How to Effectively Merchandise your Business & Increase Sales.

Did you know that a high percentage of your customers approach your business looking for inspiration? Your most important marketing tool is just over your shoulder, your back bar, shelves and counter space and what you do with it can have a profound effect on their buying decision.

For Patrick Huggins, Director of BHMA Limited, and trainer of Back Bar Merchandising Skills Courses for many years, the ‘behind you’ area is “potentially the most influential selling space in any business”. “Research shows there are a number of things you can do that will influence consumer choice, including ensuring optimum product quality and having a balanced range. One of the biggest influencers of choice, however, is visibility − people tend to buy what they see,” he explains. “Visibility is key in helping owners build their business. It’s not enough to stock profitable brands if your customers don’t know they’re there.”

In the pub trade generally drinkers will stick with one brand, so it’s vital you steer them to the most profitable brands for that first purchase. “There is a definite opportunity for licensees to use back-bar display to do this,” says Patrick. “And it’s also an effective way to make drinkers aware of new brands and encourage them to give them a try.”  These principles apply to all trade sectors, especially at the point of purchase. For example hair salons should display their hair products behind the till and delicatessens display oils & dressings.

Research seems to prove that good results can be achieved for very little effort. “Live tests have shown that merchandising can produce significant sales uplifts for the featured brand”. “A well-merchandised business can increase sales by between 10% and 35%.

Be ruthless! “The ‘behind you’ area should certainly not be used to store items such as glasses, staplers etc. because you don’t sell them and it only wastes a prime piece of selling space” says Patrick. In fact, his advice is that less is quite often more when it comes to making an impact. Focus & Consolidate he continually says. He adds: “It is important to take a selective approach when planning your display. Cluttering it with lots of brands will confuse people and lead them to picking the first thing they see or recognise − and that’s not necessarily the one you want to push. For maximum impact only one or two brands should be displayed at any time.” You have a number of options when deciding how to make the most of this area. They include promotional displays − branded material, for example, that is available through your supplier to raise awareness of a consumer promotion.

Or you can display the products themselves. Research shows, for instance, that sales can increase by up to 25% when premium products are stocked and displayed in a prominent position, and that includes a spin-off rise in sales of the brand, which alone can increase by as much as 13 per cent.

Patrick advocates that you should double up your merchandised product, to create an impact, abundance is key. “Products can be rotated on a regular 10 day maximum basis in order to drive sales across a number of brands, maintain interest and avoid the temptation to clutter with several brands at a time,” suggests Patrick.