By Jim Lewis, CEO Enhanced Retail Solutions LLC
What is fundamentally required to be successful at retail today? The great merchants of yesteryear would tell you all you need is great product. Knowing your consumer and relying on the vendor base to introduce new products to you first. But things were a lot simpler then. Those were days when you couldn’t buy something at any time from any store while sitting on your couch.
Today, merchandising must be thought of both strategically and tactically. It’s not just an assortment plan. A well thought out strategy must ensure the assortment meets the consumer’s needs while embodying the retail philosophy. That can get murky as the same product can appear on multiple retailer’s website, even in different categories, “platformification” if you will. The more generic the product, the less philosophy matters. But for retailers whose secret sauce requires them to be special and oozing with brand ethos, product merchandising is paramount. That can be accomplished both in store through visuals and presentation, and online through page design and marketing elements (video, etc.).
Attracting the consumer’s attention is vital. Whether you are selling luxury automobiles, smart phones, polo shirts or towels you must tell a story. This is the entertainment factor. Tricky because you may be marketing to different generations. Millennials buy differently than Xers, GenY and GenZ. Luckily target marketing has come a long way and you can talk too them at different places (for better or worse). This is the strength of You Tube and other social media platforms. Bottom line: shopping should be fun and provide an emotional connection.
Storytelling, in-store, online and in mobile apps help consumers understand how a product fits into their reality. IKEA’s app does a great job showing a consumer how a product will look in their home. Bed Bath & Beyond appears to be changing their strategy from classification to more collection driven. This invites the consumer to interact more with products and increases add on sales. It also makes their visit more experiential.
Finally, merchandising and entertainment must ensure convenience for consumers. We all know retailers must make it easy for consumers and meet them however, wherever and whenever they want to shop. Measure success of your efforts by tracking POS sales before, during and after making changes.
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