If you’ve been to a grocery store recently, you’ve likely noticed the American flags and barbecue supplies have been swapped out for pumpkins and baking essentials. The holidays are quickly approaching, meaning retail merchandising strategies are at the forefront of every retail and consumer brand professional’s mind.
According to recent consumer surveys from Shopkick, a leading shopping rewards app, many consumers are headed in-store to get their shopping done. This includes 92% of this year’s back-to-school shoppers surveyed and 43% of holiday shopper respondents — who were surveyed separately by Shopkick. This is a significant spike compared to last year, where only 66% of consumers surveyed planned to shop in-store for back-to-school and 34% for holiday shopping. In order to maximize influence on in-store shoppers’ purchasing decisions, brands and retailers must implement effective merchandising strategies and ensure that these promotions are not only thoughtfully displayed but also strategically driven.
When it comes to merchandising, the holidays are the prime time for creative and strategic execution. Whether it’s product discounts, creating a pop-up activation or investing in engaging window displays, merchandising is essential to capturing attention and driving sales. In 2019, Target launched a holiday pop-up across from New York’s Chelsea Market called Wonderland, complete with gaming spaces, toy shops and interactive physical and digital activities. This was to not only deliver a memorable experience but to increase in-store engagement and online traffic. The entire experience was free for the public to attend but allowed Target and its participating suppliers to capture invaluable insight on shopper behavior during a pivotal time of the year.
For all merchandising strategies, analysis is critical — especially after a year and a half of unpredictable shifts in consumer behavior. Brands must develop new strategies to meet the evolving needs of their customers this holiday season, and they can start by asking themselves: What information do we need to succeed at this moment?
Using Execution Measurement And Store Level Data To Win
Promotional execution is key as shoppers prepare for major shopping seasons like the holidays, but the smartest brands will go beyond execution, finding innovative ways to not only successfully execute in-store promotions but really understand the factors driving purchases in-store.
To get a sense of what drives consumers, retail brands should focus on measuring display and in-store promotions in outlets where they also can access store-level sales data from their retailers. Each brand has its own unique audience, so as helpful as external data can be, true insights can best be garnered from within a merchandiser’s own ecosystem. By combining rich execution measurement with store level scan data, brands can determine what was well executed, what execution variant drove the most sales, if their point of sale (POS) materials were worth the cost and if promotion placement played a significant role. Brands utilizing this type of granular insight to modify merchandising plans have a competitive advantage and can nimbly adjust merchandising plans to yield the greatest lift in sales.
By understanding the factors that drive shopper impact in-store, brands can drive meaningful, continuous improvement — during the holidays and beyond. By embracing innovation and digital technologies, such as dynamic merchandising tools or computer vision to digitize store shelves, brands can learn more about what conditions drive shoppers to interact and make purchases.
Highly seasonal products depend on strategic merchandising to reach sales goals. Unfortunately, many promotions in-store leave no noticeable increase in sales — or negatively impact scans at the register. This holiday season, it is crucial that brands prepare early and sort out promotions, assortments and inventory in stores, while simultaneously gathering data that they can use to make better decisions in the future. As consumer behavior continues to shift and the desire to return to a more “normal” retail environment intensifies, having execution data combined with store-level data is paramount in order for brands to succeed. A carefully laid out strategy will result in delighted consumers, valuable insights and increased sales at a critically important period for brands.
This article was first published on Forbes.