Behind the scenes: The unsung heroes of merchandising teams

Written by 
Dee Set Staff
4 July, 2024

In-store merchandising provides much more value than just improving the aesthetics of products on the shop floor. It’s a targeted field marketing strategy that possesses the ability to boost awareness and sales for brands. 

With thousands of brands silently battling in the aisles to try and catch the fleeting attention of shoppers, developing an effective merchandising plan is vital for brands that are focussed on longevity and sales success. 

Over the years, we’ve worked with some incredible names in the industry and are proud to be seasoned players in the field marketing game! Having delivered merchandising solutions that transform the customer journey and also maximise a brand's return on investment (ROI). 

We don’t just talk the talk. Don’t trust us? Keep reading. 

The power of field merchandising

Truthfully, field merchandisers don’t get enough credit for the work that they do.

From managing replenishment duties and stock tracking to setting up compelling displays, merchandisers carry a lot of responsibility on their shoulders and their work is a huge component of the retail sphere. 

With 62% of shoppers purchasing items on impulse when attracted to an appealing display, it’s incredibly important to create a seamless strategy. 

Supporting this, McKinsey recently shared insight into merchandising that revealed:

‘Many companies are seeking out new approaches to creating efficiencies, and many are adding cutting-edge digital tools to their armories’. 

From more traditional concepts to a more technology-focused approach, it's clear that brands and retailers see the power that merchandising can possess. The question is, how much will they invest in it to see maximum returns?

But what about the merchandisers themselves? Have you ever wondered about those responsible for setting up these engaging displays or what it takes to be a good merchandiser?

Need help with your merchandising strategy? Hear from one of our experts

Our Head of Retail Performance (North), Colin Thornton, shares exclusive insights into our own personal merchandising strategy. 

Good for you, good for me. Never underestimate building relationships

According to Colin, at its core, field marketing is all about building connections. 

We build a connection with brands and customers so that we can build a great partnership, aligning with their values and understanding what they want so we can deliver results.

We want our merchandisers to be the eyes and ears on the ground, providing our clients with an exceptional service that they can trust. 

One key part of the merchandising role includes the management of inventory. Field merchandisers have a responsibility to maintain optimal stock levels in-store to avoid overstocking or stockouts. 

During this, merchandisers have to keep an eye out on price points to ensure that they are accurate, keeping any promotions or sales in mind.

Additionally, by following an established planogram, merchandisers are responsible for maximising the visibility of products by optimising the placement.

This is to ensure that they are in a prime position to increase the likelihood of sales and that they are easily accessible. 

A huge part of why merchandising is so important is because of the performance monitoring aspect of it.  Within this, gaining sales data for a range of different products and categories is important. 

Here at Dee Set, we infuse this process with technology by providing our teams with cutting-edge systems and image recognition software to help organise their tasks and improve their communication efforts. 

Your merchandising team may just be the secret to improved customer experience

Merchandisers deploy various strategic and operational activities to help boost the customer journey, says Colin. 

Their contributions ensure that the in-store environment is:

  • Appealing
  • Products are visible
  • Customers are satisfied

An important responsibility for a merchandiser includes optimising the store layout. 

This makes it easier for customers to find what they need and discover new products in a logical and intuitive manner. 

Merchandisers should keep this in mind when it comes to product placement as they will need to ensure that products are placed in high-demand areas and that high-margin products are placed in prominent locations which are easily accessible.

Merchandisers will need to follow the pre-signed-off planograms that are provided by brands to help them build eye-catching displays and signage.

As mentioned before, stock management will also help to increase customer satisfaction as merchandisers will ensure that high-demand items are always in stock, reducing the likelihood of customer frustration due to unavailable products.

As new arrivals of stock come in, merchandisers will need to regularly update displays to keep the shopping experience fresh and exciting.

On a day-to-day basis, merchandisers will also strive to maintain a clean and well-stocked environment to create a pleasant shopping environment.

Visual Merchandising Guide | Dee Set

What it takes to be part of a merchandising team

Contrary to belief, merchandising isn’t just about making things look nice, reveals Colin. 

The merchandising process actually involves a lot of skills that are vital to the success of the overall strategy. I believe a great merchandiser has a combination of:

  • Analytical prowess
  • Creativity
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication skills 
  • Strong interpersonal skills

One important skill for merchandisers to possess is the ability to analyse data and be confident using technology. 

This is essential for keeping an eye on inventory. Our dedicated merchandising software streamlines in-store offerings whilst also giving brands key insights when it comes to customer behaviour, compliance adherence, and planogram matching. 

Additionally, it's so important for merchandisers to pay great attention to detail when it comes to product presentation. 

It is essentially their responsibility to manage how a consumer perceives a brand which can be a make-or-break deal when it comes to whether they make a purchase. 

Merchandisers will also ensure that the shop floor is in optimal condition alongside ensuring that prices are clearly displayed and promotional signage is accurate.

Another important skill for merchandisers to possess is great collaboration skills. It is essential that a merchandiser can work alongside other merchandisers and other shop floor staff. 

In the nature of the role, merchandisers may work in close proximity to others in the business, so ensuring that great relationships are maintained is essential for a seamless working environment.

Our merchandisers thrive with our ‘one team approach’ which is something that truly unites us as a team. That’s why having collaboration skills is so important! 

Everyone in our team is focussed on a shared goal and we’ll all chip in with support, knowledge, and advice and help each other out where we can.

Lastly, it is important for a customer to have a strong desire to meet the demands of consumers. It is essential for merchandisers to focus on creating a shopping environment that enhances the overall customer experience.

Now you know the skills, what about recruiting?

Here at Dee Set, we’re a people-centric business that truly cares about our colleagues, which is why we felt the need to revamp the traditional hiring process. 

This is to ensure that we’re providing potential candidates with an engaging experience that they will benefit from, regardless of the outcome. 

We first focus on getting to know the real personality of the candidates, which is why all candidates will take part in an automated chat-based interview that is both mobile-friendly and completely clear of any bias. 

After candidates complete their application, they will receive a personalised feedback report highlighting their strengths. We then let them know if they’ve been successful in moving to the next stage of our interview process, either by phone or face-to-face. 

We’re big on upskilling our colleagues and supporting them through developing themselves in their careers. That’s why we use a range of advanced HR tools and development resources to ensure new staff have everything they need to hit the shop floors running!

We utilise a platform called Thrive which is our innovative learning experience platform. 

We ensure that we include modules tailored specifically to each candidate's:

  • Role
  • Interests
  • Future plans

Our colleagues can utilise Thrive at any time to help them develop new skills to be the best that they can be!

Additionally, we use Blink, a smart internal communication hub that allows our merchandisers to stay connected with their wider team. 

This enables colleagues to get support from their team leaders, including one-on-ones, courses, and essential skill-building insights.

Staying consistent despite innovation

To ensure that our clients are getting maximum coverage for their brands, we ensure that our merchandisers are located within 10 miles of 97% of big-name stores in the UK, says Colin. 

This means our team is always ready to support with 365-day promotion for the brands that we work with! 

Our incredible merchandisers take a whopping 60,000 photos per week for client reporting and complete 40,000 merchandising hours per week!

Lidl Electronic Shelf Labels

With a host of technical innovations on the rise, I think we’re in the midst of big changes that will shake up our normal merchandising process.

Our close location and all-year support means brands shouldn’t be scared of innovation. 

For example, I think we can expect to see a huge rise in the use of AI and machine learning which will help brands take in valuable data which can help them to:

  • Identify trends
  • Forecast demand
  • Optimise their inventory management

In turn, this will help merchandisers complete the work that they do up to such a high standard, keeping the consumer in mind. 

One retailer that has really upped their use of AI is Tesco which introduced ‘Clubcard Challenges’ for their shoppers which will really enhance the customer journey.

I also expect to see a significant increase in the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). These technologies help to enhance the consumer journey, consequently increasing customer satisfaction. In turn, merchandisers will be responsible for the set-up of these displays.

Something else I expect to see is the rise of ‘real-time’ analytics which will help merchandisers to make informed decisions on the shop floor. 

More recently, I’ve seen more retailers, like Lidl, adopt smart shelves which can monitor inventory levels in real-time, automatically triggering restock orders and reducing the risk of stockouts. 

This will save so much time and will enable our merchandisers to handle other pressing tasks.

Are you looking to engage new and existing customers? Let us help!

With innovations and new approaches to merchandising increasing, now is the perfect time to transform your merchandising strategy.

We can help you understand your customer base - their needs, expectations, and shopping habits. With this knowledge, you can implement strategic retail merchandising that keeps your shoppers happy and their baskets full.

Still on the fence? 

Our years of experience and professional expertise ensure that we devise effective merchandising plans tailored to maximise sales and boost your bottom line. 

Get in touch today to find out more! 

Dee Set Logistics Ltd/Dee Set Confectionery Ltd, trading as Dee Set, registered in England, Scotland and Wales. Registered No: SC208421/04297287.Vat No: 896110414.