An effective merchandising strategy is the best way to convert casual shoppers into loyal evangelists. It’s your key to defend against mass slippage and keep shoppers coming back to your store again and again.
Shoppers want what they want and if they can’t find it at your store, they have virtually unlimited choices. Perception matters. From their perspective, does your store have a good selection and reasonable pricing? Your merchandising strategy is the first impression shoppers have of your store—make it a good one!
The secret to success for most items is that they are easily found by consumers. Shoppers can’t buy your products if they can’t find them.
“Discipline-at-shelf” means having a consistent merchandising plan for every category’s product assortment to meet your customer’s needs and wants. Having the right product assortment, or product mix, is what drives sales and consumer satisfaction. It keeps them coming back. The objective is to maximize your space to sales for each item, category and for the entire store.
An effective merchandising plan with a good assortment will help you accomplish these goals. This ensures that your core shoppers will find the items they’re looking for in each of your stores. It also gives your stores familiarity, making them easier to shop.
You need to have a balance of top-selling items in the market as well as a good selection of items that are unique and will differentiate you from your competition. I recommend that no more than 80% of your product assortment include top-selling items in the market. And those top-selling items should be sold at a competitive price. This communicates your commitment to having a good selection with competitive products. Remember: Shopper perception matters.
The remaining 20-plus percent of items should be goods that shoppers can only get from your store. You can then make up your margin on your unique items.
It’s also important to ensure that you have the right quantity of products on the shelf. Not having enough of any item can lead to out-of-stocks; having too much will limit your selection and increase your inventory costs. Leverage your brand partners to ensure that you have enough product on hand to support everyday sales as well as incremental promotions.
Another benefit of an effective merchandising strategy is your ability to successfully promote brands and items across every store. Brands want assurance that their promotions will be consistent across stores. This will maximize their ability to drive sales and shopper traffic in your stores.
When you can guarantee market coverage for a promotion, you can ask the brand for more money to promote within your chain. Additionally, you will also be able to take advantage of large order price breaks offered by brands and typically available to only large retailers—yet another win for you.