In this article, we look at one of the most important parts of the retail experience and one that as consumers we rarely have knowledge of; Merchandising.

From the moment you enter a store, the entire layout has been designed in such a way to make your shopping experience as enjoyable as possible; whilst maximising the basket spend per visit. Yet whilst our eyes can clearly see what we are looking at, our brains are being influenced and we are making our purchasing decisions in a semi sub conscious way.

In the broadest sense, merchandising is any practice which contributes to the sale of products to a retail consumer. At an in-store level, merchandising refers to displaying products that are for sale in a creative way that entices customers to purchase more items or products.

In Store Merchandising

There are multiple reasons that each of us visit the supermarket; the café, the takeaway lunch chiller or that item we forgot on our last visit for one immediate need. However, for the majority it is still to do the major periodic shop that will see us through to the next visit.

Retailers have invested huge amounts of money into understanding how to combine customer experience with increased spend, and here we provide a useful insight into how this happens in your local supermarket.

Clothing, Homewares, Electrical, News & Magazines, Seasonal, Fruit & Vegetables, Delicatessen, Bakery, Ambient, Beers Wines & Spirits, Pharmacy, Toiletries, Laundry & Cleaning and lots of promotional product placements along the way and most of us make purchases from many of these areas when we visit the supermarket.

Each area of the store is meticulously divided into these key overlapping areas and it is the responsibility of the merchandisers to make sure it stays that way; fully stocked (faced up and back filled with the shortest use by dates at the front when applicable), well displayed (correct number of facings, no out of stocks, correct price labelling and promotional point of sale in place) and the aisles tidy and clear of clutter.

With millions of products being bought each day, this represents an enormous amount of skill and effort for a dedicated team who, day in, day out make sure everything is right where you need it to be.

And just how do they get that basket spend up?

Through many years of research into consumer buying behaviour, retailers are continuously refining their model to take advantage of the ability to influence how much you spend.

As soon as you walk into the supermarket, you can avoid the main store area if your intention is to visit the café, lunch chiller or tobacco kiosk, which in turn benefits the flow of the in-store traffic. You may even be gently diverted through the clothing and electrical departments just so you can take note of goods that may take your fancy.

However, if your visit is for your weekly shop, you are treated to a journey that provides a sensory experience that focuses on enticing purchase.

Well-designed product packaging, colourful point of sale and displays, complimentary product groupings and fresh smells emanating from the bakery and if you’ve decided on the clothing and electrical as your start, you’re fine tuned into buying mode even before the enhanced sensory attack.

The fresh fruit and vegetables quite often placed at the beginning of the experience, take care of the feel-good factor gained from looking after your health and then you are ‘in the zone’ for the retailer to capture an increase basket spend throughout the rest of the store.

If the products are on promotion, you will also be drawn to the enticing offers with unbelievable prices that draw your eyes in.

When you finish your journey, there’s the last-minute impulse pick-ups that round off the spend and your visit is complete (until the next time) resulting in retailer and customer both satisfied with the end result.

None of this would be possible without the skill of the Merchandisers who make sure the correct products are always available in the right locations and in quantities that avoid the potential for lost sales due to out of stocks.

So, the next time you visit the supermarket, you can now understand a little of why it looks the way it does to influence your choices, as well as understanding more about the invaluable contribution of the team of Merchandisers who make it all happen.

Lee Singers, National Business Development Manager