Today when so many shopping malls, supermarkets and hypermarkets are opening up, each one is competing hard for the customers' money. There are more choices available for consumers than ever before. In such situation retailers must develop business strategies that focus on creating as well as maintaining customers, one by offering customers a differentiated shopping experience. Merchandising and display are important issues that need serious attention in enhancing customer shopping experience.

Such big retailers spends lot of money in getting high traffic location but if customers dont find anything systematic, unique and attractive, they may just pass away from the door or if visited will try some other place to shop next time.

Merchandising is much more than simply the arrangement of products on the shelf, it is also about understanding the way customers shop.

Hand written boards, posters covering the door and walls, lack of lighting, untidy displays convey that you are not serious about business. So retailers need to create an environment that not only attract customers but also give feeling of comfort and satisfaction, which act as inducing factor for their next visit.

Following are the tips to make customer shopping an amazing experience for them:

Store Front and Windows:

If the store has big front and windows, retailers should exploit it by putting creative displays and offers. It may include sale announcement, about any new product introduced, or about new seasons collection. Any information to be put on front should be attractive and in accordance with cultural norms.

Product placement in store:

Put the most popular and latest products in front. New products which are attractive and create interest in the mind of customers should be put in the most visible place. Dont try to keep every thing on display. Keep the display clutter free.

A store area can be classified into three types: main merchandising, display and cash. The merchandising area is where customers are visually bombarded with products available for purchase. The cash area is where the final sale takes place and is an excellent area to place small accessory items that appeal to impulse buying. Display spaces are used to create visual excitement and draw attention of customers. It also gives opportunity to create awareness about the new products and varieties available.

Take photos of the display and keep record of the product sales during this existing display. Save this information for future reference. It can even help in evaluating different display styles.

Store should give a balance view with respect to color as well as size of item placed. Generally heavy looking items and darker items should be placed near the bottom of a display. Placing too many items, or heavy items on one side create unbalanced view.

Effective Signage:

It is one of the easiest ways to convey message to the customers. Information about store name, pricing, promotions and product information may all be conveyed through signage.

Do's for professional signage:

■ Visible and legible
■ Emphasize on main message
■ Place it where it will catch maximum customers' attention
■ Right amount of information with clarity
■ Attractive for customers
■ Simple and contrasting color schemes to be easily read
■ Use trendy and powerful colors
■ Light should focus on interior as well as exterior signage
■ Look it from customersf point of view to analyze it
■ Look for consistency on all store signage

Don'ts for professional signage

■ Confusing and misleading messages
■ Placing too high on store building
■ Spelling errors
■ Hand written signage
■ Conveying too much

Lighting:

Lighting is very important factor to be considered. Proper lighting on display can catch attention of customer and even arouse interest for the product. Dull lighting can make customers yawn.

Light should not be thrown directly from the top; also shadows that spoil the beauty of display should be avoided. Lighting should enhance the three dimensional image of the product. When display arrangement is changed, lighting should also be adjusted.

Track lighting can enhance colors. Track lighting can be used as accent lighting to show up specific merchandise and adding excitement. It can also be used in illuminating wall displays. Ambient lighting is the general lighting, which in many cases is fluorescent lighting. Upgrade lighting whenever it is essential. Store windows can be a good source of lighting.

The Store's aroma:

A pleasing aroma can create a wonderful ambience which adds to the customers' shopping experience. Many of the stores are using scents to boost retail performance. It is observed that with a pleasant aroma flowing in the air, individual experiences a flow state which results in spending more time in the store, and thereby they buy more items from the store. A store must create scents that are consistent with its theme. In a female section the scent should produce a feminine smell.

Scented candles can be used to give special effects to store. Which type of scent to use is a very sensitive issue? Two things need to be considered: first, it is consistent with the product type. Second, it is as per the preferences and sensitivities of target consumers.

Music:

Music is another technique of pleasing the customers. The types of music to be played again depends on product and target customer, for e.g. store selling trendy cloths and have a young target market, fast and funky music is suitable. In most other cases, music should just give a background effect. Slow music reduces the pace of human traffic and increases sales.

Music should be just loud enough to balance the noise created by customers, employees and machines.

Some General Tips:

■ Racks should be placed far enough from each other to allow movements without touching the racks.
■ Make changes in store displays and windows at least every month during the holidays.
■ Use the colors that help to set mood and feelings.
■ Magazines can be the best source of ideas for displays.
■ Pretend you are a customer and take a look at your store.
■ Before placing the products, drawing a quick layout can help in visualizing the plan for your design and avoids unnecessary movement of goods.
■ Keep the things simple. The customer convenience should be the ultimate goal.