How to create a display which sells more


Why merchandise?

  • We’re all busier, so we have less time to shop.
  • Wider range of customers since men are shopping, and we’re all getting older
  • The “Information Generation” wants to know about your products
  • We have high expectations, and less money
  • It’s hard to build loyalty, we we’ll love you if you do
  • We want you to be different from Tescburys.

What can you do which is good / different?

There are 4 Touch points where you can make an impact. If you’re standing in your shop with an idle few minutes, pick on and think how you could improve it:

  • People & behaviours
  • Products and services
  • Your communications
  • Your environment

What are the benefits of good merchandising?

  • Encourages customers to stay longer
  • Draw attention to key products
  • Inspires customers to try new things
  • Encourages cross-selling
  • Keeps your retail environment fresh and interesting
  • Encourages repeat custom
  • Increases sales

Attract customers to you

  • Be visible
    • What do customers see on approach
      • What is the first impression? Make it better.
      • Use colour, light, smell, movement
    • Be colourful / minimise colour / group colour
    • It’s “Retail theatre”

Create the right environment

  • Use happy language, e.g. not ‘no dogs allowed’, but place a bowl of water outside and make a ‘Dog park’
  • Own your space
  • Pretend your inviting your inlaws to dinner
  • In your window, promote yourself first, others second. (i.e. put your public notice board inside)
  • Be clean, well presented
  • Create the right impression
    • Make it easy for people. Give them space and time.
    • Zone your produce (eg veg, fruit, dry goods, hygiene) to save thinking.
  • Create a transition space when they come in to allow them to adjust.
  • Our natural propensity is to head left
  • Rotate the produce key areas with special offers / seasonal promotions
  • Change only a few things and you change your environment
  • People move towards space. Create space and you create flow.
  • Use people’s eye-line - vary product heights, if you have a key thing which attracts people will browse that ‘column’
  • Face your customer
  • Draw a floor plan and keep track of where people pick up from. That’s there you should put high margin products.

Promoting your products

  • There are pull products (staples which will  be hunted down, eg loo roll, milk) which don’t need promotion. Then there are push products which you want to sell of them: local, seasonal food, perhaps with higher margins.
  • Highlight the provenance of the product to tell a story about it. We love stories.
  • Create a seasonal area - it could be just a small table but whatever’s fresh and new: put it there.
  • Group linked products -  what can you cross-sell? Eg all the ingredients for a recipe. This also allows you to demonstrate a speciality, eg selling the right herbs with the right meat.
  • Use props.. but wisely. Less is more, and make them relevant.
  • Use posters / printed / written information. Make a template and use it. Using picture frames is a great way to make something look smart, or using brown paper bags and a marker.
  • People come to independents for their personality: communicate it and use it.

Simple ways to sell

  • Smell, touch, taste. Open up boxes, provide samples!
  • Show things in volume, people perceive it as being less expensive.
  • Provide product emphasis with space, packaging, its height, and lighting
  • Educate a little - explain how things are used, why, when.. give opportunities for people to feel good, learn things, and become more informed. We like knowing.
  • If you can see it, you’ll buy it. (Ok that’s not always true, thankfully, but it’s a good mantra).
  • Place summary displays above / near  the bulk display. e.g. imagine a a tier of shelves. One shelf is a little display like you might lay out the breakfast if your mother-in-law is coming. All the other shelves are stacked with varieties of jams, breads, and cereals. Yum.
  • Highlight the features and benefits on tickets, it’s great that a cheese is local but it’s even more useful to know that it’s good melted on a grilled sandwich.
  • People respond well to repetition and pattern: builds up the perception of abundance, use blocks to create strength and presence, use symmetry and informal symmetry (making things of different size balance, eg many small things on one side, one big thing on the other)
  • You’re building a brand whether you like it or not - build it, use it.


From  presentation by Metamorphosis Group (@MetamorphosisGr) at Making Local Food Work conference, Birmingham.

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Author: Ed

Ed is the founder of Sustaination. He believes that a better world is possibly, desirable, and necessary, and gets rather frustrated by people who aren't prepared to give it a try.

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