Rearranging Stock to Drive Sales

As I write this, it is less than 10 days until Christmas. So you may be wondering why on earth we think now is a good time to be rearranging stock and your website to drive sales. 

That is because it’s really always a good time to rearrange products. Because moving product drives sales! And this is true both in our bricks and mortar and online shops.

Moving stock around drives customer spend and frequency of customer spend, which are 2 of the 3 ways to grow your shop sales.

Is it Merchandising?

We call it moving stuff around, basically. You may know it more by the rather more sophisticated industry terms: Merchandising, Relaying, or something else. Particularly if you come from a retail background in a large organisation. Whatever you call it, this happens routinely in most large retail stores and is regarded as an essential tool for success. In fact, many of the big brands employ people who focus on merchandising and nothing else. 

If you are the sort of person who gets irritated when they walk into their usuall supermarket only to find everything has moved around [raises hand]: you’ll know it happens. And logic says, supermarkets aren’t doing it because they have nothing better to do. They do it because it drives sales.

That kind of merchandising can be pretty sophisticated. When you have a small shop, things need not be that complex. However it is still true that where products are located in your shop really does matter. And keeping your target customer in mind when rearranging stock is important. In fact, your target customer should be the driving force for most of the things you do to have the best chance of attracting them, and keeping them.

Moving products around fairly regularly can deliver a number of benefits, resulting in extra sales.

Making your shop feel different to the customer

When customers visit your shop, whether that be online or bricks and mortar, you want them to be tempted to buy something. So if they’re a regular customer, moving your stock around means they see different things than they did the last time they came. In an online shop, that could be creating a new category specific to the season. Like a Christmas category, Easter, Halloween. You get the idea.

Of course we all know all the stock that is in our shops. We have lovingly chosen all the things, had them delivered, unpacked them, found the perfect place  and displayed them, listed them all on the website. Your customers don’t see anything like all your stock when they visit, not even close. If they come in for one specific thing, they may barely look elsewhere once they’ve found what they came for. Again, this applies to online shops also. 

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had a product in our shop for ages that hasn’t sold. We’ve then moved it and bingo. It sells the very next day, often to someone who came in quite recently. I like to think of it as a law of the universe: you focus on something and then it sells. Though to be fair, it’s probably more about regular customers noticing things when you move them to a new place 

Whatever the reason, moving an item very often makes it sell. 

Making it seem like you’ve more stock than you actually have

If you’ve had a good run-up to a national holiday like Christmas or Easter, your stocks could look a bit wiped out. Or even if you haven’t had a busy time of it lately, you may be struggling to get new stock from your suppliers. We are almost at the Christmas break now and many of our suppliers close between Christmas and New Year. When they return, they will have a backlog of orders. This means we may not any receive our future orders for 2 weeks or more. We have been ordering in anticipation of this, but the shop may still not feel ‘full’ after a busy shopping period.

Rearranging your shop can make it feel to customers like you’ve had a load of new stock delivered, even if you haven’t. Your customers can’t possibly know everything you have in there, no matter how many times they visit. You can introduce them to new products simply by moving them, thereby making customers aware of them.  

Set it and forget it doesn’t work in shops. Customers become bored and stop coming when they aren’t inspired to do so. When you re-arrange your stock regularly, you are giving your customers a reason to come back over and over again.

Promoting a product or range

Depending on your shop and the ranges you sell, there will be times when you want to promote particular products. If you are in the midst of a very cold snap, it makes sense to promote winter coats. If it’s a heatwave, it makes sense to display air cooling devices.  

Moving product to the ‘hot spot’ in your shop or home page of your website means customers are more likely to find what they’re looking for quickly. Or if they didn’t know you sold just what they need (even when they hadn’t realised they needed it), now they do. 

Stock in the right place at the right time

Big retail chains often run promotions on shelf ends. That space is paid for by the brands. They buy space in those shops to sell more product, and they will have targets with the shop that they are expected to meet. If they don’t, their space will be reduced. And the brands know that if the stock they want to sell is not in the right place, it won’t sell in the volumes they need it to. 

Which tells you all you need to know about the importance of putting stock in the right place in a retail space. 

Shifting old stock

Large retailers often run promotions for particular lines, to drive traffic and/or to move excess stock. It is a technique we can adopt in our own shops too. 

If some of your stock isn’t moving, it may simply be because your customers aren’t seeing itThe items are in a cold spot in your shop, where stock often hangs around. Or hidden somewhere on your website. If you move the old stock around so it is displayed more effectively, you’ll be amazed at what can happen.  

If you have a lot of old stock, it may be that you simply aren’t moving stock around frequently enough. Plan to do it regularly, with the seasons, like the big shops do. They do it because it works. And plan to move lines logically, not just for the sake of moving. So throw in a few upsells (the plants next to the plant pots, the beer kits next to the beer making equipment). Have a flow to it all. It sound so obvious, some of you may be wondering why on earth I feel the need to mention it. I’m saying it because we all forget. We all see our shops every day and don’t see what customers see. Especially not what new customers see.  And if they don’t like what they see, they may never return. 

And when it comes to your website, key an eye on those ‘promoted products’ on your homepage, if you have them. The mere fact that you’re promoting them means they should sell more quickly. It doesn’t look great if a customer arrives at your online shop and your promoted products are all sold out. It took a lot of time, effort (and potentially cost) to get them to our shopfront for the first time. Let’s not fall at the first hurdle!

It can be hugely valuable to get a trusted friend to come in and look around your shop, give you some honest feedback, a fresh pair of eyes.  

Doing it for Yourself

And the final great reason for moving stock around in your shop? It makes you feel so much better. Following a particularly busy or slow period, freshening up your shop space will benefit you as well as your customers. They say a change is as good as a rest, and moving your shop around can make you feel different too. And when you feel better and more positive, somehow the sales just start flowing again. If you think that sounds a bit woo, well maybe it is. But it’s also true, you’ll see 🙂

So once Christmas has past, we will be going back into our shop and website and rearranging things so that our customers get a fresh experience when they come back to us in the New Year, even if none of the stock is new. To give ourselves a fantastic, fresh start to the New Year.

Rearranging Stock to Drive Sales

Keeping the shop looking and feeling fresh with stock frequently rotated, whether that be online or in the physical shop, is on our ‘3 ways to grow your shop business’ rapid growth roadmap. That’s because it drives customer frequency (more likely to come back often) and customer spend (more likely to spend a little more than they otherwise would have). Find out more in 3 Ways to Grow your Shop Sales.

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