Merchandising Tour: A word about walls

Walls are useful because they hold a lot of merchandise, are generally highly visible, and make great palettes for adding color to the retail space. Take a quick tour with SNEWS to see just how effective wall space can be.
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To make effective use of your walls takes more than just a word. It takes several -- knowing how to present products on walls, what materials to use on walls, and how to get walls to attract customer attention. Walls are useful because they hold a lot of merchandise, are generally highly visible, and make great palettes for adding color to the retail space.

The Black Diamond exhibit at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2011 was a prime example of a wall presentation that captured attention through its use of color, design and uniqueness. You can see from the attached photo that graphic designs on the skis were utilized on the walls behind and to the side of the displayed products. What are harder to see are the wall sections that stepped out 8-10 inches every four feet and supported the POP signage.

The company could have constructed a flat wall but, instead, broke up the long wall with the slim strips giving it dimension. It’s a technique that retailers can utilize. Long expanses of slatwall should be broken up to create category separators and, more basically, create interest. Find a way to insert a vertical line every four to six feet along the slatwall. It could be a simple piece of 4 x 8-inch gator foam board cut into two 2-foot vertical strips, painted (or drawn on) and attached to the slatwall at intervals or offset a few inches. If it can relate to designs used on the products displayed next to it like Black Diamond’s, all the better.

During the SNEWS® Merchandising Tours (co-sponsored by Outdoor Retailer), the question was raised about the Black Diamond wall graphics distracting from the displayed product. That’s a valid question. Retailers do have to be careful to make sure display materials or props do not overshadow their products. In this case, the booth walls were so well executed that the graphics actually enhanced the skis and became part of them. Kudos to Black Diamond for doing something different and for giving us “eye candy” in a crowded hall.

As in past seasons, Prana continues to impress with its sidewall displays. The displays are the work of the company's retail merchandisers and are always inventive, thematic, and whimsical. Retailers could easily replicate the feel of the Prana displays and add a new element to their stores by devoting a piece of wall to a Prana-like display. It doesn’t have to be as extensive as Prana’s and could be a simple 4 x 8-foot piece of foam core. Create a theme, give it a nifty title and add a few messages you want to impart. Decide which products you will display to tell the story then search for interesting tools, or objects that illustrate your theme.

Prana’s used a ski/skate/snowshoe theme, drew a mountain scape on the walls, added props and made the clothing the focal point. Check out the “snowballs” below the wall. Very cool! The company’s clothing display techniques were not the usual ones. Who says you have to show shirts on hangers or mannequins? Prana folded them and secured them with clothespins or hung them from metal spring clamps. Do pants have to hang vertically to be attractive? Obviously not. Prana showed them sideways.

Both Black Diamond and Prana created “out of the box” visual presentations. Although there are display and merchandising techniques that we all utilize (or are told or read about), there is really no right or wrong. What works for some retailers might not work for others. Creative retailers constantly look for better ways to engage their customers. They aren’t afraid to try something new and different. If it works, great! If not, try another approach. That’s part of the fun and the challenge.

The SNEWS Merchandising Tours are designed to provide inspiration, ideas and the confidence to think “out of the box.” Join one of the Merchandising Tours at the Summer Market and see for yourself.

Would you like to join Sharon Leicham, author of "Merchandising Your Way to Success" and merchandising editor for SNEWS®, during Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2011 for the fifth Outdoor Retailer Merchandising Tour program, co-sponsored by Outdoor Retailer and SNEWS? Email merchandisingtour@snewsnet.com to put your name on a contact list for more information and to ensure your name is on the registration list for the next Outdoor Retailer Merchandising Tour Program, Summer Market 2011 -- spaces are limited.

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