Clever merchandising is essential for businesses at all times of the year - but particularly during the festive season. Different techniques must be used during the Christmas period to boost sales in November and December.
Encouraging your customers to spend their hard-earned cash with you this
Christmas should be at the top of your list - and there are numerous tools to help shape their buying behaviour. Visual merchandising is a proven technique that encourages footfall, invites customers to stay longer and turns browsers into buyers.
Making people feel welcome during their visit is the number one aim, as this is likely to encourage them to return time and time again and also to tell other people about your store.
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Launching Christmas merchandising
Christmas merchandising is far more than hanging up rows of sparkly tinsel and spraying fake snow on your windows! It's a way of creating a memorable experience for customers, engaging their interest and showcasing your stock in a particularly appealing way.
Some people say it's never too early to put up the Christmas decorations, but the general consensus is that if you decorate your store too soon, it can look jaded by December. According to a survey of retailers, some stores flooded their shelves with Christmas goods as early as the beginning of September!
The survey was conducted in September and retailers who had already finished putting up their Christmas decorations claimed it made staff and customers "feel happier" and gave the store a "more welcoming" feel.
According to American psychoanalyst Steve McKeown, in a world full of stress, Christmas decorations create a warm and comforting feeling, taking us back to nostalgic, magical memories of our childhood.
Despite this suggestion, in the retail world, it is generally accepted that putting up the Christmas decorations before Halloween is out of the way is a step too far! For most stores, by the time the last werewolf masks and skeleton suits are in the bargain bins, the Christmas sparkle is rolled out.
Putting up Christmas decorations at the beginning of November is generally deemed acceptable and a way of increasing footfall in the run-up to the festive period.
An attractive and engaging window display is the first thing people see as they walk down the high street. It can turn passers-by into potential customers. The big retail brands have specific visual merchandising teams, who have been planning their festive shop front for months.
Even if you're a small retailer, the Christmas window display is the key to your success. Although you're unlikely to have the same budget or staff resources as your larger rivals, this doesn't mean you should let the festive season pass you by. You can still create a Christmas display, while keeping within your budget, building a positive brand identity that tempts people to come in from the high street.
Consider how you wish your brand to be perceived, the story you want to tell and your target audience. A good source of inspiration is Pinterest when looking for ideas for an eye-catching Christmas display.
Create a mood
Create a festive mood in your store by using a combination of decorations, colour and light. Bold colours will attract attention and frame your products, while adding strategically-placed Christmas decorations will put the festive focus on the areas of your choice.
There's no need to go overboard with the tinsel, as it can end up looking tacky. Try out various ideas while your store is closed, taking into account the colour scheme, coloured lights, spotlights and anything else you can think of to create a festive feeling. Then, you'll be all ready to launch it to the shoppers at opening time, without any hiccups. Traditional Christmas colours include golds, greens and reds, as these will create a warm, nostalgic vibe, appealing to the customers' sense of magical Christmas celebrations of years gone by.
If you're looking for a more modern, contemporary feel, try cool hues such as silver, white, blue and purple. You can also choose colours that complement your brand and your logo. The aim is to generate an emotional connection between your brand and customers.
Find an effective way of showing shoppers how your products will fit in with their day-to-day life. Point out why they need your goods and the benefits they will provide.
Creating a mood that makes people warm to your brand at Christmas will increase your chances of selling more goods. A prime example is the legendary Coca-Cola advert, where the giant truck is making its way around the country at Christmas. Synonymous with Christmas, it links Coca-Cola with family, friendship and good times.
Showcasing your products
Although it would be difficult to replicate the success of Coca-Cola's Christmas advertising campaign, you must showcase what you've got in the best possible way. How you position, display and group your merchandise will have a direct effect on how well your goods will sell.
Study the layout of your shop and make sure you're exposing customers to the maximum amount of goods, in order to optimise the sales opportunities. Some larger retailers "herd" shoppers around in a circular format, forcing them to walk around areas they may not necessarily have chosen to visit. This can result in them picking up additional items as they browse and buying items that they didn't specifically go in to purchase.
If you feel your layout needs attention, bear this in mind. If you're not able to reorganise the layout, create key focal points instead, with the creative use of display shelves and other units. Try displaying products at various heights, on shelves, in baskets, on hangers and anywhere that draws the attention. Use signage to attract customers to key items. When shoppers can't easily find what they're looking for, they're more likely to leave empty-handed and go elsewhere.
When organising your Christmas visual merchandising, try displaying the products by type, as if they are in use. For example, if you're selling a table, combine it with complementary place mats, cutlery and a festive centrepiece. This type of display inspires customers to imagine how it will look in their own home and they are more likely to purchase additional accessories to complement their main item.
Display smaller, cheaper items, such as novelty gifts that can be used as stocking-fillers, at the point of sale, as this can boost the value of every transaction.
If you don't have confidence in your own artistic abilities, draft in a freelancer to help on a temporary basis to guide you through the Christmas period.
Improve your customers' Christmas shopping experience by investing in KAS Shopfittings' range of high-quality and affordable shop fittings. We supply shelving, counters, slatwall, card racks and more.