Retail merchandising – Improving the customer experience

Ahh… the shopping experience, so fun and rewarding.  Retail therapy is a proven fact.  Consumers love to shop and buy, and they will if the shopping experience is a pleasant one and guides them on a journey to purchase.  Too frequently however, retail escape is cluttered and confusing.  The product sought is muddled and mired in a wealth of communication, and eventually, the consumer becomes overwhelmed, raises the white flag, and walks out.

Retailers seem to have approached merchandising one of two ways – either focusing on a broad assortment encouraging the impulse purchase and creating a busy environment, or adopting the “clean store policy” making it easy on the eyes, hard to navigate.  There is middle ground though, a solution to feature multiple products, create inspiration and drive purchase, but in a pragmatic and engaging process.  And the key word is process.  Marketers love processes, matrixes, grids, and funnels – like the path to purchase, the consumer buying cycle, the loyalty loop, etc. But often, we get so excited about communication real estate and products that we push aside well-worn practices in favor of promoting depth and breadth.  All that product promotion can be as overwhelming as a circular on Thanksgiving Day.

Here are some simple principles that create a communication process for in-store merchandising. These principles can offer a more engaging and profitable environment by increasing conversion, up selling, and bringing shoppers back for a repeat experience:

  1. Announce – Let consumers know what you have to offer in the simplest and broadest terms.  What is your core competency? Printing photos? Photo Center.  Fixing watches?  Watch Repair.  Selling Tickets?  Ticket Booth.  This communication attracts consumers who may not know these products and services are available in your store.
  2. Amplify – Tell consumers more about what your product offers, the features and benefits.  Take this opportunity to UP SELL and INSPIRE – prints instantly, create photo books, watch repair in an hour – new watches for sale.  Tickets to shows AND exclusive merchandise from of the show.  Now that consumers are aware and considering a purchase, make it the best sales experience possible.
  3. Inform – Close the sale by providing, detail clearly and concisely.  Pricing should be easy to follow.  If you have other products to promote, present it in a relatable and compelling communication.  Consumers are ready to buy, but will abandon the purchase if they get frustrated.

So the process seems pretty simple – only three steps(!). Now where does the communication fit it?  Below are examples of in-store marketing tactics and messaging:

Announce – ceiling signs, cross-promotional collateral (shelf talkers, stickering), department signs.  Messaging: define the destination and make the destination intriguing

Amplify – backwall signs, countertop signs.   Messaging: claims, product assortment, inspiration – end benefits, promotions, special offers

Inform – brochures, sales associates, pricing lists, QR codes/links to informational websites, samples.  Messaging: pricing, education on product benefits, instructional – how to use

Below is an example of an in-store environment, from a retail partner who provided us with the opportunity to apply these principles to its photo center.

Before:StoreBefore 

After (rendering): after2

after1

Key Improvements:

Announce:

  • Disruptive branding that defines space and creates a store within a store destination
  • Clear department name
  • Destination definition

Amplify:

  • Backwall features promotional messaging, menu pricing, and samples
  • Front counter image offers lifestyle/inspirational images and additional product information
  • Counter top sign features special offer

Inform:

  • On kiosk signage and UI provides additional product information, educational and instructional content

The principles, applied to a larger in-store footprint, can be applied to a countertop merchandiser just as easily.  There might be a more selective approach on what key points of communication are conveyed, but if you follow the communication process consumers will engage and you will be rewarded.

3 thoughts on “Retail merchandising – Improving the customer experience

  1. I just returned from photo shoot in France and dropped my polarizer filter in the Seine….so while I was in Giverny in Monet’s Garden for several days, I took a side trip to Vernon to a camera shop to replace the filter and there I saw a Kodak kiosk set-up, smiled and took a few photos. Now I am back in the USA and prepping for my October 2013 photography exhibition Ode to Kodak: past…present…future and gallery talk Saturday, October 19th at 2:30 on using film in the digital age. The fine art photography gallery is fotofoto gallery at 14 W. Carver St, Huntington. NY http://www.fotofotogallery.org

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