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Retail Merchandising Tips You Should Never Ignore
DotActiv TeamJun 6, 2017 11:45:00 AM4 min read

3 Retail Merchandising Tips You Should Never Ignore

As a retailer, the long-term success of your store depends on a number of factors. These include, among others, understanding your customers and keeping them happy, and implementing retail analytics into your business. One other factor is related to retail merchandising. More specifically, it’s about how well you merchandise your store.

But what is retail merchandising exactly? To put it simply, it’s the practice that contributes to the sale of products. At a store level, it refers to the display of products in such a way as to encourage customers to make a purchase.

If you merchandise your store correctly, you’ll pull in more customers and increase your sales. You’ll also make shopping easier for your customers. Fail to get it right though, and you’ll not only have wasted your time, but you'll also have wasted your money.

Below are a few retail merchandising tips that as a retailer, you would do well not to ignore.

Tip 1: Ensure your category tells a story

To be effective at merchandising your store, it’s imperative that you have the right assortment for each category. The reason for this is simple: product assortments carry with them an enormous impact on sales and gross margin.

In doing so, it’s also important to tell a story for each of your categories.

Let’s take the cereals category as an example. In telling a story about this category, you’ll want to ensure that you cater for a number of different age groups. These age groups can be anyone from children all the way up to adults. At the same time, you’ll want to consider catering for all sorts of different lifestyles, from your more health-conscious customers to your average customer who just wants their favourite brand.

When selecting the collection of products that you want to merchandise, just remember that some products are only available during a particular time of the year. The last thing you want is an empty shelf because you’ve failed to plan properly.

Tip 2: Define the merchandising technique to be used

From Vertical to Horizontal to Cross and Colour Block Merchandising, you have a number of merchandising techniques to choose from to enhance the appearance of your products and store.

Which technique you choose depends largely on what you’re trying to achieve as well as which category strategy you’ve chosen.

Vertical Merchandising is self-explanatory. As a technique, it’s the practice of displaying items in a vertical display, which makes it easy for your customer to compare brands. It also gives all brands an equal opportunity to be viewed. You can read more about how Vertical Merchandising works in a previous blog article we wrote.

While vertical merchandising displays products vertically, horizontal merchandising places products for sale in a blocked horizontal manner. This method puts the brand leader at the much-sought-after eye level, with the goal of increasing sales. The one downside of this technique is that those brands placed on the bottom shelf will remain poor or slow sellers since they’re mostly out of sight.

Cross Merchandising, a topic that we’ve covered before on our blog, is when a retailer displays products next to each, which can be used together. For example, peanut butter next to bread or batteries next to battery-operated toys. This technique works very well when you want to place a slow selling product with a fast selling product that is either in the same category or at least in a related one.

Lastly, you have colour block merchandising, which is when you have products of a similar colour that are grouped together on the shelf. Otherwise knowing as colour ribboning, it’s an effective form of visual merchandising and has the advantage of making shopping easier for your customers.

Tip 3: Define the flow carefully

To create a flow within your store, you’ll first need to have a category hierarchy and your consumer decision tree defined.

The groupings of products into a hierarchy ensures that items viewed as substitutes for each other can be easily located within a store while your decision tree takes into account the decisions your customers will make when purchasing. These include the brand, price, flavour, size and so on.

It’s important to note that without a clear flow, it will be difficult for your customers to shop your store and find what they want. At the same time, your shelves will most likely appear messy and haphazardly packed, which can affect your overall sales.

It can also impact the way your customer views your store. If they expect that you won’t have the product they’re after, they’re unlikely to come back, even for other products.


The effect that proper retail merchandising can have on the overall health of your store is enormous. Not only will it mean that your customers will see your store as trustworthy, and they’ll keep coming back, but it will also expose them to more products, which will ultimately increase your sales.


DotActiv Team

The DotActiv team comprises category management experts lending their retail experience and knowledge to create well-researched and in-depth articles.