I Can’t Sell Visual Merchandising!

Since retailing began 3,000 years ago there has been a constant struggle over the space trade-off between product density and selling aids. Of course there is no one size fits all answer to this trade off.

However, there are two important considerations. Firstly, the only thing that matters is sustainable sales and profit growth. Secondly, retail is a never-ending process of trial and error.

Visual merchandising has the potential to drive higher unit sales, lift margins, increase basket size and stimulate repeat purchase. It is not there to make things look pretty. It is a highly effective productivity driver and one that is actually more important to get right that media advertising. The reason for this is simple. It affects customer purchase decisions when and where they are making them – in the store at the time of purchase.

But many a great retailer knows, you can’t sell the product if it’s not on the floor. So product density is important.

I have a personal mantra in retail consulting. Don’t waste your time doing anything that can’t be measured. Right now your retail mix produces a result. If you want a better result, you need to change something – after all, improvement doesn’t happen by itself. But any change has a cost – energy, capital, time. It therefore has to produce an improved result which justifies that cost. If it isn’t capable of producing a positive result or can’t be measured it makes no commercial sense to undertake the cost of change.

Balancing visual merchandising productivity measures and stock density trade-off is the same. Any change from what you are doing must be capable of measurement. Then it is a matter of the age-old retail cycle of 1. Insight; then 2. Innovate; then 3) Controlled Test; then 4) Measure & Learn; then 5) Refine & Systemise; and then 6) Rollout.

Finding a visual merchandising solution which attracts customer attention and recognition, provides compelling reasons to buy, is informative and cross-sells is a mixture of creativity, engaging communication and selling stimulus.

And for every product category in every retailer there is an improvement that can be made in creating a powerful balance between productive visual merchandising and product density. A balance that produces sustainable growth in sales and profit.

So what sales and profit lifts are you targeting and what is your plan to test new initiatives in product and visual merchandising support?