Merchandising Tour: Success at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market or bust

You've made the investment to exhibit at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, now it’s time to make sure all your visual merchandising ducks are in a row. SNEWS brings you 10 trade show booth merchandising tips to help you maximize your Winter Market investment.

You have made the investment to exhibit at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, now it’s time to make sure all your visual merchandising ducks are in a row. Here are 10 trade show booth merchandising tips to help you maximize your Winter Market investment:

Categorize and map — You don’t have to be a master draftsman to create a quick sketch or map of product and fixture placement inside your booth. Creating a merchandising map can help you identify opportunities before you commit to a solid plan. Maps help you decide how you will categorize your selection, and how you will display each category. Even better? Maps can help you communicate your plan to others.

Color Usage –
Make your color story decision mindfully. Remember that color has enormous power and can either compel or repel. Color has countless attributes and can be used to delineate category, determine traffic flow, provide contrast or set a mood. Know your color strategy before you arrive. Mindful choice of floral accessories helps reflect and pop the footwear in this front of booth display at Dr. Scholl's.

Display – Some displays work at grabbing attention because they are a tiny bit off center, others work because they are effective with color and still others work because of the story they tell about product. Know your plan and remember to view your display from a variety of vantage points and make adjustments if necessary. If you are using body forms in display, suggest action and get creative with accessories. Remember your display should relay an experience and tell a story. Horny Toad’s display tells us summer story with graphics that encourage us to jump right in.


Materials – Sometimes a booth grabs us because of the innovation in materials used or because of the contrast they produce with merchandise. Bright products might need toning down and neutral products might need brightening. The materials in trade show booth construction, fixuturing and display can be invaluable in silently partnering with product. Here, the cardboard furniture inside Sole’s booth is a nice contrast to the bright white walls.


Engage the senses –
Soften trade show auditory overload and show your product in use outside by bringing the outdoors in with elements like plants, water, rocks, trees, etc. Consider adding scent and music to complete the picture.


Signage –
Signage is an extension of your brand and does more than point the way; it also continues your product story like this image from Danner at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. Consider putting your exterior walls to work and tell your brand story, company history highlights and evolution, or share your unique manufacturing details.

Flooring — In the trade show environment, flooring can provide comfort with extra padding and provide elements of color as work as work as a guiding tool by establishing a drive aisle. Here Ruffwear adds visual interest to its fixtures with a colorful floor tile from PLUSFoam, which is also an exhibitor at Winter Market.

Lighting — Lighting illuminates, sets the mood and provides artful elements. Ordinary table lamps can generate a warm living-room type of feeling, LED rope lighting adds gentle illumination to shelving and spotlights highlight displays and products. Dark booths are uninviting and put stress on already overloaded visual senses. Be sure you are adding energy to your visitors!

Customer Engagement 101 — The best visual merchandising cannot stand alone, but needs enthusiastic, knowledgeable and authentic sales support. Be sure your booth workers know how to translate your message and understand how to remain welcoming when exhausted and under pressure.

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst —

  • Gather the tools you will need and consider alternative plans if supplies you are counting on do not arrive as promised or arrive damaged. 
  • Know the area and research potential craft and art stores, rental shops, etc. for those last minute "uh oh’s."
  • Have a back-up plan for displays or product organization that doesn’t quite pan out.
  • Walk the show, get to know your contemporaries and attend the Visual Merchandising Tour on Friday, Jan. 19 to find new ideas!

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 Winter Market and see for yourself. Would you like to join Robin Enright, merchandising editor for SNEWS® and the founder and CEO of Merchandising Matters (, during Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2012 for the sixth 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, Winter Market 2012 -- spaces are limited.



All aboard for Winter Market Merchandising Tours!

It’s hard to believe, but in just a few short weeks the outdoor community once again will gather at the Salt Palace for Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. At OR, innovation is a guarantee in product manufacturing, booth design and visual merchandising. Every show has at least one more