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Is your merchandising helping to deliver good customer service?

There has been much written about the importance of providing good customer service in the retailing business, but unfortunately much of the advice doesn’t touch on the important role that good merchandising plays, particularly in Convenience stores. 

A variety of consumer research articles have clearly demonstrated that the location of your store, the ease at which customers can get in and out, the attitude, knowledge, and friendliness of your staff and their ability to handle customer transactions quickly, all have a significant impact on whether customers believe you provide good service and whether they will regularly patronize your store.  

In addition however, in a small, self-service store such as a convenience store, the way you merchandise the store can have a great deal to do with your ability to consistently deliver this good customer service.

Consider the following merchandising techniques and their impact on service:

Organization:

If your store is properly laid out, and careful thought has been given to the location, organization, size and height of the fixtures and the size of the aisles, it will be easy for customers to move around the store, and they will be able to quickly find what they want.

Cleanliness:

If your store is clean, (windows, floors, walls, counters and merchandise), the customers will believe that you care about them and the quality of the products you are selling, and they will be more comfortable shopping and buying food and snacks.

Displays:

If your product displays are organized with like products together or adjacent, best sellers in the prime selling position, and impulse products in the high traffic areas, customers will be able to find what they want faster and will probably spend more.

Signing:

If you take the time to properly sign your store with the categories you carry, the features and specials you offer, and the prices you are charging, your customers will be better able to find what they want and they will know what price they are going to pay.

Assortments:

If you are going to be able to satisfy the needs of your customers you must pay attention to your assortments and make sure you are carrying the products, sizes and brand names that they want to buy. Your customers are often loyal to particular brand names, and you will only satisfy them if you carry their favorite products.

In-Stock position:

You can only be “convenient” for your customers if you are always in-stock of the products they expect you to carry and that they want to buy. If you are out of stock and you therefore force them to buy a substitute product, or go elsewhere to get their favorite product, you are no longer “convenient” and you will quickly lose them as a customer.

Cash Desk Organization:

Your customers, almost universally, want to be able to get in and out of your store quickly. In the process, they must stop at your cash desk to pay, and it therefore becomes the “nerve centre” for your store. As a result, the way in which you keep it organized and merchandised will effect their impression of the quality of your customer service. The cash desk must always be clean, uncluttered, with ample space for them to put down their purchases and it should include frequently changed displays of high demand, impulse merchandise.

In summary, the way in which your merchandise your store, and the day in and day out merchandising standards that you maintain will have a significant effect on your customers impression of your service and how much your care about them. Not only will good merchandising compliment the quality and effectiveness of your staff but it will generate additional sales and profits.

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