When touching the merchandise is a good thing

Topics: Channel / Retail, FMCG, Point of Purchase, Shopper

How to increase your sales by improving visibility and display, and by making your displays shoppable

– By ShopAbility for Retail Pharmacy Magazine


Last article we discussed some principles of Space – laying out your store, department locations, category layouts. The next few articles in the series we’re going to look at Visibility & Merchandising … how you achieve visibility for categories via display, impulse, cross promotion with other categories, theatre and messaging.

Your chance of a sale increases by 50% if you get a shopper to interact with or touch the merchandise. So this article we’re going to concentrate on some of the display aspects of Visibility, using some shopper behaviour fundamentals.

What is visibility and display?

Broadly, visibility and display is
• What shoppers see
• How we communicate with shoppers instore
• Shopper touchpoints (places they interact with the category) around the store – ‘points of engagement’
• Multiple areas of engagement – not just the primary shelf location.

Visibility strategy can help shoppers find things – how to find and navigate categories.  A lack of visibility strategy can mean things get put in the shoppers’ way, or go where the shoppers don’t look.

You need a plan for the store for what is communicated where, based on how shoppers shop it. Good visibility plans executed well result in increased sales.


The Path to Purchase and Points of Engagement

Shoppers entering your store are on a journey, and how to influence them changes along the points of a journey. This journey is commonly called the Path to Purchase.

From when a shopper leaves home or work, to when they arrive in front of the desired SKU in the store, the shopper journey looks a bit like this:
1. At home/work
2. In transit (car, public transport)
3. Entrance to centre/store (carpark, footpath, building externals)
4. Front of store (entry, welcome)
5. In the aisle/zone (path to decision, decision corridor)
6. At the fixture and pack (decision at shelf)
7. Path to pay (impulse zone)
8. Queue and transaction (more impulse or add on sale, if done right)
9. Exit (reasons to come back next time).

At home/work, in transit, and entrance to centre or store are all about Consideration – branding, prompting, reminding.

Once in the store, it’s all about Conversion: prompt/remind becomes about switch or possibly incremental purchase. Interruption and publicising specials. Upselling (trading up) or incremental selling (adding something on).

‘Points of Engagement’ are areas of the store that shoppers interact with – visually or tactilely, that persuade their decision. Aside from the shelf there are other areas of the store that can behave as Points of Engagement if executed right.

Category visibility

Before we talk about displays – which are ‘icing’, let’s make sure the ‘cake’ is right first.
The cake in this instance is visibility mechanics (signage) which help shoppers find the category they are looking for and then the product within the category.

Each of your categories need to be signed with a category sign – ‘Pain Relief’, ‘Foot Care’, ‘Skin Care’, ‘Vitamins’ etc.  Because shoppers look up when entering and navigating to find a category, the category navigation signs should be both higher and larger than in-aisle (‘within category’) signs.

In the aisle, each category should then be clearly broken into segments (as discussed in the Range articles previously). Each segment should be clearly signed. These signs should be at the top of each bay, and ideally between head and waist height. Theoretically they should also be perpendicular to the shelf so they jut out.  This is because shoppers are moving down the aisle, not just standing still in front of a fixture face-on.

Clear category signage = easy to shop. ‘Easy to shop’ is one of the key determinants of store choice, as we have discussed. All category and aisle navigation signs should have consistent colours/graphics/layout, because it’s the retailer’s brand and colours.

You can vary your signage content (pictures, graphics) a bit from category to category to reflect the type, look and feel of the category (eg pain relief may have a different look and feel to cough and cold, as long as the CATEGORY signs are the same).  You would have seen this in supermarkets where the personal care aisle has different lighting and signage to other aisles.


What is a display?

A display is a price communicated collection of a product or brand that is located away from its main shelf location.

Often the display areas of the store are at the front of store and at the end of the aisles (known as gondolas or endcaps).

Displays may be floor stacks, on pallets or on purpose-built display stands.

What is the purpose of your displays?

Displays perform different functions depending on where in the store you put them.
As we discussed in the Path to Purchase above, the role of displays changes according to what stage of the journey the shopper is on, and on what type of shopping trip.

Front of store: traffic driving
(including those just outside the store entrance)
These are designed to attract traffic to and into the store. They act as attention grabbers and are good for attractive impulse items. They can be used for staples such as toilet paper, but if you’re going to adopt a loss leader strategy (key products at low prices to drive traffic to/into the store), be clear that that’s what you are doing. Otherwise you could simply be trading down shoppers who might have otherwise paid full price for destination items inside the store.


Instore: switch, uptrade and incremental

Depending on location in store displays can act either as a switch from a planned brand to another brand, or an incremental purchase (something they hadn’t planned to buy) or as an uptrade (to a more premium/expensive product or to a larger packsize, both resulting in a higher spend).
Displays on the way TO destination categories could be used for uptrading, upselling or switching the brand/product of the planned destination category. This is because when shoppers are on a mission (ie pain relief, script drop-off) it’s hard to interrupt them from their planned purchase, but what you can do is get them to consider an aspect of the brand/product they already planned to buy.
Displays located in between the destination category and the checkout might work better for discretionary items. This is because shoppers are more open to impulse and unplanned purchases once they have already fulfilled their main ‘mission’.

At and near counter/dispensary: Impulse and Add On Purchase
These are displays of items not on the shopper’s list at all – often emergency, stock up, ‘just in case’, ‘so I don’t run out’ and treat type items.

Where do you put displays?

Where to put displays should be based on major traffic flows in the store and which part of the path to purchase you plan to impact. The best locations are those with the highest footfall and eyeballs – where shoppers go, and where they look. There’s no point putting a big display in a dark corner if nobody looks or goes there.

If your pharmacy is organized into front-to-back aisles, then the ends of each aisle are the logical starting points for displays.

Front to back vs back to front:
The reality is that shoppers approach most aisles (and displays) from both directions, so from an execution point of view the display and its signage need to be viewable from multiple angles, so you’ll need double-sided point of sale.


Simple and bold works best

Here are some dos and don’ts for getting the most out of your displays once you’ve figured out what type of display should go where, and what should go on it:
* How many: less is more. Fewer displays draws attention to the items you do have on display. Don’t festoon every corner of the store with a display; shoppers won’t know where to look.
* Space them out: Too many displays, or too many next to each other means you lose both your point of difference and shopability
* Accessible, not interrupting:  Don’t put them in the way where people have to step around them. This irritates shoppers. Likewise don’t put displays in the transition zone in the first few metres of the store … shoppers still moving/slowing down, on a mission to their purchase and won’t see it
* Make them visible: large enough stand and stockweight to be seen easily, from a distance, by shoppers on the move
* Don’t make them too clever: Minimise the frou frou. It takes too long to set up, and shoppers just want to be able to see what the product and offer is
* Make it shoppable: If it’s too neat it won’t be shopped as shoppers won’t want to disturb it or ‘ruin someone’s hard work’.  Make sure there is some product missing from the display to make it look like it has been shopped and is popular
* Frequency vs wallpaper: If you have regular shoppers, ie once a week, the maximum length of time a display should be in the store is a month (and preferably two weeks). Any longer than that and it becomes wallpaper. You can have specific display AREAS, but change the content of the displays frequently.

Neat display

Example: Too Neat

A good way to remember some display basics is SIMPLE rules:
Siting – where the display is situated
Impact  – is it eye catching – does it command attention
Message – does it communicate the required message
Price – is the product priced correctly and clearly
Life – will the display last and be kept clean and tidy
Ensure safety – displays must not pose a safety hazard

Walk the store using shoppers’ eyes

To figure out what you might need to change from a visibility and display perspective, walk the store, or better yet get someone that doesn’t know the store to walk it. Rate the store using the following questions:
* Are categories consistently signed and easily seen?
* Can I see the category I want from the front of the store?
* Once I’m at a category are there signs for the different product types?
* Are there eye-catching displays in the areas where most of the shoppers go?
* Is it clear what the displays are offering? Are the product/brand and price clear?
* Are the displays of the right products for the part of the store they’re in?  What are they intended to do?

Naturally you should also be doing a comparison of what’s on your displays vs your sales data of those products to see if the displays are having any sales impact.

So that was Visibility & Display 101 … next time a bit more on Visibility. We’ll go into more detail around co-locating displays with other categories, point of sale messaging, and the role of instore theatre.

Until then!