Fall 2016
Back to Basics By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle

Marketing and merchandising tips to help your store thrive

Foot traffic may be strong, inventory may be right and customer reviews online shout out that 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. Less disposable income among buyers and more competition among retailers have put these merchandising tricks out of date and as a result, out of touch with what merchants need to do in order to get customers to spend in their stores.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 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. 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.

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.

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.

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, signage is a useful tool.

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.

Marketing old school  

Merchandising will always be among the most powerful ways you can support your store, but merchandising alone won’t get customers into your store. Marketing is a constant must that needs to be added to your business consistently. The question, of course, remains: how do you do this? To start, do not ignore these key areas in which you have to be engaged regularly:

Social media. Rather than just sell, sell, sell via these outlets, offer interesting facts, insight or ideas that pertain to your retail space. Share recipes if that makes sense, offer trivia on Thursdays and introduce new products every Monday so your customers get used to discovering what’s new in your store as the week begins.

Email marketing. Did you know that email marketing is the number one driver of e-commerce sales? Email marketing is a key player in bringing sales to physical stores, as well. Keeping this in mind, identify no less than once every other week — and as often as once a week — where you share relevant store promotions, news and product details via email.

In-store events. Special events have been going on since stores first came to life. Small or large, special events that take place in your store should be promoted via email marketing, social media and of course, in-store to all customers leading up to your event.

Community initiatives. Does your community have seasonal events that may welcome stores to get involved? Or how about your local youth sport teams, do they need sponsors or supporters? Don’t overlook chambers and community groups.

Finally, remember that running and operating a retail store has been something millions of folks have been doing for thousands of years. Take it back to the basics to help your store stand out among the competition and ultimately, gain more sales along the way, as well.


Nicole Leinbach Reyhle

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the founder and publisher of Retail Minded, as well as the co-founder of the Independent Retailer Conference. She is the author of "Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business" from McGraw-Hill and writes a regular column for Forbes. Visit www.retailminded.com, or follow @RetailMinded on Twitter and Facebook.com/RetailMinded.

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