In this report we’ve taken a snapshot of merchandising today, noting progress made since last year. While this is a variable picture, there’s a general sense that retailers are improving the way they show their products, improving images and enabling sharing through wishlists and social networks. If we had a quibble it would be around the dimishing use of product information, which we believe remains vital to customer communication.
Where do we go from here? What’s the long-term strategy? As Giles Colborne says in our emerging practice feature, the future will lie increasingly in selling services rather than goods. Retailers will need to work out not just new ways of selling, but new ways of merchandising items that customers don’t yet know they want. To do that successfully, the sales pitch must be both personal and relevant to the shopper. We foresee a rapid move towards personalisation at scale. As those at the cutting edge start to serve their web visitors and email list highly relevant messages and website pages, customers will start to expect this kind of personal attention wherever they shop. In essence, this is about improving the service traders offer shoppers through their merchandising. As some improve, other traders will need to move in that direction as well, and we expect that we’ll see real differences when we revisit this area in coming years.
But if traders are to achieve this without exhausting their resources, they’ll most likely need to find new and smarter ways to make their case. That’s where new solutions and smarter approaches to merchandising will come into play, and we look forward to hearing of them as they emerge. For one thing’s for sure: the way retailers sell will continue to change, and fast, in coming years. Retailers need to prepare in earnest for what lies ahead.