Friday, September 5, 2008

An Upward Trend In A Downward Market, Part 5

Let's look at merchandising today. This is one of my favorite topics. It is all about choice and display. I'll give you some examples from an industry I have a lot of experience in.

Many car dealers have acres of vehicles on display, yet their merchandising is generally not very good in my opinion. Think about it. They typical dealer has lines of cars. There you go. That is their main merchandising. They line them up. Nice, crisp lines. All in a row. Very little space between them. They have one message: We have a lot of them--which equals great selection, or at least that is the intended impression. Their secondary message is that they know how to line them up. Then, the typical dealer takes two more merchandising steps: 1. They tie helium balloons on the mirrors and float the balloons up high so you see them. and 2. they put flags or banners on the light poles. That's it. Average price is about $25-30,000 and this is all they do. The hot dog vendor has more merchandising going on than this.

Is this what people see when they come in your store? You have a lot of stuff and you know how to line it up? I hope not, but if so, I suggest some changes.

To me, merchandising is about selective attraction. You have to be selective because the mind has so many things to notice, that you have to draw the mind's attention to something specific, or it does not know what to focus on, so it ignores what it sees or it just becomes background. What that means to me is that you need to merchandise a few things differently than the normal display--make them stand out and draw the eye and mind to it. Grocery stores do it on the ends of the rows and sometimes in other areas so you have to weave in and out and around various displays.

The tendency is to fill up all the space with stuff. The goal is no wasted space. I think this is a common mistake. Think about an ad in a magazine or a newspaper. The ads that really get your attention have a good deal of white space. The space draws your attention to the product or the word or whatever it is they want you to see. Many people feel that they are paying for the space, so we need to fill it up. The mind sees that as confusion and it doesn't know what to focus on. The white space takes away the confusion and then the mind can focus. This same thing applies to your store layout. Don't fill up every space, create white space and use it to draw attention to what you want people to see.

On the car dealer lot, they way to do this is instead of having 10 vehicles in a space, you put 4 and you park them at odd angles that draws your eye, but the thing that really draws your eye to the car is the space between them. This same thing applies to your display cases. Want to sell more of certain things, create this kind of display and the mind will be able to focus on the product you want to sell. The more there is to look at, the worse is your opportunity to make a sale unless they know exactly what they wanted when they came in and they go right to it, buy it and they are out of there.

You can demonstrate that you have a lot by keeping it in the background and showing just a few pieces in the foreground. On the car lot, they can fill up the back row, but leave the front row for more interesting displays. This way, they get the best of both philosophies.

Look at your store and how you think a customer's eyes are going to view all of your merchandise. Where are your eyes drawn. Now go into some other stores and take notes of what draws your eyes and why. Take all of that data and make good use of it in your displays and merchandising.

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