Merchandising Tour: Finding the cool in footwear displays

All too often we resort to showing footwear the same old way on our shoe walls and too often the result is the same -- overcrowding, no organization and slumping sales. Let’s take a different approach and use some of the new footwear arrangements our merchandising editor found at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2011.

The SNEWS® Merchandising Tours (co-sponsored by Outdoor Retailer) at Winter Market and Summer Market trade shows are like a treasure hunt. A hunt for those display ideas that are entertaining, adaptable and give us new ways to solve display and merchandising challenges in our stores. As each show opens, I fear that the ideas won’t be there, but, hallelujah, they are everywhere! Large booths have them and small booths have them, so size isn’t the predictor of creativity. Join me for a look at what displays caught my eye and how I think they can be used to freshen up the retail store environment from Winter Market 2011.

All too often, we resort to showing footwear the same old way on our shoe walls...and too often the result is the same: overcrowding, no organization and slumping sales. Let’s take a different approach and use some of the new footwear arrangements seen at the show:

Mammut created and energized shoe wall display by getting away from a strict horizontal and vertical arrangement by arranging its shelves on an angled configuration. Sure, this arrangement takes up more space but why not devote a portion of your shoe wall to footwear presented in this unusual and interesting positioning of shoe shelves.


Montrail did away with shoe shelves and placed its line of footwear on wires anchored into the sidewalls of the display frame. It allowed the company to show its shoes face forward and angled slightly producing an arrangement that was eye catching and attracted attention -- just what you want your footwear display to do! If you can’t find a way to use wire in your footwear displays, invest in shoe shelves that present shoes face out and use them amongst the more traditional side-view shelving. A wall that shows footwear in side views only tends to be boring.

OK, so the Sorel exhibit at the trade show was just that, a trade show exhibit with a subtle flair for the dramatic. There’s a way you can add take a tip from Sorel and add a touch of drama to your own footwear displays. The appeal of this display is the lighting and the arrangement of boots and shoes. So how about using this idea for a window display? Wedge a wood plank on a slant in your window or place it on two sawhorses. I suggest you paint it black for added drama. Place footwear styles on the board and focus lighting spots downward to create pools of light on the footwear. It is most effective if you limit the styles to one category like boots in the winter and sandals in the summer. Footwear in a display like this is easy to change and can adapt to the seasons.

When the sole of a shoe is special to its function, position the shoe so the sole can be seen. You can simply turn a shoe on its side on a shelf as Vibram did. It is important, however, that the same shoe model be adjacent to it in an upright position so customers can make the connection. Don’t be afraid to ask your footwear vendors for fixtures that will help you display their products.


One of the features of footwear departments I like best is the ability for customers to test shoes and boots on different types of terrain. Some retailers build boxes that they fill with stones of varying sizes and small pieces of wood. I saw this idea in the Sperry booth where show attendees were invited to test the company’s paddling shoes. I liked the aesthetic of its arc shape and it made sense to have it flush with the booth floor. If, by any chance, you have a raised floor in your footwear department, you can create your own shoe testing floor insert.

These are just a few of the “treasures” I spotted at the show. There are lots more and, in future articles, I’ll talk about some great ideas for window displays, fixtures, wall treatments, color and mannequin hints, and just plain cool ideas. So, stay tuned for more from the SNEWS® Merchandising Tours, co-sponsored by Outdoor Retailer.

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 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.



Merchandising Tour: It’s a material world

The difference between an effective display and one that’s ho-hum depends greatly on the materials used. When you spot something that stops you for a moment, sparks your interest and entertains, you’ll undoubtedly know the difference. Whether you were a veteran or a first-timer more