If you are a manufacturer or wholesale distributor selling products in a retail environment, it can be tough to stand out from the crowd. Visual merchandising is one key strategy for bringing your products front and center. One part an appeal to aesthetics and one part science, visual merchandising is a time-honored practice that achieves results.

How can wholesale distributors and manufacturers help their retailers with visual merchandising? Here are a few approaches.

Think Customer Experience

Why shoppers visit retail stores and what they do when they get there are changing. Many shoppers are turning to online retailers such as Amazon and others for many of the products they need. If they no longer “need to shop,” why are they visiting retail stores? For the experience of shopping.

These experience shoppers are impulse shoppers. A study by Point-of-Purchase Advertising International found that in-store decision-making, or impulse purchases were on the rise. 62 percent of those surveyed indicated that they bought products on impulse in 2014, as compared to 55 percent in 2012. These are the customers that are most likely to be influenced by effective in-store visual merchandising.

These changes are impacting the way wholesale distributors and manufacturers need to approach visual merchandising and promote their brands in retail stores. When working with retailers on visual merchandising, make sure to:

  • Provide shoppers with opportunities to experience and interact with your product on end-cap and other displays.
  • Tell your product story visually through graphics and effective signage.
  • Provide plenty of product samples and promotional materials.
  • Train sales reps to help retailers create experiences with your products.

Create Experiences on End-caps

An effective end-cap display positions your product to be an impulse buy, by providing the opportunity to learn more about and experience a product before buying. It’s an important visual merchandising tactic for manufacturers and distributors that want to help their retailers sell more product in stores.

There are three key elements to creating an effective end-cap display:

  • Banner – The banner is signage that introduces the product to shoppers and explains an offer or why they should buy it. For instance, you might create a banner offering a BOGO (buy one, get one) deal on your product.
  • Core – The core is the middle part of the display, which may provide an opportunity to examine or interact with the product. If you’re selling hand lotion or soaps, there might be some testers available.
  • Stock – This is the actual stock that shoppers can take home. Make sure there’s enough. Running out of stock turns an effective end-cap display into an ineffective one very quickly.

Here’s how these three elements play out in your actual end-cap display.

The banner introduces your product and captures the shopper’s eye. The most important element of your banner is an effective value proposition; it should give shoppers a strong reason to buy. The banner should also be visually interesting, placed at or slightly above eye level. The offer itself should be also be something interesting—a special promotion, limited time offer, a new flavor, etc. Finally, banners need an enticing call to action—something short, but effective.

The core or center of your display is approximately between waist and shoulder high. In this area, shoppers can inspect or try the product. Products should be arranged in a visually interesting way that invites interaction, such as electronic product demonstrations, food product samples or personal care testers. Shoppers need to see what you’re offering, so avoid crowding too much product into this area. Ideally, larger items should be at the back, and smaller items in the front.

The final element of a successful end-cap display is the stock, which will be toward the rear or below waist level. It’s critical to ensure you don’t run out of stock, so work with customers to ensure they have enough product on hand. It’s also important to keep this area tidy to avoid detracting attention from the banner and core, and to prevent sloppy stock from turning shoppers off from your end-cap.

Effective Signage

Effective signage informs shoppers of your product and brand, attracts them to your displays and encourages them to experience the product for themselves. Signage has always been an important best practice, but as technology changes shoppers’ buying habits, it is also changing how distributors and manufacturers use signage to attract attention in the retail environment.

One of these changes is the advent of digital signage that allows wholesale brands and their retail customers to deliver more relevant, personalized information to individual shoppers. These displays use RFID and touchscreens to deliver product specific content depending on customer interests and behavior.

More traditional signage is also an important way for manufacturers and distributors to assist retailers with visual merchandising. Regardless of whether it’s digital or printed, signage should include product and branding information along with promotional details that let shoppers know about your product.

When providing signage to retail stores for visual merchandising, manufacturers and distributors should focus on:

  • Brand and Product Information—Informational signs should enhance the shopping experience and help customers find your product. Information about your brand as well as the product or item itself should be included, set up within a product display that is intended to attract customer attention. Manufacturers and distributors can provide placement tips to help retailers optimize placement of product displays and signage to maximize traffic to your product or display.
  • Promotional point-of-purchase—Also known as POP signage, these signs are used to advertise a featured promotion, product or service throughout the store. POP signage is typically temporary and can be used in the store entrance, aisles, customer service area and store windows, and can take forms such as aisle violators, shelf talkers, channel strips, floor graphics, ceiling danglers, end-caps, posters, counter signs, window graphics, banners and more.

Visual Merchandising Best Practices

Some other best practices to keep in mind when designing materials for visual merchandising:

  • Be specific—Make sure the materials you provide to your retail partners include specific details about your products or promotions.
  • Be clear and concise—Customers should be able to read and understand your sign in less than five seconds. Keep it simple.
  • Use headlines—The most effective signage includes a headline, text and a call to action. Leave out any unnecessary words.
  • Don’t forget the call to action—Signs have a simple goal: getting the customer to do or feel something. Signage should tell customers precisely what you want them to do.
  • Know the customer—Work with your retail partners to learn more about customer behavior in stores to determine what type of visual merchandising will be most appealing.
  • Make sure there’s enough—Experience is the key, so make sure customers can experience your product by having enough on hand to interact with and to buy. Giving your retailers a way to place quick reorders online can help ensure that they never run out of inventory.

What visual merchandising practices and/or tactics are working best for your wholesale product or brand? Let us know in the comments.