Will your merchandise stand out this Christmas?

No matter how exciting a new product is, if it isn’t displayed effectively then it won’t get the attention (or sales) it deserves. 

Christmas is the busiest and most profitable time of the year for many brands. Consumers are actively looking to buy and most will welcome any guidance or inspiration that comes their way.

However, don’t just assume that because this is a peak selling period that sales figures will automatically rise. Marketplaces, both physical and digital, are overcrowded with companies jostling for attention―all trying to make the most of this lucrative period.

It’s no longer enough to simply have a presence; if brands really want to reap the benefits of increased footfall, they need to do whatever they can to stand out and position their product as the ultimate gift. With such a large proportion of retailers and brands now online, never has it been so important for stores to provide a better shopper experience in-store.

With this in mind, one merchandising trend that all manufacturers should be looking to tap into this Christmas is the concept of Myer’s giftorium where gifting ideas are set up with a range of displays (usually across one floor) arranged into specific categories or themes.

Every Christmas since 2014, Myer has set up its giftorium with categories including For Her, For Him, Tech Guru and Kids Cubby, among others. Not only do consumers love how it makes shopping easier ―essentially providing a convenient one-stop shopping experience that saves them from having to traipse up and down multiple floors―it also brings Christmas to life by adding to the spectacle and drama of the season. What’s more, it is these customers who love the theatre of Christmas that are more likely to shop in store rather than online in the first place.

Brands that have their products showcased in these types of displays are sure to receive maximum exposure during the festive period. Of course, certain products may be relevant for not just one but several categories, providing them with the chance to reach new customers and further increase sales.

Having products brought together like this ensures that merchandising has maximum effect, which is vital for brands looking to capitalise on Christmas. With so much to consider during the festive season, more companies are turning to field sales and marketing agencies, that offer specialised retail and merchandising expertise to ensure sales are being maximised. 

As bricks and mortar stores continue to face increasing competition from the online marketplace, the use of specialist field agencies to outsource staff and optimise merchandising and buying opportunities is a growing trend.

With Amazon set to descend upon our shores in the next year, retailers are being pushed to balance between convenience and shopper experience and stores need to deliver at least one of these exceptionally well to succeed. Displays need to dazzle and an exceptional level of service is required with expert advice and hands-on demonstrations that can’t be replicated online. 

Following are three important merchandising considerations to help increase sales this Christmas:

Capitalise on opportunities

Field marketing agencies can support brands in their participation of giftorium-style displays by making sure they’re regularly stocked, visually compliant and retail ready for purchase. For example, those outside a giftorium-style environment can still take advantage of Crossmark’s Speed to Market offering that enables brands to roll out a national sales campaign across 2,500 stores in just one day.

Always meet demand

A field agency can help minimise any out of stock issues. Hopefully products will be flying off the shelf during the peak Christmas period so it’s important to support the retailer with their merchandising displays. When faced with a product that is out of stock, retailers may replace a product’s position with an alternative brand or product to visually improve the display. To reduce the risk of this happening, field agencies can visit stores by developing a tailored approach based on demand to protect key stores and maximise sales.

Bring your brand and product to life

Making sure that shoppers are aware and engaged with products through demonstrations ensures there is a much greater chance of closing a sale than simply just leaving the product on the shelf.  An in-store brand ambassador can help to drive a category and intercept a shopper’s path-to-purchase. Growing demand for dedicated brand experts is a strategy many brands are adopting and field agencies such as Crossmark are specialised to deliver.

Using a field marketing specialist to deploy ambassadors allows brands to leverage the agency’s experience and systems to efficiently deliver key messages to customers by highlighting product features and benefits. Depending on a brand’s objective, field marketing staff can be used to engage and soft-close sales, perform live demonstrations of a product and/or train retail staff to amplify their ability to sell your products.  

 By Andy Kirk, CEO, Crossmark Asia Pacific