Articles for Retailers         by Kizer & Bender

 Maximize Your Visual Merchandising this Holiday Season!

by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender

According to the National Retail Federation, Holiday sales during November and December 2017 increased 5.5 percent over the same period in 2016 to $691.9 billion, exceeding its forecast of between $678.75 billion and $682 billion, the largest increase since the 5.2 percent year-over-year gain seen in 2010. That’s a lot of money and a lot of shoppers – to get your share you need to be prepared. And you must be ready on the big days of the season.

2018 Dates to Remember
This year Black Friday falls on November 23, Cyber Monday is November 27, and in between is Small Business Saturday, another day you should have something your sleeve to thrill shoppers who visit your store. The biggest shopping day of the holiday season in recent years is the Saturday before Christmas. The NRF reported that the 174 million Americans who shopped between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday last year spent an average of $335 per person during that five-day period, Millennials were the biggest spenders, paying out an average of $419.52 per person. So . . .

You Store Must Be Open Black Friday
It’s the kick off to Holiday 2018 and you need to be there. Why some retailers choose to close their doors on one of the biggest shopping days of the year is beyond us. If you want to be a contender for your share of the holiday pie you need to play the game.
  • Consider running a Create Your Own Coupon event on Black Friday and let customers decide what’s on sale. You choose the percentages, they choose the items.

  • Encourage shoppers to save their receipts throughout the holidays because on Tuesday, December 11th they will be able to redeem them for merchandise at your Cash Register Receipt Auction. While shoppers are busy collecting receipts dated from November 23 – December 11, you’ll be busy collecting auction items from generous vendors.
Those receipts are worth money: Customers who spend $500 during this time frame will receive $500 in play money to spend at your auction. Of course, your store will be open for shopping with real money after the auction ends: when your sales floor is loaded with customers in the mood to buy, it’s a good idea to let them. 

Don’t Ignore Cyber Monday
Every brick and mortar retailer can sell on Cyber Monday, even when you do not traditionally sell online. Offer specials throughout the day that are only available via your social medias. If you don’t want the hassle of shipping, then go the BOPUIS route: Buy Online Pick Up In Store. With BOPIS you can post items for sale on your Facebook or Instagram and encourage followers to place their order by commenting on your post. You’ll follow up with an online invoice that can be paid via PayPal or a similar service. All it takes is a little thinking outside the box – we know you’re creative or you wouldn’t be in retailing. 

Be Prepared To Sell Big On The Saturday Before Christmas
 Super Saturday – aka Panic Saturday – falls this year on December 22, the Saturday before Christmas. That’s awfully close to Christmas, so Saturday, December 15 will be another big day. Be prepared for crowds both Saturdays. 
  • Some people let the time get away from them and hurry to finish their shopping; others intentionally wait for Super Saturday because they think the discounts will be deeper. You should react with sweet deals on items you need to get rid of so your open to buy looks good going into January, and your inventory isn’t clogged with merchandise that isn’t saleable. Packing product away until next year is almost never a good idea.
  • ¨Super Saturday is also a good day to host a “We’ve Got You Covered!” event that offers pre-wrapped gifts, lists of gift ideas for people of all ages, and free gift wrap.
Get Your Sales Floor Ready To Sell
A visit to your store is all about the customer experience; an experience that determines how long they stay, what they buy, and what they say about your store after they leave. No matter its size or footprint, your store has a decompression zone, lake front property – space on the sales floor that sells better than other areas – and a cash wrap. Let’s take a look at visual merchandising tricks of the trade you can use to set impressive displays and sell more product. 

Fixturing. The fixturing you choose adds flavor to your sales floor, but keep in mind that a fixture’s job is to house merchandise; you aren’t supposed to see it. Good fixtures make the merchandise the star. You need basic fixturing like wall units and shelving to maximize dollars per square foot, and specialty fixturing to feature important items. 

Sight lines.  Shoppers make value judgments about store within the first 10 seconds of contact. They don’t realize they’re doing it, but they are mentally cataloging whether or not they want to spend time in that space. You want them to be intrigued and anxious to enter, so start with shorter fixtures near the front and taller fixtures towards the rear of the store. This sight line allows shoppers standing near the front to see through your sales floor, drawing them to the various areas of the store. 

Speed bump displays. 
This important fixture goes front and center so it’s the first thing shoppers see as they enter the store. Load it with irresistible products displayed on a small fixture that can hold an assortment of product and is low enough to allow customers shop it easily and see into the store. Use your speed bumps to feature new and trendy items, and to tell product stories. 

Keep it simple. Shoppers passing by a display need to be able to understand its message within five seconds or less. It’s easy to go overboard, thinking “I can add this and this and this!” Add too much and all you are doing is making the display harder to shop. Sometimes the simplest displays make the greatest impact. 

Play with color.  We are naturally drawn to color so use it to your advantage wherever you can. Group bright or contrasting colors together on wall unites and free-standing displays to attract shoppers and tell a color story. 

Go vertical.  Any time you display product vertically, you expose the customer to a greater variety of the assortment at any eye level. And since we are naturally inclined to read from left to right, product that is vertically merchandised encourages purchases – shoppers will see your entire selection wherever they look. Going vertical makes every level buy level.

Throw ’em a curve.  Visual Curve Merchandising involves the use of slanted shelves to increase the customer’s strike zone – the amount of product the customer sees in just one glance. Without realizing it, the visual curve forces the shopper to look up and down at the product as well as forward. 

Aromacology.  Remember that old retail adage: “If it smells, it sells”? Turns out its true: Researchers have found that a pleasant-smelling environment has a positive effect on shopping behavior. We all respond to good scents – they have the power to evoke memory. Who hasn’t gotten a whiff of something familiar and been instantly transported to another place in time? Aromacology is the science of scent and its effect on our minds and moods. Grapefruit, for example, will give shoppers a burst of energy, vanilla will calm them when the store is hectic, pine inspires positive feelings, and cinnamon is said to attract money. So put out the potpourri, or better yet, purchase a diffuser. ScentAir sells every fragrance you can imagine, plus unobtrusive diffusers you can tuck away anywhere on the sales floor. Your list of things-to-do for Holiday 2018 is probably as tall as the fixtures on your perimeter walls, but you definitely need to make one, and then work it item by item. If you need ideas for in-store events and promotions, email [email protected] and they will send you 10 turnkey event templates to help you get started!

Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender are professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place. KIZER & BENDER’s observations are widely featured in national newspapers, national and international industry and consumer publications, and on radio and television programs across the U.S. You can learn more at