Merchandising is one of the most important elements of your retail strategy and will require a lot of careful thought and investment. If you're going to put precious resources behind building a wholesale channel, it will be wasted if you don't have the right merchandising. This is especially the case for newer, unknown brands as customers won't know in the beginning to seek your product out. It's your job to make your products stand out and display your unique value proposition.
Just as your online store required months of planning and design of your user experience, in-store merchandising will require lots of planning too. While your retailer ultimately decides how and where to display your product, the more resources you can provide, the more control you will have over your brand. The easier you make it for the retailer, the higher the probability of your brand landing in a prime spot on the floor. Here are some considerations when creating your merchandising strategy.
Number 1, retailers care about value per square footage. In other words, how much merchandise can you pack into the smallest footprint? The goal is to design an efficient display that's going to offer the most value possible for its small footprint while also communicating your brand voice and your value proposition. For example, retailers love to hear that a counter display that takes up a square foot of space has $1,500 worth of retail value.
Number 2, your merchandiser, the unit that's displaying your product, should reflect clear, fresh, concise product information that communicates your value proposition and your brand identity. Number 3, you need to stand out in the store without clashing with the store's unique environment and other merchandising. Number 4, consider where you want it to be in the store and design it for that space in mind.
For example, if you want your product to be at the checkout counter, create a display that suits that location. The more appealing the unit is, the more likely it will be placed in a prime spot. Number 5, make it versatile for different retail environments. For example, design it so it can hang on a slot wall or rotate on a counter, for example. Number 6, depending on your product, you might want to consider designing different sizes of displays, service smaller and larger retailers.
Some partners may order a lot more volume than others, so to have a few different options to show them is important. Number 7, make it easily transportable so you can move it around the store. For example, considering putting wheels on a floor display. You don't want your product stuck in one place, and your merchandiser should allow for easy movement as store placement is really important. And the retailer should have the freedom to experiment.
Number 8, be thoughtful about your materials. Stay away from brittle and easily breakable plastics that may get destroyed in transport. Design it so it's inexpensive to ship and durable. Ultimately, leaving it up to the retailer to merchandise your product takes away from your control. Just as you shape the customer experience in your online store, so should you manage it in the physical world.
While some products require more expensive merchandising approaches, others may be simpler. Accessories and some apparel pieces may require proper fixtures, while others may only require simple point-of-sales materials. For more complicated jobs, I suggest working with an agency specialist who can help you with the design and the manufacturing. If you plan to invest heavily in merchandising, this will need to be factored into your pricing and your ordering guidelines.
Keep in mind that most retailers don't like to pay for fixtures and expect you to provide them for free. With this in mind, you will want to instill order minimums to ensure your fixtures are filled and margins are protected. The end goal is to have all of your retail partners using your fixtures so you can control your brand at store level, and you may need to make some concessions to make that happen. So even if you are providing it for free or pay the shipping, for example, look at the big picture and understand its short-term pain for long-term gain.
A major part of developing your wholesale strategy is developing relationships. In our next lesson, we're going to explore the world of trade shows and everything you need to know to successfully exhibit at an industry gathering.