How to Set Up Merchandise in Your Retail Business

An essential part of planning any retail business from the outset will be pre-determining how to maximise the trading space available in your store and how best to use the wallspace and centre floor trading areas. Effectively arranging your products within that given space could be key to your stores’ success, especially if you have a brand image or ‘attitude’ to reflect. Product placement, how that product is merchandisied, what kind of product density you need to achieve the look and the overall visual balance of the store is paramount to your retail success. Because in retail, our customer is a tactile shopper, who likes to interact with products (touch,feel, try things on), we need to be more vigilant in fulfilling their needs. This is why it is crucial for the merchandise to be set up and presented at its best in your business. Therefore with this in mind it is wise to plan the store layout first ensuring that the product positioning on the floorplan is the best commercial decision for maximising the potential sales growth in your business. After the initial draft of the floorplan is complete, the shopfittings & fixtures should be designed around the needs of the products and floorplan. In this way fitting rooms can be positioned near areas where you would expect customers would want to try on garments etc. Instead of a retailer i know who ask men to use the same fitting rooms as the Lingerie department – needless to say not many men try on in that store!

So always begin your merchandise set up on the shopfloor with a basic floorplan. For the floorplan to be effective at delivering sales, some important considerations should be taken into account:

1 – Know Your Customer – Who are you targeting? If you have a clear understanding of the customer demographic you are targeting then you will be better placed to make decisions about where to put certain lines to attract them into your store. Check out the local competitors and steal some layout ideas for them especially if it is also your target customer that shops there.

2 – Brand Image – What is your Brand Identity? How important is it to you/ your business and how brand conscious is your customer? Asking yourself these questions will help you make commercial decisions about where to feature premium lines or key brands depending on what your customer type is.

3 – Promotional Lines -Promotional products should ideally be positioned in an area of the store that is clearly visible from the entrance area. As these type of lines usually offer less profit margin per sale, it is essential that the promotion drives sales volume in order to make up for the loss in margin due to promo price. Therefore with this in mind, promotional lines should be situated in an area of the store where you would expect a lot of customer traffic. e.g at the entrance to the store, at the tillpoint, on the edge of walkways, on entrance to departments etc..

4 – Main Range Lines – the bulk of your core products should be grouped together by type and then by colour before being merchandised on the shop equipment. If your retail business is ladies clothing for example then for best presentation, pull all your ladies garments into collections by colour story thus creating a ‘wardrobe’ effect which wll appeal and entice the female shopper.

To achieve an authoritative representation of each product line you stock, try grouping similar, related or associated product types together (e.g shoes, earrings, handbags all grouped together as ‘accessories’ ).Once you have grouped all your products into logical product areas then the floorplan will start to develop and the pinpointing of these product zones on the floorplan can begin. There may be several floorplan draft devised before you are completely satisfied that you have the most visually appealing yet commercial floorplan for your business. As a general rule of thumb, product lines with the best appeal (could be brand appeal, newest range instore, best visual appeal etc) should be merchandised on the wall areas with high density promotional lines and smaller, capsule collections better suited to centre floor equipment.

When allocating centre floor space on your plan to your products, remember that the customer will appreciate a floor layout where everything makes sense and is laid out in an organised and logical fashion. The ease-of- shopping factor is a big plus for most shoppers! Therefore any brand or promotional signage, marketing or photography images that you have available should be used to enhance designated areas or Brands within the shop so that they stand out from the main range and add interest to your store.

To draft the best centre floor plan you need to firstly, imagine where your customers will enter your store and visualise what journey around your store you want them to take in order for your products to get maximum exposure. The more floorspace they customer covers in your store the more they see, the more they buy. Once your walkway/s have been established on the floorplan simply drop-in your product zones or mini departments around the edges of the main walkway ensuring that the flow of these product zones or mini departments is logical. The clearer your shop is the more the customer will actually see the products and the more chance they will purchase something. To add further clarity to the layout add a small lead-in display at the front of each of your mini departments to allow the customer to notice the change in products as they pass along the walkway/s.