You set up a beautifully designed retail store, you have defined your target audience, and you have the inventory of products from the suppliers ready – with all these in place, you think you are ready. No, that is unfortunately not the case. Then what is the missing link? Merchandise management. To achieve the desired success with more customers and more sales, a retailer must decide the right merchandise mix. If you are interested in supermarket visual merchandising, then have a look at this article: https://arirms.com/supermarket-visual-merchandising-a-game-of-product-placement
What is merchandise planning?
retail store’s strategy and targeted customers’ expectations. It is important to ensure merchandise management at all times to reach your goals of increased sales and improved market share. Retailers must adopt the merchandise planning process’s best practices to achieve a competitive advantage in the market.
Benefits of merchandise management
The benefits that you can achieve with the right merchandising planning are as follows:
Those mentioned above are the three main reasons why merchandise management is important for any retailer for growth in the market. If you intend to stand out from the competition, employ the best merchandise management practices in your retail store. For this, you must focus on the following key components of merchandise planning:
Key components of the merchandise mix
no excess left once the season ends. In the case of products in fashion or a fad, retailers must be extra vigilant to gauge customer demand and order the right numbers because the products may suddenly get out of fashion.
Range of a product refers to the width, breadth, and depth of products available in the retail store. Breadth means different brands available in the store, depth means the different sizes, colors, prices for the product, while width means the number of product lines that the store offers.
For example, a fashion retail store offers shirts, t-shirts, trousers, and jeans; then the width is four. Breadth means brands such as Levi’s, Gap, Guess, Wrangler, or any other. Depth means the different sizes and colors in each brand and product line.
Retailers must make sure to keep a certain number of products of each breadth, depth, and width so that customers have multiple options to choose from and do not leave the store because of the non-availability of the appropriate product for their demand.
Retailers must be wise enough to determine the price range suitable for the customers they are targeting. Generally, the classification of price-based products comes under low, medium, and premium. However, retailers can categorize products based on prices such as regular price, discounts, combo offers, and others depending on their objective – whether it is a normal sale, stock clearance, or profit maximization.
Assortment means planning the presentation of the merchandise mix for the most effective results. Like products are placed together based on category. For example, toiletries will be placed separately from snack items, while both will be kept at a different place than the pulses and flours. Retailers must assort the product categories wisely and place them to make it easier for the customers to search for a product and find complementary products together.
The right placement of the products so that all are visible to the visiting customer is essential. Retailers must use the limited floor space to display different product categories for easy visibility, comfort in picking up the product, and convenience in putting it in their shopping basket. For better display, retailers can use mannequins, fixtures, hangers, window displays, and gondolas.
Best tactics of merchandise management
While retailers focus on these five components of the merchandise mix, it is also important to adopt the best practices of merchandise management:
Data of sales forecasts and merchandise budget form the base for merchandise planning
You must be aware of your sales forecasts before deciding on the merchandise plan. The sales forecasts must include estimations for the overall sales, department-wise sales, product category-wise sales, and sales per product. These estimates depend on past sales data, current economic situation, trends and challenges in the retailer industry, and customer behavior. You must also consider the brands’ activities, such as adding new products, scrapping old products, or any other changes that may affect customer demand.
The merchandise budget must be prepared at the company level, department level, and store level based on the sales forecasts. The merchandise budget will help you understand how much you have to develop and implement the best merchandise management practices. This includes the estimation of the ROI in merchandise management for each store. The merchandise planning must be such that there is adequate stock in every store to satisfy customers’ demands. There is no overstocking situation leading to expired products and hence, heavy discounts for stock clearance.
Understanding of customer demand behavior based on data and analytics ensures an appropriate merchandise mix
In addition to the sales forecasts, it is equally important to have the data and insights from customer behavior. These insights help you design the merchandise mix so that customers are attracted to the store, enjoy their experience, and return for their next purchase transaction. The challenge is that customer behavior changes rapidly since they have more product and brand options, wide channels of shopping, and access to a continuous stream of reviews and feedbacks.
Retailers use software and systems that track their customers’ purchase activities and their feedback on products or discounts. These data provide a strong backdrop for making informed decisions on merchandise mix and merchandise management. For example, do the customers like the placement of jeans and t-shirts in the same section so that it is easier to match, or do they want them placed separately so that they have access to all the options of jeans to choose from? Similarly, other factors of customer behavior are assessed depending on the products the retailer is selling.
Defining and using the category roles to provide a good shopping experience to customers is an important ingredient of merchandise planning
such as shops for buying wedding clothes. The routine category targets the routine requirements of customers such as pulses, sugar, salt, etc., for daily food needs. Similarly, retailers define their category roles to differentiate themselves, target the customers, and provide value to customers. Clarity on category roles helps them to do merchandise planning and decide the merchandise mix accordingly.
Communicating and executing the merchandise plan correctly guarantees successful merchandise management
Now, the last step to success is executing the merchandise plan in the best possible way so that you and the customers derive value from it. The best action is to use planograms to display your strategy in visual representation so that everyone understands it and works towards getting it right. This ensures that the merchandise management happens at all levels, and continuous monitoring and control are maintained to ensure fruitful success.
Follow the tactics mentioned above to attain an optimized merchandise mix for your store so that merchandise management is ensured with full success. Employ these merchandise mix tactics, collect their performance data, analyze and understand the impact, and then make adjustments, if required, to stay ahead of the competition. Therefore, hang in there with your properly planned merchandise management strategy.
Ari retail software provides merchandise management functionality where you can create items from the headquarters and then allocate them to the stores which deal with them. It also provides various reports and analytics, helping you in merchandise management.