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Help Make a Merchandising Miracle

How does a once exemplary merchandising marvel slowly turn to cluttered chaos? It often happens gradually. You might not notice when one small piece slips out of place, but if left unchecked, more disorder will follow. That’s what has happened in the grill display below. It’s time to clean it up.

This year, Hardware Retailing is challenging you to improve your merchandising through some simple exercises. Look at the photo below on the left, decide what’s wrong or what could be improved, and then see the altered example for a review of some basic tenets of maintaining effective displays. It’s a great exercise for all employees.

Prevent the slow decline of your own merchandising by establishing some basic housekeeping habits. All employees should be trained to fix a problem as soon as they spot one. It might help to make a checklist of all the cleanup tasks that need to be done on a daily basis, such as removing trash, fronting product and straightening signage. Use the list to do an occasional walk-through audit of the store, and make sure no display suffers neglect.

1. Hide Your Work
As you’re restocking the shelves, don’t let packing totes and boxes sit out longer than necessary. Resist the urge to stash them somewhere on the salesfloor unattended instead of hauling them to the backroom. This goes for overstock, too. Keep these boxes out of the way and preferably out of customers’ sight. Boxes sitting in the aisle not only make the store look messy, but they are also a tripping hazard.

2. Cross-Merchandise
A grill is a great example of a display where you can easily merchandise multiple products. Look for items outside the immediate category that would make a natural add-on sale. If, for example, the grill was in your latest circular, pair it with nonadvertised items in the display. This technique can help your customer see the breadth of products you carry. It will also lead to add-on sales, usually with items that carry higher margins than the advertised product.

3. Read About It
When selling high-ticket items such as grills, it’s important to have product literature nearby. In addition to the knowledge your employees can provide, this literature can help answer questions customers may have about the product. Also use signage that compares similar products of different price points so customers can compare features and benefits. In order for customers to feel satisfied they’ve made the best decision, it’s important for them to know all of their options.

4. Face the Front
Merchandising isn’t something you set perfectly once and then forget. Customers like to pick up products and read the packaging, and they don’t always put them back the way they found them. To keep displays from falling into disarray, face and front products regularly. When product labels face the front, you are able to maximize the colorful packaging the manufacturer has developed. The products also look as if they belong, not dropped there by accident.

About Jesse Carleton

Jesse Carleton has visited independent hardware retailers, conducted original research on the industry and written extensively about the business of hardware retailing. Jesse has written for more than a dozen of NHPA’s contract publishing titles, all related to the hardware retailing industry. He also was instrumental in developing the Basic Training in Hardware Retailing courses now used by thousands of retailers across the country.

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