The first impression consumers have of a product is on a store shelf—make it a good one! Effective merchandising with the right product assortment can give you a sustainable, substantial competitive advantage, even with big retailers. It is key to the health of your store. Shoppers can’t buy products if they can’t find them.

Product placement shelf managementEffective merchandising includes all shelf management and product placement on shelves. It can maximize category sales, drive in-store shopper traffic, increase market basket size and give you a competitive advantage in your market. An effective strategy communicates your commitment to shoppers. What can they expect from your store? Great selection, fair prices, health-focused, community involved…This is reflected in your marketing strategy.

True shopper loyalty isn’t embossed on a plastic card. It’s earned. An effective merchandising strategy can convert casual shoppers into loyal evangelists. Time started shoppers want convenience and to shop stores that best meet their needs—friendly, easy-to-shop stores with a good product selection at a fair price.

An effective strategy needs to first focus on how you compare to other stores. What is the shopper’s perception of your store compared to every store in the market, even the big stores? This is what matters most. Take a few steps in your customer’s shoes and look at this from their perspective.

You need a good balance of branded and store-label products. Branded products drive shoppers into your store with their promise of consistent quality. Shoppers use branded products to compare your store to the competition. How do you price top-sellers compared to your competitors? Decisions to switch to a store label product are made afteryou earn trust—at shelf.

Product assortment and segmentationFeaturing the right products on shelves in the right place is key. Most stores merchandise items grouped by category and by brand. A more effective strategy: Merchandise items around the way shoppers use the products, for example, shopper need state (the solution they are shopping for). This allows consumers to quickly find all the items on their list. Shoppers with a cold appreciate stores that merchandise all cold and flu items together.

Segmenting makes the category easier to shop by product type, size, quality, flavor, color, scent, brands, etc. The challenge with the way most stores segment their category is that it does not always take into account how customers shop your store. A better strategy: Merchandise products based on the shopper market basket. Working backward, identify ways to make it easier for customers to easily find and purchase the products they want.