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Merchandising tips for diving sales during COVID-19

Published: October 31, 2020
Author: Amit Ratanpara

Here some merchandising tips for diving sales in COVID-19.

  1. Carefully plan your assortments

If you haven’t been selling online, tap into industry data by looking at your competitors and similar players in your market. You can use tools like Rising Retail Categories, an interactive tool that lets you “understand fast-rising retail categories in Google Search, the locations where they’re growing, and the queries associated with them.”

  1. Make your in-demand products more accessible

Once you know what your money-makers are, dedicate the appropriate shelf space for those items. In the age of COVID-19, this could mean having more space for your high-demand items versus displaying multiple product lines.

You need to ensure that your top goods get even more shelf space, so shoppers can move about and quickly get the items they need without crowding other people.

Here’s a good example from Kohl’s, which devotes a relatively larger display for basic apparel pieces such as plain T-shirts and tank tops.

  1. Pivot your current offerings

Once you have a good grasp on consumer trends and have identified your high demand items, it’s time to reposition your remaining current offerings. For instance, knowing consumers are spending ample time at home, Lululemon is choosing to feature clothing items related to comfort and ease.

Book, music, and home goods retailer Indigo has a dedicated section on their website featuring “Top Gifts for Dad.” This content couples books and relevant high value items. They have even created gift guides based on interest.

  1. Promote health and safety from the get-go

Enticing people to buy your products starts with getting them through your doors. To do that, you need to instill confidence and promote health and safety even before they walk in.

Sharing your health and safety measures and interfacing with customers on digital channels like email and social media are must-dos.

In addition, your storefront should also do its part to win over shoppers and drive traffic.

  1. Minimize high-touch displays

While we’re usually big fans of interactive in-store elements like touch-screen displays. Unfortunately, these things are a no-no in the age of COVID-19. Eliminate them for the time-being, along with other unnecessary items that invite touching (e.g., product samples).

If you typically present product information through interactive displays, consider using old fashioned signage. Trader Joe’s does this really well. TJ’s uses traditional signage that are hand-drawn. They often contain colorful illustrations, to make them eye-catching and engaging.

  1. Use signage wisely

Signage is one of the most important tools you can use, particularly in an environment where there are new rules and rapid changes.

Make use of store signage and floor decals to direct traffic and communicate need-to-know information.

Check out this sign from Trader Joe’s. It contains helpful reminders on how customers can stay safe and get the most out of their trip to the store.

And as always, supplement your in-store efforts with digital communications (email, website, social media).

The supermarket Sprouts makes good use of simple signage by having arrows on the floor along with stickers telling shoppers where to stand when waiting for their turn at the checkout counter.

  1. Implement a design or layout that feels “open”

“Shoppers feel more comfortable in an indoor environment when they can subconsciously sense exit routes, thereby countering the deep-ceded feeling of claustrophobia,” writes Kartik Uchil, co-founder of Freshtags.

As such, he recommends “visually sleek” racking systems as opposed to using bulky fixtures. “De-clutter the space by eliminating floor-to-ceiling shelving,” he adds.

Oleoteca Gourmet, a Madrid-based store that sells olive oil and gifts. The store uses shelves that aren’t too big and have a good amount of distance in between, thus giving the shop a more open feel.

As for your window display, Uchil writes that they “should be left unobstructed with the main display fixtures moved to the center of the space.”

  1. Use antimicrobial shelves and fixtures if possible

If you’re looking for more ways to keep your customers and employees safe, equip your store with bacteria and virus-resistant countertop maps and displays.

This retail counter mat, for example, allows you to insert printed signage so you can showcase promotions or announcements. The pad has a built-in Microban antimicrobial product protection, which has active ingredients that resist the growth of microbes.

Meanwhile, the retail merchandising company siffron offers a bacteria-resistant system that features removable tiles which protect and showcase food while curbing the growth of bacteria.

  1. Keep up with product education

With additional sanitizing and health and safety protocols in place, your front-line staff have a lot going on. Still, as you update your merchandising strategy, take the time to keep staff informed about product offerings. If you use an app like Compliant IA, you can create regular, short, education product posts to push to all stores. With read-receipts and follow-up tasks, Head Office can ensure product knowledge is transferred.

Social media is also a great place to cross-merchandise by presenting product collections. For instance one Toronto-based yoga studio, Beaches Hot Yoga, is using Instagram to reenforce their product message that the yoga gear they sell can now be worn everyday, all day.



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