Holiday Merchandising During COVID-19

While this holiday shopping season is set to be much different for retailers than years past, research shows that many of your customers are still planning to shop in person and spend as much (if not more) than they did last year. That means that retailers must do everything they can to increase margins and recover from the losses caused by the pandemic, and that starts with optimizing the holiday merchandising process.

Start With Data

Tap into your point-of-sale software and look at the trends. Focus specifically on your most popular products and brands or the commonly purchased SKUs, along with overall categories. Shopper demands have changed drastically in the past months and trends will reflect that; make sure you’re fully aware of which direction those trends are moving. Consider which items in your inventory you should be prioritizing and promoting in order to meet those shopper demands and keep those central to your merchandising efforts.

Push What’s Popular

While numbers may show that projected revenue won’t drop much, what shoppers are buying this holiday season will reflect what’s currently happening in the world. For example, there’s been a steep rise of working and learning from home, and holiday gatherings and get-togethers have been canceled. Highlight the products in your stores that make it easier and more comfortable to celebrate from the safety of your shoppers’ own homes, and underscore the importance of those products with merchandising displays that echo that sentiment.

Merchandise Strategically

Once you have a better picture of which items in your store are helping to drive revenue, reconsider your store plan and layout — with social distancing in mind, of course. Swap out smaller, less accessible merchandising displays for those with more shelf space for larger volumes of products that you know are more popular, and will sell well based on the data you’ve collected. Don’t overwhelm shoppers with clutter; the key is to help them find what they want the most as quickly and easily as possible. 

Keep It Safe and Healthy

The same survey mentioned above also offered some revealing insight about what your customers will be expecting from an in-store experience. They don’t want to stand in long lines or travel through busy stores for health and safety reasons, which means retailers should take extra steps to offer peace of mind. Promote social distancing with queue corrals and minimize high-touch merchandising displays that could make it hard to clean and disinfect the store.

Don’t Forget the Signage

Using signage helps inform anyone entering about any changes to hours of operations and communicate important reminders about new rules. Floor decals and aisle markers help direct the flow of traffic safely throughout the store. Signage can also supplement merchandising displays and educate shoppers about new items or brands that are holiday-specific or seasonal, minimizing face-to-face interactions with employees and boosting product awareness. 

Get Digital

Many shoppers will head online to learn more about a retailer, so give them what they want before they step foot inside. Post photos on the business website and social media accounts of the holiday merchandising displays and offer gift ideas in the posts. Create “themes” like stocking stuffers or home office must-haves, and let customers know exactly where in the store they can find the items to streamline their shopping trip. 

Watch Your Inventory

Supply chain issues have created quite a headache for retailers, which means they have to carefully track inventory and be proactive to avoid selling out of the items customers want the most. Using inventory and shelving systems means retailers can stock up and have popular items on hand in back rooms and storage areas while also offering an at-a-glance look at inventory levels for ordering purposes. 

Leverage Impulse Buys

For all those customers that plan ahead and start holiday shopping early, there are as many who wait until the last possible moment to grab that perfect gift. Make it easier and quicker for them to live on the edge by using point-of-sale (POS) and point-of-purchase (POP) merchandising displays close to the cash register so they can get in and out — even if it’s under the wire.

This holiday season, optimized merchandising, highlighting health and safety, and creating a stellar in-store experience will be key for retailers of all sizes and across all industries. Get in touch with our team to learn how we can help make that happen!