Merchandising is like marketing. Every business owner has likely heard of it. They have a vague idea what it is. They know it is important and that they should be doing it and getting better at it. The problem is they don't know how and further, they think they don't have the time.

Like the man said "you better make time." Merchandising is nothing more complicated than offering your goods in a manner that puts your customers in a buying mood. Merchandising is why grocery stores don't like empty spaces on shelves and why car dealerships put the sports cars indoors under high-intensity lights and surrounded by glass. Your store can work the same magic with an acrylic stand, some time thinking about what makes your products appealing and a little experimentation.

Products that look inviting draw customers in. They get customers interacting with your showcase and displays. They allow a customer to imagine themselves owning that product. They bring your customer to the anti-resistance threshold. More on that in a moment. In the meantime, how do you make all this work?

Spotlights for All

The key to making a retail display interesting enough that customers simply can't resist getting close to it is to make every product look as if it is the only thing on the shelf. This is accomplished with spacing, arrangement of acrylic risers, lighting and a general understanding of what draws attention and the human eye.

Making each product appear unique is fairly simple. The ideal arrangement is one where no product competes with another on the same level. Two products sitting right next to each other cancel each other out. This isn't a problem with a long row of books or something that stacks, like soda bottles or boxes. With high-ticket items like shoes and jewelry, on the other hand, it's confusing and overwhelming.


Consider for a moment your store signage. If you have a single word in bold-faced type in the exact center of an enormous white sign that is 95% blank except for that single word, you will have no problem getting people to focus on your message. All that matters once you put that sign up is what word you choose.

The same principle applies when you are trying to merchandise and you want to emphasize a product. Empty space repels the eye. Centrality attracts it. So if you have something in the exact center of a big open space, the only thing you can do to make it more prominent is to shine a spotlight on it.

This "negative space" principle, so to speak, is applicable to almost any product display, and can be utilized again and again, even on the same shelf.

Getting your products in front of the customers most likely to buy is not only a process of trial end error, but it is a process of understanding the human mind. People are generally rather lazy and they are very easily confused. Presenting them with a big red button that says "buy me" is far superior to presenting them with a huge number of intricate little decisions.