I read an article about how CVS was experiencing growth by increasing basket size. These days, that's what will keep retailers in business. And as a Manufacturer or an MSO, you can play a big role in achieving that aim. Your merchandisers should want to help drive higher purchases.
Keep in mind, convenience is a BIG PART of the game now. Customers have too many easy options without stepping foot in the store. That means you've got to make products "shoppable"...get them off the shelf and into a cart. So your retail merchandising team has got to avoid crucial errors when they're setting up displays.
Let's take a look at common errors you must avoid at all costs.
Not knowing the customer well enough
When merchandise doesn't sell, shoppers are telling retailers that they're not enthused about the offer. Is it the product itself? Is it the price? Even the best planned display can fail, so you've got to know why.
Everyone who works the front should know what their customers like, prefer, avoid, and trust. These tendencies should be addressed (with proper authority) when visual merchandising is applied to product display. Elements in the display should reflect a knowledge of customers and encourage them to add items to their carts by triggering the right emotions.
Your field reps should think about customers' hobbies, tastes, economic status, family size, and more when they're interacting with the stores' customers. Make it part of your culture that your team members become brand ambassadors -- not only for the products you sell and service -- but for each and every retailer you visit. Train your reps to welcome customers to the store, ask what brought them into the store that day, offer value in the form of helping customers find products, and while walking customers to product, suggest up/cross sales that would benefit the shopper.
During these interactions, your reps should also have casual chats that not only make shoppers feel welcome, important, empowered, and cared for -- but also help your reps learn what the shoppers in that store are likely to buy. Ask them to report information back using their retail execution software tools and provide the information to your retailer and manufacturer customers.
A lackluster set
For your clients' sake, make sure your reps put some effort into your displays. When reps have local authority, tell them to be creative! They should have a theme in mind, such as a concept or product use. Many times, customers will only give a cursory look...a one or two-second glance...at a set before deciding whether to move on or check it out. If the message behind the display is confusing, uninteresting, or unfocused, those shoppers will pass – and that won't help lift basket size.
When there is no local authority, your reps still owe each set extreme effort. There is no excuse for leaving a selling environment anything less than perfect given adequate product. Fronted. Faced. No damaged product. No trash on the shelves. Set perfectly to plan-o-gram. All tags and signs to perfection. And anywhere your reps can snag some incremental space it must be done.
And if they don't have adequate product in the store, there is no excuse for not getting to the bottom of why. Is it a shelf, store, distribution center, or manufacturer OOS -- or a void? Knowing why goes a long way towards fixing it. Demand that your reps find out as much as they can and get it reported using your retail execution software platform so your HQ can fix it. Every lost sale becomes a lack of funding for a lot of peoples' plans for the future that can never be regained. Find and fix these problems with urgency!
Customers are typically attracted to what is visually meaningful to them and imperfect sets fail on this account. So you should encourage your team to set displays in a way that shoppers can envision their own use of the products. Once they're attracted, the display (and ideally your reps if in-store) must also convince them to add items to their cart.
Letting your displays and products sit
While reps rarely have authority to change out displays on their own, we all know that letting merchandise sit in a display too long kills any chance of improving basket size, right? So make sure you're updating, moving, or replacing displays as needed. Getting resets right the first time usually requires documents and training; and this is where your retail execution software solution can shine! Push store-specific plan-o-grams, display build instructions, and authorized product lists to reps' smartphones; and create a training-task that includes video instruction which must be completed prior to getting access to the reset task. With this technology you ensure 100% execution and 100% accuracy in each and every store.
A common question is “how often should I change my displays?” The best answer is as often as it needs to be to lift basket size. But the routine answer is every 2-3 weeks. You should keep the best customers in mind when you're managing displays. If a good customer shops there every week, and a display can become stale after a few visits, then they should target at least a monthly makeover. Partner with your retailers to gain buy-in, and keep increasing that basket size!
The idea behind these resets is to infuse some freshness to the space, to keep shoppers looking for new products to try. You may need to redesign the entire set or update with new merchandise. Updating displays is a good opportunity to cross-merchandise by adding new upsell items or value-priced merchandise.
Too much merchandise
This is one every category manager NEEDS TO AVOID. "Too much" means having too many different products crowding your displays. Some people feel like if they don't feature an item, shoppers won't know it's carried. But crowding a window or floor display can be the kiss of death, because it will be too distracting.
Many visual merchandise experts suggest using "negative space"...areas where there is nothing but background. A good display will pull a shopper in by presenting a simple yet powerful message about the merchandise being featured.
On the other hand, not having ENOUGH products within a display is another common merchandising error. Just like shelf out-of-stocks, a conspicuous "hole" in your presentation can distract, confuse, and annoy shoppers. Your reps should make sure to strike a balance between too many and too few products.
Here again you can leverage your retail execution software solution by plotting Point of Sale data, by store, against the assortment in that store. Determine the optimum assortment for each store, and always be tweaking to give each demographic the right set of choices -- just enough, but not too much.
Poor traffic flow
Merchandise displays should not detract from a COMPLETE shopping experience. One of the key strategies to lifting basket size is to entice shoppers to travel the entire store. The longer they're in there, the more likely they'll purchase more merchandise.
Did you know you can use your retail execution software platform to document traffic patterns? Simply ask reps to observe shoppers and report results. In short time you'll learn each store's pattern. Armed with this information you can not only be more efficient when asking for space and product placement; but you can become a trusted adviser to your retail merchants / buyers.
Have reps routinely take a trip through the store...are displays positioned for maximum visibility but allows foot traffic to flow easily? Do displays complement nearby shelf stock? Are there impulse-buy opportunities throughout the floor? Have them look around to see if your displays can be optimized to help encourage a full store visit -- and then report that using their mobile tools.
A lack of CTAs
A customer approaches a display with no call to action. How motivated is she to buy at that moment? You have GOT to give shoppers a reason to buy. Not all products sell themselves...in fact, many don't. So adding reasons to buy then and there gives her more motivation.
Signs encourage shoppers to check out the product. Messaging that conveys product use or encourages purchases of multiple products (like a BOGO sign) can be effective. At the very least, you should have pricing prominently displayed. Many people will look for pricing early in their engagement with your display. So make it easy for them to determine if they can afford to add the product to their basket.
Share these thoughts with your retail execution team. Times are getting tough for some retailers, and whatever you can do as a merchandiser to lift basket size helps keep them in business – and you on the floor.
As always, in our business, the more doors you can touch with the above actions the better for the entire supply chain.