There has been great debate surrounding the future of traditional retail environments, as the monolith that is digital retail continues to become a fixture of our day-to-day as consumers. Despite each of these two environments having their own benefits and disadvantages, most economists and marketing professionals assert that the future of retail is looking to incorporate both brick and mortar and digital channels.
Conventional retail is here to stay, but it’s also innovating at a rapid pace, most notably when it comes to product merchandising and store design. We can see this process, a true mixture of science and art, at work in real time every day we go to the supermarket. Here are just a few small ways product merchandising shapes our everyday.
The role of the retail calendar
There are two major considerations that local retailers must make when updating their store layouts: the region they’re in and the time of year. There’s obviously a very clear difference between merchandising an Australian product, and practicing product merchandising in Australia. In a nutshell, this is why knowing your region – as well as a little bit about the people who occupy that region – is important.
Similarly, the events on your retail calendar are likely to be greatly influenced by the region in which your store resides. Canadians hang up their Thanksgiving celebrations before Halloween, and so you’d expect a Canadian supermarket to do the same. Australians generally won’t have winter decor up in their summery Decembers, unless of course a Christmas-themed product may benefit from some unseasonal and thus, eye-catching product merchandising.
It’s worth noting that the role of the retail calendar is not absolute, and product merchandising should also take into consideration consumer habits recorded over the last few years within your region to ensure that regional or short-term product displays will in fact have appeal to a majority of consumers.
Highlighting products through placement and display design
One of the most compelling advantages that physical retailers have over their digital counterparts is their heightened ability to provide an enriching shopping experience through strategic and engaging product placement, thus enabling them to form positive and valuable relationships with their consumers in real time.
Forming a positive relationship with your customers isn’t just about ensuring repeat business. When consumers feel supported in their shopping, they’re more likely to consider purchasing additional goods and potentially even services that may boost their enjoyment of the products purchased. Providing a mixture of goods and in-store or potentially even at-home services (i.e. delivery, product set-up, product tutorials, fun mobile apps etc.) is guaranteed to simultaneously boost your store’s conversion rates as well as increase transaction values. You can group products that are related to one another as well as any applicable services in a dedicated aisle or on the same shelves to make your consumer’s experience as seamless as possible.
Although digital retailers also have their own means of enriching the shopping experience for their consumers, there’s no denying that traditional retailers have the advantage of producing thoughtful and engaging product displays, alongside the added opportunity to potentially expand into a digital space as well!
Fine-tuning your floor plan
Any experienced consumer knows about the basic psychology behind ‘impulse purchases’. Consumers can often purchase products to fulfill certain personal emotional needs, such as a desire to stray from their daily schedule and other general thrill-seeking, and potentially even a desire to give back, as some physical retailers have begun using checkout displays for products manufactured by charities. What you may not know about impulse buying is that it’s not always just about emotion, and impulse purchasing isn’t just contained to checkout displays.
The layout and flow of your overall store can also play a great role in increasing the likelihood of impulse buying in your retail environment. Using versatile displays like end caps (or products placed at the ends of aisles facing outwards rather than on traditional shelving) and freestanding display racks, you can optimise your store’s floor plan to ensure that your consumers are presented with multiple opportunities to engage in impulse buying.
It’s clear when you look at the methods outlined above, that retail design is truly a scientific art. Or a creative science. Whichever way you look at it, the whole practice undoubtedly relies on observing and responding to consumer behaviours as well as aiming to get shoppers excited! Physical retail is truly an avenue of commerce that will continue to surprise and engage us for decades to come.