Merchandising Solutions that Enhance the Store Experience  4/2/2017

Since I’ve moved into my new apartment last October, I’ve bought two LED lamps – one for my office desk and one for my living room, installed LED light bulbs in my home office and bedroom, and have an inventory of LED bulbs in several sizes as replacements for the remaining bulbs when they fizzle out.

Indeed, the affordability and variety of LED lighting technology has changed the lighting game forever, including how retailers light their displays in the store, which was one of the most talked-about trends at ECRM’s recent Merchandising Solutions EPPS in Las Vegas. “LEDs are as hot as they’ve ever been,” said one attendee. “They really highlight the product and make it stand out.”

This was also the topic of one of several educational sessions held at the EPPS meetings, during which Cam Cloeter, CEO of Impulse Marketing discussed how strategic LED lighting in the store can help drive sales and enhance the overall shopping experience by illuminating the path to purchase in the center store, feature brands, and improving navigation. “Lighting has the power to invite and communicate,” says Cloeter. “When you put lighting on a product, it looks fresher, it looks cleaner, it’s a much better presentation, and it moves you to buy more frequently.”

Additionally, LED lights are more energy efficient and last longer than traditional lighting, enabling retailers to recoup their investments over time.

Another technology that has become more versatile and affordable are digital displays, which enable retailers to complement this enhanced lighting with interactivity at the point of sale, particularly at a time when shoppers are demanding more information about the products they purchase. Millennials, in particular, are interested in learning the back story of the products they purchase – part of the transparency they are demanding from suppliers and retailers. So, for example, a video about the Fair Trade farmers in Costa Rica who grew the coffee beans featured on your shelf goes a long way toward gaining favor with these consumers. Of course, these displays also offer the ability to run more promotions, as well.

Line Management Solutions
All of the effectiveness of LED lighting and digital displays is for naught if the enhanced shopping experience is marred by a disorganized crowd at the checkout counters. This is where newer, more sophisticated queuing solutions come into play. “Single-line queuing is taking hold and is applicable everywhere,” said one attendee.

I certainly know a few retail chains that would benefit from single-line queuing. At grocery stores lines are not as much of a problem, since the longer checkout stations tend to help organize shoppers, though when the lines extend out to that zone between the aisles and the checkout it can get a little messy. However, at retailers that have those bank-teller style checkouts – one long counter with several cash stations – shoppers are always confused as to whether there should be a line at each register, or a single line for all of them, and so are constantly jumping in front of one another, whether intentionally or not.

An effective queuing solution not only makes the checkout process faster and smoother by leaving no doubt in the shopper’s mind where to go during the checkout process. It also provides retailers with the opportunity to merchandise additional impulse items pre-checkout, as Frank Bishop, SVP of Sales for Innovative Fixture Solutions discussed during his presentation on front end merchandising. In fact, many new queuing solutions come with merchandising capabilities built into them. Walgreen’s Duane Reade stores in New York use such systems that clearly indicate where to enter – one way in, and one way out – and so eliminate any question as to where and how to line up at the checkout. What’s more, they have impulse merchandise all along the path to the registers.

Such systems are especially important for self-checkout areas; the key is to have the merchandising done before they get to the self-checkout units, not at the units, because once shoppers get to the self-checkout, their focus is on the transaction itself.

Bottom line is, all of these merchandising solutions -- whether lighting, displays, or line management – should enhance the store experience; they should help shoppers easily navigate the store, to find the products they are looking for (and maybe some extras they weren’t looking for), and, when they are finished, to quickly pay and get outta there!

Joseph Tarnowski

VP Content

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