Innovation Combats "Me-Too" Merchandising

By Steve Di Orio
Posted in Store Management
On August 05, 2011

What sets you apart from you competition?  Why does one retailer sell the same product quicker than another?


Everyone has an equal opportunity to buy the same goods from the wholesaler or manufacturer. It’s the retail displays in your store that counts.  Ease of selection, full and complete presentation, and making purchases rewarding to customers are what will put profit onto the bottom line.


“Any fool can give away merchandise but it takes a merchant to sell it.” Many years ago that comment was heard as a retailer explained to a customer his and his store’s feelings about the price points selected for a particular item.


At that very moment I realized retailing wasn’t merely an art but a science as well. The fact that people don’t buy just because of price alone wasn’t going to be easy to understand. Could Sheri and Steven Public survive the corporate challenge of continuous psychological testing of how high to merchandise for best results, of which colors make for better packaging and therefore better results, etc.


In this retail game, you begin to feel uneasy about competition.  Everyone’s stores look better, you believe.   So unwillingly, without thought, you begin to play “me-too-merchandising."


The irony of playing that way is that by the time the followers look like the leaders, the leaders are off to something better and more appropriate.   Merchandising, product selection, retail displays, layout and design – an outsider sees only the results.  Unfortunately, the results don’t show how the pieces of the puzzle were put together.  Equally important is the information that leads to those results, the thinking that goes on behind the scenes.


You can’t copy someone else’s formula. You have to understand that your stores should have their own statistics, goals and results. Only then can you begin to merchandise, display, design, select products and increase profits more effectively.


We’re all aware of the changes that have taken place in retailing recently. What I have noticed is that many merchants have forgotten basic retailing principles and are just copying each other.  You’re asking me to make your stores “like the other guy’s stores.”  I can do that, yes, but why would you want me to?  Retailers who ask me to do this generally can’t back up the request with solid research. They figure if the competition’s doing it and seemingly making a profit, they can do it, too.


Retailers, who view store fixtures or gondola shelving merely as a shelf on which to place goods to sell a product, or as a necessary evil, receive just that in return—a plain, non-selling shelf.   Conversely, if retailers look at store fixtures as a means of increasing sales by properly displaying merchandise so the consumer can easily see, compare, learn about and most important, select goods that’s exactly what the right retail store shelves will do.


Evaluate again and again, over and over, merchandising decisions from your point of view.  Ask your customers for input and begin creating your own improved retail environment using creative retail displays. We can all be successful and we can all be good innovators if we want to be, provided we remember that copying doesn’t work in retailing.

Steve Di Orio

Steve Di Orio

Steven DiOrio has been with Handy Store Fixtures for over 11 years. After becoming the Marketing Manager in 2006, very recently he was named Director of Marketing. Currently, Steven is pursuing his MBA from Montclair State University with a specialization in Digital Marketing. When not at work, he loves to travel, play golf, exercise, and talk all things search engine marketing.