Canada's business magazine for traditional natural health retailers

5 minutes reading time (1041 words)

Maximizing Your In-store Promotion through Creative Merchandising

As I write this, I am in the process of launching two strictly in-store promotions. One involves a supplier- wide sale, the second involves only a family of products within a company's product line up. For both of these promotions, we are offering a blanket discount for an extended period of time, and neither one of these promotions has been advertised through media. I am attempting to generate interest and sales, simply with creative, eye-catching merchandising at the store level.

As I write this, I am in the process of launching two strictly in-store promotions. One involves a supplier- wide sale, the second involves only a family of products within a company's product line up. For both of these promotions, we are offering a blanket discount for an extended period of time, and neither one of these promotions has been advertised through media. I am attempting to generate interest and sales, simply with creative, eye-catching merchandising at the store level.

How am I going to be successful? Well, first of all, this is an experiment, so I'm working with only my ideas, and not following any past procedures. Traditionally, in our store, our promotions are always tied to either a radio show (we sponsor Ask the Expert, hour-long information shows one to two times per month), or a flyer distributed in the local newspaper. Radio really is the driving force behind successful promotions at our store, and I rarely have to worry about significant merchandising efforts because the shows generate enough sales on their own. This really is an exercise in creativity, and I'm excited for the challenge!

Create a big display

First, I created a big display. If you want to sell a lot of product, you have to have a lot of stock. We've all heard the "pile it high, watch it fly," theory. I support this idea, as I've heard time and time again of stores building giant displays of a single sku, and then watching consumers stop to look. The automatic mentality is that if a store has so much inventory of an item, they must sell a lot of it, and if they sell a lot, it must be a good product and if so many people buy it, then maybe I need to try it, too. It really does work.

Create bright, colourful signage

Secondly, I created bright, colourful and clear signage. This really isn't too hard to do. I make them at home in Microsoft Excel, and I make sure to include brand logos and product images whenever possible. I find these just with a simple Google search, and then copy and paste into my document. This not only makes the signage more attractive, but also much more professional looking. To go a step further, I take the signs to a local business supply store and have them laminated. This isn't costly, but is quick, and makes the signs much more durable, especially for long-running promotions.

My general preference is not to apply sale stickers to the bottles, so instead I make a spreadsheet of all the items on sale and using columns, list the description, sizes available, regular prices and then the sale prices. I see this type of signage quite often in clothing stores when they have blowout sales, and as a consumer I find it very useful. It also limits the amount of times you will have to answer the question, "What is the price of this item with the discount?" While customer service is incredibly important, and we are certainly there to answer any questions a customer may have, I believe in making information as readily available and obvious to customers as possible.

Generic sale signage

My next step is to invest in some generic "SALE" signage. This is available at business supply stores and is reusable. Since I'm working off only mall traffic and current customers for these promotions, I need to make sure that it's very evident that we are having a big sale. I'm going to take this a bit further by including lots of bright balloons. I will post these items all around the displays that I created, as well as outside the store, and at the sales counter. You can really use anything here to draw attention to the display, as long as it is relevant to the product being promoted. While I am not a fan of clutter, I want this promotion to be over the top, so I'm going to maximize the promotional material. I think the key is to keep it organized and have a plan for the signs, balloons, etc., and not just have it thrown about in excess. We are having a sale, not going out of business clearance.

Once I have my displays, signage and extra promotional material in place, there are a few rules to follow through the life of the promo. We expect to go through a lot of product over the next few weeks, so keeping the display faced and tidy is very important. I will review the displays on a daily basis, because they will no doubt look picked over after a day of selling. As the inventory manager, I will also need to keep on top of inventory and ordering, because the last thing I want is to run out of any product that is on sale. It's also really vital to have product information and brochures readily available. This not only helps secure the sale, but is also an extension of customer service, and as always, we believe that customer service is the key to success in a world full of competition.

Express your creativity

For me, merchandising is the most interesting and enjoyable aspect of working in a retail store. It's an opportunity to express creativity and to really experiment with the factors that influence consumer spending at the store level. I think the only real mistake that can be made is not making use of the opportunity to attract new and current customers with something that looks fresh and new. If promotional merchandising is not something that you are currently practicing in your store, you really are missing out on a fun way to express yourself, along with increasing sales. •

 

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