Visual Merchandising Operations: The dangers of “spread-sheet retailing”

Many a good and potentially commercial idea and initiative has never made it from the boardroom to the operational teams, never mind the stores themselves.

The complexity of the modern store portfolio has added to this problem, as stores develop a mixture of owned and franchise stores, international coverage and increased store grading and clustering by customer demographic and catchment.



Simply one solution will not fit all and in many modern retailers the current solution fits none, falling between the needs of individual store operational needs in an attempt to satisfy all.

Bridging the gap from good HQ intentions to commercial and consistent customer focused stores always involves the integration of cross-functional disciples and then a collaborative vertical delivery to the selling space.

Important operational integration which is often lacking includes the space planning and management of stores. Correct processes should grade stores and their physical capacity to hold product considering both their physical limitations and their ability to drive traffic, convert and ultimately sell.

The distance between spread-sheets and store fixtures is often a calamitous one where the mathematical machinations of store grading focus solely on the broad parameters of store sales and square metres. The essential details of measuring sales productivity by linear metre and the store capacity of linear metres and display metres ensure that this broad brush can paint an attractive and successful customer experience, rather than the blunt and ugly appearance of too many retail outlets today.

The detailed understanding of stores, their capacity and sales opportunities is the driving force that allows the visual merchandising function to flourish, delivering consistent and commercial store experiences directly and decisively delivered from the confines of the head office pilot store to the myriad of physical environments.

The detail is also the catalyst that allows buyers and merchandisers to plan visually and quantitavely for real space and real linear metre displays and not just the theoretical grey space of anonymous retail outlets.

Every retailer has its opportunities and priorities in improving the details of its space planning, management and vm operations  and delivering as a result higher rates of sale and lower mark downs and wasted assortment. Do you know what yours are?

Tim Radley, and VM-Unleashed, work across many retail sectors identifying specific problems within the space management and vm operations functions and recommending aggressive actions to improve the situation.

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