The Art of Merchandising

Katie Urban

St. Catherine University ‘17

Friday, January 17, 2017

Merchandising is a tactic used by retailers to welcome and entice customers to enter a store and look around in the hopes that they will make a purchase. Merchandising involves the presentation of merchandise whether it is on a mannequin in a store window display or the way products are arranged on a rack or a shelf. During my time in India I noticed various similarities and differences in the way merchandise is displayed compared to the way it is done in the United States.

During visits to local markets and street vendors, I observed crowded merchandising similar to that of a garage sale. Products were stacked on top of each other in piles. In order to view the items one would have to scavenge through the multiple piles in the hopes of finding something special. However, the sales person appeared to find each item with ease. By simply describing what you were looking for, the sales person would turn around and present you with various options that matched your description. The merchandise was also typically not marked with a price tag of any kind. In order to know the price of the item, you would have to ask the sales person. They would take a look at the item and then come up with a price. At these small shops prices were usually negotiable if you were willing to haggle. When it came to finding an item or knowing the price of an unmarked item, I was amazed at the organized chaos of these street vendors.

The experience was quite different when visiting more established boutiques and retailers in mall settings. The merchandising in these shops was similar to that of the United States. Clothing would be arranged on racks lined along the walls. In some cases the clothing would be arranged by color as can be seen in small boutique shops in the United States. In other cases the brightly colored clothing would be intertwined creating a bright and lively atmosphere. Home décor was merchandised in a similar manner. Color coordinated items would be shown together to create a visual theme or story to appeal to the consumers aesthetic style. In most cases the prices of products were marked and non-negotiable. I found the shopping experiences in these types of shops to be more within my comfort zone and familiar to what I am used to in the United States.

No matter where you are in the world, the purpose of merchandising remains the same: to encourage customers to make a purchase. Merchandising creates an experience for the consumer. My experiences of shopping in India varied from being overwhelmed by the amount of merchandise to being amazed by the beautiful colors and elaborate details of each product.  What I learned from this experience is that there is no right or wrong way to merchandise, but rather merchandising is an art used to appeal to customer.

Street vendors along the road. 
Colorful clothing in a boutique.

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