What’s Your Merchandising Vision
Another way to look at maintaining your merchandise positioning is to ensure that each product earns its way into your catalog before you add it to the lineup, says Andrea Syverson, president of IER Partners, a catalog consulting firm in Black Forest, CO. Before a customer understands and/or believes in your merchandise concept, you as the merchant must ask, “What’s in it for me?” That is, what’s in it for your brand by placing this product in your catalog? And equally important, what’s in it for your customers?
Syverson says your answers will help properly position each product within the context of your overall merchandising concept. If you’re struggling with those answers, she recommends you drop the product.
Why so harsh? “Every product that doesn’t enhance the brand message detracts from it, while every product offered that doesn’t provide real solutions to a customer’s needs is a waste of your customer’s most precious resource: time,” says Syverson.
For an illustration of just what is a merchandising vision, let’s look at two catalogs these consultants say are among the best at creating and sticking to their products’ positioning.
Merchandising Vision: “A Casual Lifestyle”
Chuck Howard points to Crow’s Nest Trading Co. as a catalog that hits creative home runs. It’s a home catalog that caters to a relaxed lifestyle — “and that comes through in its products and in its catalog’s pages,” he says.
Cary Tennis, executive vice president, director of merchandising, for Crow’s Nest, says merchandise positioning means “having a consistent product line with a ‘look’ that differentiates you from other catalogs and appeals to a distinct socio-economic group with strong similarities in lifestyle and interests.”
The first step to establishing a merchandising vision is knowing your target customer, says Tennis. “Who is going to buy your products? What do they do for leisure? Where do they travel? What are their demographics?