Retail Primer: Merchandising 101


The term “merchandising” can be used to describe the broad range of marketing and business strategies that utilize various techniques for presenting goods or services to customers with appealing, appealing designs to boost sales.

What is Selling?

In the broadest sense merchandising, also referred to as display, visual merchandising, or marketing, is any activity that contributes to the sales of products to consumers. customers. On a retail level in-store the term “merchandising” refers to the wide range of merchandise offered for sale as well as the display of these products in a manner that is designed to entice customers’ attention and make them want to buy.

Who uses it?

Merchandising is primarily used by brick-and-mortar stores, regardless of whether the store is owned by an independent company or is part of one of the most renowned chains. While many stores may offer the same items, the merchandising strategy is what differentiates the retail stores from each other. The way that branding, packaging, and visual displays are used or aren’t utilized in a retailer’s merchandising plan can have a direct effect on sales, foot traffic customer loyalty, as well as general popularity. The merchandising strategy can make a shop a place that shoppers are likely to want to be…or aren’t.

What is its significance of it?

The merchandise a retailer provides the customers are crucial but how these products are sold determines what is shipped out of the store and how fast it gets there. Some merchandising best practices guidelines consistently encourage customers to buy:


As a retail store consumers have the option of your chance. Making sure you have a good supply and variety of items will allow shoppers to make an ‘either-or purchase’ instead of a ‘yes-or-no choice. In the case of Best Buy carrying only one brand and one notebook computer customers could only make a ‘yes or no option which is “Yes I would like this particular computer” or “No I don’t want this particular computer.” However, since Best Buy carries computers from Dell, Samsung, Apple, etc. Consumers are immediately engaged in deciding which model is the best which eliminates the ‘yes-or-no debate completely.

Apple Stores, on the other hand, sell only one model of computer: Apple, of course. However, the range they offer is a result of the many different sizes, shapes, and capacities of various Apple computers. Whatever the mix of merchandising, those who offer a variety of options to their customers are employing an effective merchandising strategy to get customers to buy prior to leaving.


Rotation of inventory helps keep a retail store looking fresh and modern. The rotation of merchandise provides shoppers with the impression that there’s every day something exciting to explore. The display of new products at the front of the store is a great way to draw shoppers into the front door. The display of clearance items at an area in the rear of the shop helps direct shoppers to the merchandise display that they would otherwise overlook.

Utilizing merchandising flexibility best practices, retailers are able to draw the attention of consumers to seasonal products or holiday-specific items, as well as special deals. The more successful a retailer is in grabbing the attention of shoppers while making them focus on the latest products, most sought-after products, and the most appealing special offers for a limited time, the faster inventory is converted into successful sales.

Branding, Co-Branding, and Product Placement

Branding helps identify and differentiate the product. A well-designed brand sets an item apart, creating an unforgettable impression on the consumer. Any person who sees the swoosh immediately is thinking “Nike.” A single bite of an apple has defined the biggest technology company ever with a vast worldwide audience for at most 30 of its 42 years without saying a word.

Co-branding can improve the appeal of particular products and the overall look of the retail store in general. Department stores such as Macy’s and Nordstrom have branded items grouped into mini-departments. Barnes and Noble’s Bookstores allocate some of their retail stores to coffee-shop brands such as Starbucks. Sephora is a brand that has been around for a while. Sephora brand has its own stores inside JCPenney stores.

Effective product placement offers an excellent way to create your mark in the market. Reese’s Pieces became ‘a thing because everyone loved E.T. and his adorable love for Peanut Butter Chocolate treat. Three decades later children still create videos of themselves walking through the air to “take the record albums off of the shelves” wearing Ray-Bans and button-down Oxford shirts. Just like Tom Cruise did in Risky Business.

The more subtle, sophisticated versions of advertising don’t require millions of dollars and they won’t be seen in the theaters near you or on TV. In exchange for a stylish handbag, pair of shoes, or a shirt, many of the smallest-sized retailers lend or give away items to the most fashionable people in their communities, with the assurance that they’ll wear or wear the items at a certain amount of times or attend certain events, and that people will need to know where they bought it.

Grouped Product Display

Stores selling sporting goods like Dick’s Sporting Goods merchandise socks in the shoe section. Coffee shops such as Starbucks offer coffee bean grinders and insulated travel cups alongside coffee beans. Kohl’s discount department stores sell oven mitts alongside baking sheets. By putting related items together the retailers make it easier for customers to put themselves in a scene and encourage shoppers to buy products they didn’t know they required or wanted.

Easy Access

The way in which products are displayed must provide buyers with an easy way to access the merchandise and make it simple for customers to browse and select the perfect product to suit their needs. If displays for merchandising make items difficult to access or locate or difficult to find most customers become bored or show signs of discontent, and often leave without purchasing.


Showing and showcasing products that are marked down to sale prices encourages shoppers to buy even if it’s just for the sake of other than to grab a great bargain.


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