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Cracking the Code to Merchandising and Store Development Success

As marketing and operations managers know, foundational store needs haven’t gone away during the digital revolution.

The design, manufacturing, procurement, delivery and installation of custom signage, fixture and décor programs for hundreds or thousands of stores remain an important and complex process that needs to run smoothly to stay on time and on budget. Nailing this from the outset may not win your company any awards, but it will make you a hero to your marketing and store ops teams.

Think about rollout from the beginning

Translating brand concepts into physical spaces is art and execution. It’s left-brain and right-brain collaboration rooted in real-world challenges that produce innovation that is feasible at scale. And if you’re the one responsible for rolling out an innovation, your focus is entirely on how to manage hundreds of details, deadlines, floorplans and logistics and make it look easy while you’re at it.

Suppose, for example, you’re a CPG that’s been invited into a major national retailer. Great news! Grabbing that positive momentum, your marketing and merchandising teams first create some branded drawings and mockups. Now, what’s next?

A deep understanding of the retailer’s style guide and signage templates is imperative. It’s the same whether you’re talking about a single end cap or a larger store-within-a-store project because you’ll need to consider the design engineering, supply chain implications, installation requirements and more for each location. It’s a headache at best until you’re well-versed in the retailer’s environment, store footprints and opportunities for localization. 

Focus on stress-free execution

You’re already busy and under pressure. Now you must produce a breakthrough customer environment at scale that will generate traffic, sales and loyalty without breaking the budget and timeline you’ve been assigned.

Specific areas that will set you apart include setting priorities and needs for each location and utilizing to understand an advanced logistics software. Now you can localize and scale with a flexible kit-of-parts approach and let technology handle inventory and orders details and keep your installation photos and communications all in one place.

Make the most of prototypes and testing

The renderings for your new store-within-a-store look good, but what if the nationwide rollout includes a variety of store and space footprints? Instead of rushing in with a potentially square peg for a round hole — what if stores use different types of gondolas? — consider creating multiple prototypes, which are adaptable and consistent with brand, messaging and omnichannel engagement. Getting to see the prototypes and making tweaks before delivery and installation often save time and money — not to mention it boosts confidence in advance.

Don’t sweat the digital details

Of course, there is a digital intersect here, as we all know the need to blend cutting-edge technology with the many traditional components in most store rollouts.   

Projects, like developing smaller-footprint stores that integrate impressive but also purposeful technology, deliver an elevated customer experience. But these types of projects aren’t only about adding digital screens to a formerly analog environment and calling it a day. It’s also about projecting forward on how you meet evolving customer wants and needs. You’ll probably also need a customer-focused content strategy and content playbook to guide evolving updates.

Share the work — but keep the accolades

Even seemingly straightforward projects can become complex and stressful. The role of the store is changing as customers rapidly evolve, so the merchandising answers of just a few years ago often fall short. Throw in supply chain and inflationary issues, and the demands on those on the front lines of store development are growing new potential pain points.

An experienced partner who offers end-to-end services and can enter a project at any point of its execution will engage with your merchandising team to stay on time and on budget.

There are many businesses out there that are selling themselves as dynamic customer experience partners. The best partners always will start the same way — by listening. Fully understanding the problem before beginning work ensures the resulting solutions will guide the project through a seamless process that makes the collaborators proud as your brand promise is delivered.