Natural Foods Merchandiser

Selling Smart: Wow customers and your bottom line with visual merchandising

What do your customers see when they walk into your retail establishment? Do they see colorful displays with vibrant signage? Or do they see visually unappealing displays? The simplest way to at?tract customers to a product is through visual merchandising. Learn to merchandise your shelves to create a full, clean and inviting feeling with strong visual impact.

Displaying products
It's vital to have a merchandising system for arranging new items appropriately. This will help manage the integrity of each product section, so current items can pave the way for new items arriving on your shelves.

When a customer stands two feet away from the shelf, he or she only focuses on approximately four feet of the display. To maximize the visual space for your customers, make sure the placement of existing products complements new products whenever possible. For example, when adding a new children's cereal, consider creating a display that includes organic apple juice, soymilk, dried fruits, and possibly a colorful sign that says, "Smart Starts for Your Kid's Day." This will add excitement to your shelves, bring attention to new items, and help increase sales.

When introducing new products on an end cap, place those items in their "new location" within their category section as well. This will help your customer learn where the product will be located once it's removed from the end cap display.

Maximizing shelf space

  • Vitamins: You should create a natural flow within your vitamin bottle display. Arrange vitamins from largest to smallest, starting with the largest bottles on the top shelves. Follow the two-finger rule for a nice look—the spacing between shelves and product should be two fingers wide. This also maintains manageable space for rearranging products.
  • Supplements: Moving supplements closer together in a section can increase space by about 10 percent. Look at your supplement section (bottles, not bulk) and see if you have any opportunities available to maximize space.
  • End Caps: End caps need to look full. Eye-level shelves should be filled with product, but the top and the bottom shelves can have false fronts. Put product across the front, maybe two deep, and on the sides (turn those products sideways) so the shelves look full even when they aren't. You could also remove the bottom three shelves and place stacks of products to fill the area. Adding a companion product is also a good idea.

Raising a bottom-shelf product up a row may increase sales by 10 percent. Best sellers should always be at eye level, with large, heavy items on the bottom.

Moving product
Effective signage can serve as a "si?lent salesman." Have products that aren't selling? Before you eliminate the product, use creative signs such as "manager's special," "employee favorite," "10% off" or "buy one, get one free" to help it sell. Signage is key to visual merchandising and can help bring sales to a "non-mover" item.

Once a product needs to leave your shelves, ask your brokers or sales contacts if they will buy out the non-mover and replace it with a new, exciting item that will improve sales.

Lastly, it's essential to find the right person to merchandise your products. He or she should have a "Type A" personality and pay close attention to details and neatness. You want someone who will have a merchandising vision to help create an inviting product display that will maximize space and store sales.

Debby Swoboda is president of DS Marketing Solutions, a marketing agency for natural products retailers.?Contact her at 772.287.8118 or

Click here to order a copy of Market Overview 2007.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 6/p. 32

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