What is Merchandising?

There are always new and exciting ways to promote a business or specific products. One of these is merchandising, but what is it and how is it done? Let’s find out.

Merchandising: A definition

Merchandising is the method of selling products to customers, either online or in-store, using display techniques that influence browsers into buying a specific item. The successful strategy will depend on many factors including, but not limited to, the industry, quality of products, space on the shelf or site, and whether the purchase is being made in-person or online.

Below, we’ll define some common types of merchandising and techniques to make it work.

Types of merchandising

  1. Product merchandising: All promotional activities used to sell a physical (CD) or digital product (album downloads), either online or instore, including shelf displays, special offers, suggested products, on-site searches, and homepage features.
  2. Visual merchandising: Display methods to showcase the products, whether in-person or online, including lighting, colour palette, eye-catching displays, floor plan, and use of sharable content.
  3. Retail merchandising: All promotional activities used to sell items in a physical store, including placing the product at eye-level or having add-ons at the till.
  4. Digital merchandising: Promotional activities to sell a product online, including site performance, email marketing, and digital displays.
  5. Omnichannel merchandising: The process of unifying the customer experience across all points from advert to social media channel to website to emails to store and more.


A good first impression

The first thing a customer sees will likely be the website homepage or the window display, which means that both have to highlight the best parts about the brand so that customers are engaged enough to click on a menu or walk through the door. Once they’ve made that leap, the chances of them buying something rises significantly.

Light it up

Lighting is a good way to influence mood, as we’ve seen from the movies, so choosing the right lighting is about much more than allowing customers to see a product. Warmer light can make customers feel more relaxed, which is ideal in a candle or book store, while cooler lights can seem technological, which is good in an electronics store.

Brand awareness

Customers will often buy from businesses that they know and a good way to increase the number of people that have heard of a company is through branded merchandise, like bags for life with the store logo, or promotional products like free pens at the till. National Pen is an industry leader in branded corporate gifts that will increase brand awareness.

Increase traffic flow

This is the number of people physically entering the store or clicking onto a site, but just like on the road, no one likes to get stuck in a jam, so while increasing the footfall and the clickthrough, its vital to prevent blockages. This might mean moving products around the store to create a smart path to follow and invest in website upgrades to prevent lag.

Merchandising is an ever-changing field, especially with the surge in digital shopping over the past year, so this is only a small fraction of what there is to learn, but now that you have the basics, you can build on that to create the best strategy for your company.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.