal should be to have clear views of your product that are not distracted by other product or displays. Instead, your displays should flow naturally and lead your customers throughout your store.

Don’t do all the talking yourself, let the store speak. But how? Signage. Yes. Let the store do the talking. Make it easy for your customers to navigate the store themselves. Sometimes they might feel intruded. Let them have a walk for themselves in-store guided by the signage.

Keep your store well maintained. Don’t let it fall into an out-of-date place. Nobody wants to visit a store that looks like it hasn’t been kept up properly. All in all, it’s simplicity, signage and sorting, the signs of soaring success.

Importance of Merchandising

Marketing, rent, inventory, utilities, staffing, etc. are ‘serious’ expenses, while merchandising and display are ‘frills’. You couldn’t be more wrong!

There are more choices out there for consumers than ever before. In this cut-throat environment, how will you grab your share of customer attention? Well, you’ve secured that highly sought, competitive location with the most footfalls but how would you make your customer stop at the front of your shop and be inviting enough to urge them to walk in? Even if you manage to get your potential customers set their foot inside your store, how would you manage to make sure that they return? Even after all that expenditure on the so-called ‘serious’ funding, would it bring uniqueness to your store?

Great location, part-time staff, insurance, accountant, advertising, sure you have all that, but what happens if your store fails to meet the expectation of your potential customer? This is where merchandising wins hands down.

More importantly so, merchandising and display are priority expenses for the small business owner who is just starting up. Even for a retailer operating on a shoestring – merchandising and display are an important part of the marketing plan, and should have a reasonable budget allocated.

You can have the best products on the planet in-store but if you have doors and windows covered with posters do you really think after spending all that money on those ‘serious’ expenses that your customer would come inside? Imagine a store with hand lettered signage and untidy display, what kind of message does that send to the potential customers walking by? Lack of lighting and untidiness sends out the wrong message. This is where retail merchandising really speaks volumes.

If your store looks like a bargain place then your customers would expect bargain prices, no matter how good your products are. Just because of that display, they may even think that your products are poor quality. Obviously it has nothing to do with the product itself but actually is a result of poor display. And that tells you a lot about the importance of merchandising.

Merchandising is more than simply the arrangement of products on the shelf. It is an integral component of the business image. It should be considered when you design your logo, business cards, brochures, letterhead, packaging, and product mix. Including merchandising in your marketing plan and budget makes sense. It can make the difference between selling a product or having it sit on the shelf.

Retail Counter Displays

There are many ways visual merchandising plays its role for retailers to catch their customers’ attention to help them make the right buying decision. The last point where a customer comes to after having made the purchase is the checkout counter.

Retailers all over the world use different executions of visual merchandising at the counter to maximize sales as well as give more options to the buyer right towards the end of their shopping. Some retailers get it spot on while some not only fail to execute it properly but in fact get it completely wrong.

The way you carry out retail counter displays decides whether your customer would be more inclined to give in to the impulse or get irritated and put off. There are some Do’s & Don’ts that must be adhered to when it comes down to retail counter displays.

Your retail display should really work in your favour, not the other way round. First thing you’ve got to remember is not to overload the counter with as many products as you can fit in. There’s a purpose for the counter as well as for the shelves and that purpose must be kept in mind. Shelves are for stocking while a counter is merely for checkout purposes which can subtly be utilized for impulse buying.

Like it or not, when a customer gets to the register they don’t want to find themselves browsing through a lot of more products. They don’t really appreciate that they’re given yet another ‘choice’ to make, they’re done with it. All a customer wants to do at the counter is to pay for their products and get on with their lives.

However, a great counter display, as part of your overall visual merchandising strategy, can interrupt them and get them to buy.

On the counter, try to put just one or two products, not more than that. It gives the customer a rather easy decision to make. Yes, or no. Try to have a product that has a universal appeal to it, one that could be used by any age group.

Try to choose a product with a low price tag. Your customers won’t mind dropping a $10 bill without noticing. Keep your counter display fresh and change it every week. Timing is the most important thing. Remember, if it’s spring, the item on the counter must relate to it.

When you put up a signage for your counter products, remember to keep them short, sweet and creative. A sign that reads ‘$2 each’ won’t do it for you, try and be more creative.

You’ve done the hard work of having converted a browser to a customer, maximize their trust with a compelling counter display. It will take some work, but the rewards are higher profits and higher KPIs.

Celebrating 20 Years of Merchandising Excellence

April 16th marked the 20th anniversary of Counter Intelligence Merchandising. Headquartered in Concord, Ontario, the company has established itself as an expert in the Canadian retail industry and a trusted partner to retailers looking for merchandising solutions.

The team behind Counter Intelligence take pride in their projects. With their ability to increase the brand visibility and sales volume of their clients, it is unsurprising that the company’s list of achievements has grown over the past two decades.

The home office crew, many of whom have been part of the company since the early days, celebrated the milestone with cake and plenty of smiles. The company’s Founder and President, Barry Reznick, attributed their success to their dedicated employees and merchandisers as well as their valued customers. “We look forward to many more years serving the retail industry in Canada with best in class merchandising services and support!” Reznick optimistically added.

Counter Intelligence is more than just about proper product placement and inventory management. They are also about giving back to their community through their support of The Ride to Conquer Cancer. To date, they have raised over $350,000 for the Princess Margaret Hospital to fund vital cancer research, patient treatment and care.