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Cart Appeal
Cart Appeal

How you display and highlight merchandise has a real impact on your sales

Craft stores often face a juxtaposition of sorts. Even the smallest craft store carries a wide array of products to cater to the supply needs of many different kinds of crafters. But each crafter who walks through the door has a specific area of interest. So how do you funnel each crafter to the items he or she wants, while still maximizing your sales?

In short, craft store owners and operators need to organize their stores in a way that makes shopping convenient for narrowly focused customers, while still exposing them to other purchasing opportunities. It's both art and science, and store managers need to constantly work to get it right.

Think like a customer

It's the first rule of shelf stocking: If you want to drive sales, you have to think like your customers think.

"I always like to put my customer hat on," says Susannah Schultz, a merchandise space planner at Darice. "Customers usually don't have a lot of time, they probably have kids with them, and they don't want to be there any longer than they have to be. So, in a big store, how can I find what I need without canvassing the whole store?"

That means grouping items by related use. Scrapbooking aisles should contain hole punches, scissors, albums, markers and stickers. If an item has multiple uses, consider stocking it in multiple places. "For example, basic tape is a product with many uses for many projects, so it would make sense to stock it in different places," Schultz says.

The time of year can also impact how you stock. Seasonal displays can splice into your year-round crafting displays, giving you an opportunity to highlight merchandise that might otherwise stay in the background.

"For any given season, you should try to take relevant items and mix them in with the seasonal items," says Jennifer Bullis, a senior category manager with Darice who has extensive previous experience in store merchandising.

"During the Christmas season, you might take scrapbooking supplies and put them in with your seasonal Christmas items, with the idea that a customer might want to create a Christmas scrapbook or handmade card. It gives the customer all those items right at their fingertips, alongside the other seasonal items."

Utilize end caps

End caps and standalone displays provide a great opportunity to highlight both seasonal and trending products. Many store managers keep a close eye on sites like Pinterest for an inside look at what customers are into, and what their stores will need to place front and center.

"For instance, burlap became really big recently as a crafting item," Bullis says. "So burlap is now something you would want to stock in multiple parts of the store, and something you might find highlighted on an end cap." Bullis recommends using three main criteria to determine what gets highlighted in an end cap display.

"Is it a seasonal or color trend, is it a new product, is it trending on sites like Pinterest?" she says. "Those are the things you should consider first." And the closer to the front of the store a display is, the better. If you want customers to see it, make sure their eyes fall on it when they walk in the door.

"It's something that can really vary by store," Schultz says. "Each store has a different layout and a slightly different customer base. But generally, you want to have seasonal products and trending items in the center aisle."

Adjust your approach

"It's something that can really vary by store," Schultz says. "Each store has a different layout and a slightly different customer base. But generally, you want to have seasonal products and trending items in the center aisle."

"We create planograms, which are schematics that show how products can be displayed at a store," Schultz says. "Sometimes a buyer will bring in a new item that we'll want to highlight within one of our planogram kits, so we'll move some things around. We're always trying to make our displays cleaner and tighter."

Every adjustment you make should be done with an eye toward increasing the convenience factor for customers. That includes not just product placement, but signage and price tag placement and maximizing use of the shelf space at eye level. "Within each department, you want the cleanest presentation possible," Schultz says.

"You want a customer to be able to scan it and find products with minimal difficulty. You want signage that doesn't change font, and display pegs that are consistent and don't change your eye level. Simply put, you don't want to make things topsy-turvy for your customers."

In a large specialty store, it's an ongoing process to keep things clean and simple, but it can be accomplished with proper planning. "Craft stores tend to be very big and SKU-intensive, so it does take a good deal of organization to create the look you want," Bullis says. "You can't be everything to everybody at all times, so you always have to decide what you want to highlight."

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