Location, Location, Location!
As a small brick and mortar retail small business owner there is no doubt that you spent many an hour locating the perfect location for your store. Cost, of course, was a huge influence, but you also searched far and wide to find the most optimal location with the best answers to questions such as:
- Where will I get the most foot traffic from customers within my target market?
- Is there enough parking to make it convenient for people to shop at my store?
- Do other nearby businesses attract my target market?
- Is the storefront attractive to my customers?
In the final analysis you needed to find a location that offered the greatest opportunity to create profit. Unfortunately, many small retail owners don’t place the same importance when it comes to finding the greatest location when it comes to product placement in their stores - because placement is a major factor of profitability.
Placement, Placement, Placement!
What we’re talking about is merchandising. Now, merchandising can take many forms – anything from free samples to pricing – but, for the brick and mortar small retailer, product placement can be the key component when it comes to increasing sales.
Since the goal of product placement is to increase sales, it makes sense to approach product placement strategically. This is referred to as “visual merchandising.”
Many retailers are familiar with the concept of a “planogram.” A planogram is simply a visual diagram detailing where every product in a store is placed. Big box retailers use in-house or hire consultants who specialize in both visual merchandising and planogram creation – either way this represents a cost out of the reach of most small retailers.
But you store’s planogram doesn’t necessarily have to be developed using expensive software or hiring upscale consultants. A planogram can be as simple as a hand drawn schematic; it can even be photographs of how and where products are to be placed. What is most important isn’t whether or not you digitalize your planogram – it’s understanding some general concepts of visual merchandising.
Eye Saw it First
First and foremost is to always place products that represent the greatest profit potential at eye level. The reason is simple: this is where the customer looks first. Additionally, it can be helpful to place these products to the right of the shelf or section as research shows that customers generally scan from right to left when making buying decisions.
Be Sure to Focus
Small retailers often are specialty retailers whose visual merchandising is concentrated on creating product displays. Visual displays need to be visually pleasing, and the first step for creating attractive product displays is similar to advice given when decorating a room – every display should have a focal point. This is easily achieved by being sure to place the focal product in your customer’s immediate line of vision and then place complimentary products around it.
Keep Your Balance
Balance is an important component of effective visual merchandising. For instance, say you’re store sells a wide variety of different products. Your goal is to create a display that is both organized and made up of products that coordinate each other. It isn’t necessary for products in a display to be complimentary in usage (such as shampoo, conditioner, and other hair products.) For instance products can be coordinated using complimentary colors and shapes even though the products themselves are not complimentary to each other.
It’s OK to be a Little Spacey
Using different patterns when placing products also adds to the visual interest that gets your customer’s attention. For example, displaying items from larger/taller to smaller/shorter. Geometric patterns, such as displaying items in a “V” or circular shape also create visual interest.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Common Sense
However, when following these general guidelines you always want to use common sense. For instance, you don’t want to place heavy items on a top shelf as they can fall and even cause injury to your customers. You should also refrain from placing very small items on top shelves as they are difficult to see.
Where individual displays are located on the floor of your store is just as important as the displays themselves. It is also only common sense to place “best-selling” and “featured” products where they will create a focal point within the store as a whole, or within a section of the store.
Don’t Store - Sell
The above guidelines represent a few of the basic building blocks of visual merchandising. However, if you aren’t currently leveraging visual merchandising within your store, implementing even these few guidelines can make the difference between selling products versus storing products.