How often do you go to the grocery store to find that your favourite product is sold out or is out of stock? How does this impact your customer experience and your perception of the retailer and the brand? If you are in the consumer packaged goods or retail business and this has happened to you then you now know how frustrating this type of occurrence can be from a customer's perspective.
Good retail merchandising is the key to a brand's success as it relates to brand perception, sales and customer retention. When a customer visits a retailer and items that they are looking for are not there simply because they have not made it to the shelf or, worse, are out of stock, it hurts the perception of both the brand and retailer.
Think about it. If you love Tide detergent and on your weekly grocery runs to Loblaw's you cannot buy it two weeks in a row, what would you do?
1. You may switch grocery stores and start shopping at Metro because Tide is always in stock there. In this scenario the retailer is impacted.
2. You may switch brands of detergent, deciding to buy Sunlight instead. In this scenario the brand is impacted.
3. You may become frustrated, decide to switch grocery stores and go to No Frills, for example, to find that there is a huge cost savings by switching to the store's "No Name" brand detergent. In this scenario both the brand and retailer are impacted.
In all three scenarios, had the brand been in stock and on the shelf, the customer would not have been inconvenienced and the brand would have retained its customer. We gave Tide as an example, which is a well-known item with massive brand recognition in the marketplace as well as a dedicated customer following. This brand may be considered "worth" switching retailers for. Many other brands may not yet have gained such consumer loyalty, which is why the stakes are high in retail merchandising.
Outside of offering a fantastic product, accessibility and reliability is a huge factor where customer retention is concerned. Products that are not properly merchandised (price tags are not on merchandise, for example) and not adequately stocked, result in lost sales for the brand and retailer and, in the worst case scenario, can result in a shift in customer loyalty.
Retail is extremely competitive and if you are a customer whose retailer is not carrying what you need you can be rest assured that another retailer (competition) within close proximity will. Something as simple as working with a company who offers retail merchandising services will ensure that the perception of your brand is not impacted by issues that occur at the retail level. Retail merchandising is something that requires constant attention to ensure that at any given time your product is in stock, on the shelf and priced, ensuring the accessibility that the average retail customer expects.