1. General Merchandising Principals. Packaging and display are key components to selling. Companies spend a lot of money to design new packages for products in an effort to increase sales. Elaborate and eye catching displays will promote increased sales of targeted items.
a. Product Display and Positioning. This factor is critical to sales.
(1) The POS system area is your prime selling location.
(a) Anything positioned next to the POS system can generate impulse sales.
(b) Do not get into the habit of thinking once something is placed on your counter it is to stay in that spot forever. You must freshen and change your selections from time to time.
(2) Rotate merchandise occasionally. Customers will notice items that they never knew Street Corner carries.
(3) Items placed at eye level get greater attention. Placing higher priced items at eye level will generate greater sales of that particular item.
(4) Never block a display or force a customer to have to hunt for an item.
(5) Keep displays clean, dust-free, organized and full.
b. “Dead” Inventory. There will be times when some merchandise won’t move well. Dead Inventory is like money laying around doing nothing and taking up space – do something with it!
(1) If a change in location does not clear out the slow moving items, a price reduction would be in order.
(2) Slow moving inventory should first be placed in prime locations.
(3) Sidewalk sales are a good way to clear out inventory.
(4) As suggested earlier, donating dead inventory is also another way of dealing with it.
(5) At some point, when certain items have not been sold, they must be written off and discarded.
c. Lighting. Well-lit displays have a positive effect on merchandise and how customers perceive a product. Dark areas are perceived as stale and dingy.
(1) It is especially important to have all areas of the store well lit.
d. Grouping. Grouping like items will create a greater visual impact.
(1) Display items in a vertical row, whenever possible, for optimum effect.
(2) It is important to have a clear break between different product categories. For example, if convenience items and snacks are on the same wall, a clear visual break between the two is necessary. Visual breaks help your customer find merchandise and prevent the store from having a cluttered appearance.
e. No Holes. A neat and fully stocked appearance must be maintained at product display (counter and wall) areas. Products should regularly be brought forward and have labels facing outward.
(1) It is not visually appealing to see empty merchandising spaces. Empty spaces make people wonder what is supposed to be there and give the impression that the store is low on inventory. Use back stock to fill in the gaps or spread out what is on display.
f. Impact. Using “Impact” to induce and improve sales can not be over emphasized. Customer purchasing choices are greatly influenced by what they perceive around them. A store with good lighting, attention grabbing displays and a wide variety of products will “encourage” a customer to purchases the items on display.
(1) The way in which items are displayed determines a customer’s perception. A store may have a lot of one item in stock, but the customer’s perception of that item’s availability may be skewed if the item in question is scattered throughout the store.
(2) The human eye cannot take in all that your Street Corner carries in just one glance. Unfortunately, one good glance is about all the customer makes time for. The general rule is: “If they don’t see it instantly, they assume you don’t have it.” That is why grouping and impact are so important. Using the concept of “Impact” in your merchandising will mean that merchandise will be spotted quickly and there will be the perception of your store being well stocked with a lot of variety.
g. Cleanliness. A store should be neat and clean in order to portray a positive image. Pricing labels should be affixed in a neat and orderly fashion. Damaged goods should be removed and returned to the vendor or reduced in price and sold.
(1) Dust and Debris. There is no greater negative impression in merchandising than to see dust or a dead bug on a display. This may sound humorous, but it happens. In too many cases, money and energy invested into merchandising is wasted because displays were not properly maintained.
(b) Dust is a constant problem and requires daily attention.
(c) It is not enough to dust shelves and clean counters; the merchandise itself must be dusted.
(d) Signage will also accumulate dust and must be cleaned frequently, along with vents and the tops of any fixtures and equipment.
(2) General Cleaning. A customer’s sense of your operation is formed very quickly in their visit to your store.
(a) Be mindful of the general cleanliness of all the components of your store. Glass tops, cases or windows must be cleaned. Sills and crevices must be kept clean. Maintain your floors and ceiling tiles. Do not allow a water-stained ceiling tile or a smudged glass counter to influence your customers negatively.
(3) Urban Markets with Kitchens. If your store is an Urban Market with a kitchen area that offers our fresh food service, a thorough cleaning of the food preparation is imperative. Fresh food service is closely inspected for sanitary code compliance and an unsanitary food prep area, refrigerator, oven, or any other fixture can be subject to violations that could ultimately shut down a store’s operation. Refer to any appliance manuals for cleaning guidelines and procedures, and follow them precisely.
h. Signage. Signage should be easy to read with just enough said to get the message across. Avoid wordy signs. Very few people stand still ong enough to read a lengthy and involved sign.
(1) Professional signs. It is best to use professionally made signs. Temporary signs could be computer generated but should not be used as replacements for permanent or long-term signage.
(a) Under no circumstances should a hand-written sign be used.
(b) If a vendor puts up a sign with a display or promotion, don’t wait for the vendor to remove the sign once the display is outdated or the promotion is over.
(2) “Less Can Be More.” Too many signs will clutter the store. We have all experienced walking past a store where merchandise was hidden behind a multitude of signs. This can actually limit, confuse or cancel the desired effect of your signage.
(a) Remove signs that are no longer needed.
(b) Avoid having too many signs in the store. Sometimes they can steal customer attention away from the merchandise.
(c) A few well-placed signs will serve you better than a cluster of ill-defined signs.
i. Vendor Display and “Overkill.” Displays provided by your vendors are typically large and bulky. They take up valuable floor and counter space that can create a visual or physical obstacle course in your store if you are not careful.
(1) Use these displays only when needed and only when their use will enhance the product.
(2) Like signage, vendor displays can be a bit too much. The principal of “less can be more” also applies here.
(3) Always keep in mind the small amount of space allocated to merchandise and make the most of what space is available.
2. Product Specific Merchandising
c. Soda (Pop) Bottles and Barrels. If there is a “chill” cooler in the front of your store (as opposed to your storage room) make sure it is always full.
(a) When stocking coolers during the day, rotate the stock and never put a warm bottle in front of a cold one. The customer does not want a warm drink.
(b) Keep fingerprints wiped off of the glass and keep the top of the cooler free from dust.
(2) Soda (pop) Barrels. If there is no “chill” cooler out front then a soda (pop) barrel should be in use.
(a) When using a barrel, take the time to place beverage bottles inside the barrel in an appealing manner and well surrounded with ice.
(b) If there is more than one soda (pop) barrel in use at the store, be sure that each one offers separate types of drinks or separate brands.
(c) Different varieties of offered drinks should be readily available to the customer.
(d) Water should be drained from the barrel daily. Drinks should never be allowed to float in melted ice water. Floating bottles do not look good and are against Health Department regulations.
(e) Stock should also be rotated at least weekly. Bottles from the bottom need to be brought to the top and sold.
(f) The inside of the barrel should be cleaned out monthly. An opportunity is presented during inventory (when all bottles need to be removed and counted) to clean out the barrel.
d. Hours of Operation. This may not seem like a merchandising subject, but knowing the target audience is the key to successful merchandising.
(1) Remember who our customers are. The employees in your building and its surrounding areas are the best Street Corner customers. For this reason, our stores typically open one to two hours before the public shopping hours and our stores typically stay open after public shopping hours, as well.
(2) The early hours will allow Street Corner employees ample time to make sure things are as they ought to be; coffee made, paperwork done and attention given to any other details that might not have been attended to the previous night.
(3) In shopping malls, early hours will allow you to catch “mall walkers” as an additional customer group.
e. Cigars. Cigars should be kept in a special cabinet or case known as a “humidor.” Individual cigars should be merchandised to allow customers the ability to touch, feel and smell the product.
(1) Cigars should be displayed in their boxes with the lids open.
(2) Temperature. The temperature should fall between 70 and 75 degrees consistently. A combination thermometer and humidity gauge should be placed inside the humidor to ensure that the proper conditions exist.
(3) Humidity. Humidity is the key to maintaining freshness in cigars. The general idea is to create a storage environment that is similar to that in which the tobacco was grown. The humidity level in your humidor should stay at 70 percent.
When purchasing a humidifier, choose one that uses a wick and cool circulating air, rather than a steam heat unit.
(4) Lighting. As in all displays, lighting is a key factor. The humidor should be well lit with no dark areas. Cigars should be rotated away from lighting. Light produces heat and will dry out cigars located close to it.