Enhance Product Placement

In the competitive retail market, it is crucial for stores to maintain a shopping environment that will attract customers and maximize sales. While promotional deals and pricing can account for initial customer interest in a product, the successful progression from that initial engagement to purchase is most dependent upon effective product placement. Enhanced product displays and strategic product merchandising are shown to increase shopping convenience, drive store traffic, encourage product interaction, and increase likelihood of purchase. The benefits to improving product placement are well worth the effort, and there are a number of tactics and solutions for retailers to consider.

Reducing Clutter

Neat, orderly rows of product and clear signage is essential for customers to conveniently find, choose, and make a purchase—especially when the average supermarket or big box retail store carries over 42,000 products (Angrisani 2016). Confusion due to poor signage, mixed or misplaced product, clutter, and out-of-stocks result in wasted customer time, high stress, and low purchase frequency.

One of the best ways to alleviate crowded, chaotic shelf space is to remerchandise specific products into a feature display. A 2005 study conducted in the menswear department of a retail clothing store found low customer engagement and sales on existing t-shirt and shorts fixtures; after revamping the merchandising on these fixtures and relocating them to the center of the store, customer engagement increased from 2.9 to 13.3% and sales increased by 54% (Burke 2014). Imagine! produced a special display to solve a similar issue for Listerine mouthwash and oral care products in pharmacy stores. On the original store shelves, several dozen oral care brands were mixed together and disorganized, making it difficult for customers to find and compare different products. Imagine! engineered a display to fit over a section of the store shelves, creating a physical barrier and visual separation to spotlight the Listerine brand.

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Framing product using signage solution

Grouping Like with Like

Arranging related merchandise in the same area on the sales floor makes shopping more functional for customers, allowing them to spend less time searching for specific items and encouraging them to purchase multiple related pieces. Groupings could include a variety of items relevant to a specific type category (e.g. hats, scarves, handbags, and other “Accessories”) or items sharing the similar color, size, or price. Merchandising like with like is a universally practical approach, allowing for flexibility and creativity to best fit your store and customer needs. If a particular arrangement doesn’t achieve sales as hoped, it can easily be modified for a new look.

Utilizing Color

Effective use of color is especially capable of attracting customers and elevating product—whether the product itself or the product setting is colorful. Similar and complementary colors of merchandise can be grouped together to create color stories and encourage traffic flow through a space. Color blocking of products, signage, and fixtures adds visual interest and balance to a display, especially with multiple elements.

Imagine! applied this color blocking strategy to a series of temporary display designs for Starbucks. The coffeehouse giant requested a display to showcase new Tazo Tea product, color-coordinated to indicate three different varieties of tea products. The colors on the printed displays match the product packaging for each variety; this design allows a customer to easily distinguish the different products, while the color coordination between display and products appears composed and harmonious.

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 Leveraging color on displays

Symmetric Composition

An asymmetrical arrangement of product can seem disorganized or visually unappealing to the customer, prompting them to glance away from the display and derailing chance of purchase. Product placed symmetrically tends to have the opposite effect, eluding calm and balance and encouraging the eyes to linger on the display. This basic concept works in conjunction with the Pyramid Principle in visual marketing: the staging of product in a triangle shape with a feature product at the center focal point and other product set out symmetrically on each side. The arrangement also allows further product and best-selling items to be placed in prominent locations symmetrically from the center, allowing easy access to those items and resulting in a visually attractive display. The triangle/pyramid approach can often be seen in retail clothing boutiques.

Engaging Across Categories

Another useful tactic for retailers to consider is cross-category merchandising: the strategic placement of products from different but complementary categories in close proximity to one another in order to improve the sales of both products. Soft drinks and snacks (such as potato chips) provide a good example of items from different selling categories often purchased together. Staging such cross-category products effectively requires careful spatial planning of display locations, not only between aisles, but also within them. A 2009 study in Journal of Marketing which modeled cross-category placement in a major retail chain found that locating separate aisles containing cola and potato chip products closer together would increase sales, but facing the two products across from each other in the same aisle would have an even greater positive impact on sales (Bezawada et.al. 2009). Though it requires a more detailed understanding of consumer habits, cross-category product placement can be extremely profitable when managed effectively: in the soft drink and chips example, the estimated incremental annual profit from improved placement ranged from $10 to $15 million for a 200-store retail chain (Bezawada et.al. 2009).