So Many P's on Your Plate!

As an independent retailer, you probably have a lot of things on your plate, mostly a lot of P's. Most people working in retail have heard of the 5 P's: product, price, placement, promotion and people. But there is another big P floating around out there, one that is all-encompassing and often overlooked. Here's a hint: it starts with a P (surprise!) and ends with resentation!

Presentation, also referred to as Visual Merchandising, is the secret binding ingredient that combines product, placement, promotion, price, and people to create the ultimate P for your business: profit!

a dash of presentation turns a boring plate of peas into an exciting dish! 

a dash of presentation turns a boring plate of peas into an exciting dish! 

Here is how visual merchandising can affect multiple aspects of store operations:


Many retailers are careful about choosing the type and quality of products sold in their stores. Buyers forecast what their customers will likely purchase and enjoy. Sadly once the product is unpacked in the stockroom, there is often little thought about how it will be presented on the sales floor. For example, a buyer for a small market may discover a new brand of artisan salsa that is made with locally sourced, organic ingredients and decide to sell it in the store, knowing the health conscious customers would love it. Unfortunately, without proper presentation, customers could walk right past it or reach for their usual brand of salsa. The new salsa could sit on the shelf gathering dust if not properly showcased to highlight its features. Selecting the right product for your store is extremely important but don't let it end there. Use visual merchandising to present your product to clearly communicate the features and highlights to your customers.   


Placement usually refers to where a product can be found and purchased. Presentation takes placement a step further by analyzing how to maximize sales for a specific item. Let's continue with the previous salsa scenario. The store has a few cases of salsa and decides to stock it in the aisle with the other jars of salsa. While it's possible that a customer who is in the market for salsa may see the new product and decide to try it, it would also benefit the store to create an additional presentation to introduce the new brand to customers. The store could create a display on a separate table or an end-cap with chips to "cross sell" the salsa. A customer may not have even been thinking about buying salsa when they entered the market but merchandising it in a focal area and conveniently placing the chips in the same spot makes it an easy impulse purchase.


People often think that promotion is synonymous with sale but a promotion doesn't necessarily have to be discount driven. A promotion can also be a presentation that promotes a special item and communicates product knowledge to the customer. A window display can be a promotion featuring seasonal products or the hot item of the month. The display featuring the chips and salsa can be turned into a promotion if customers had the chance to sample the products. Customers could be shown what other recipes the special salsa can be added to and they would be more likely to try the new salsa brand. Trader Joe's and Costco often promote and cross sell related products by offering free tastings. Doing so not only educates and captivates the customer but also helps to push product sales.


Retailers know that the product price must cover the cost of goods and other operating expenses. Most have a good idea of how much their customers are willing to spend on a certain item. What some retailers tend to forget is that the selling environment and presentation needs to match the price point and target customers' expectations. If a chain grocery store sells a 12-ounce jar of salsa for $1.49, customers expect the typical tiled linoleum and plastic shopping basket environment. If the market offers a 12-ounce jar of the new salsa for $11.99, their customers are probably going to expect a little bit more romancing. The market can differentiate their store environment with vinyl wood plank flooring and wicker hand baskets. Similarly, if this brand of salsa is a one-off and the market's clientele isn't used to paying higher price points, the market has to work on convincing its customers why this salsa is worth paying 700% more. The focal display area featuring the salsa would be a good place to educate customers. They can use visual merchandising to communicate the brand's story, how the ingredients were sourced and harvested, and the journey of how this salsa was created. Knowing about the product's story helps customers feel more invested. When they understand the product's value, customers are more likely to treat themselves to a higher price point. 


People can refer to customers as the end-users as well as the employees working in the store. Presentation can affect morale for both. Effective visual merchandising can help customers feel like they're having a unique shopping experience as opposed to simply running another errand. A more comfortable and navigable environment can be the difference between having a happy satisfied customer or a frustrated shopper who walks out the door. Similarly, an organized and well-maintained store environment can be the difference between having an actively engaged employee or just a warm body stationed behind the register. Receiving visual merchandising training can make employees feel more invested and appreciated. Well-developed employees who have autonomy and the opportunity to be creative at work are more likely to take initiative and feel more motivated. The employee who arranges the salsa display automatically receives product knowledge training just by creating the signage highlighting the brand's fresh ingredients.

So there you have it! How to sell an $11.99 jar of salsa in your store. And more importantly, how visual merchandising can affect your business operations and marketing. Paying attention to presentation can improve the other 5 P's and is sure to lead you to more profits! Good luck and happy selling!

If you're interested in developing your employees, VM Works offers tax-deductible workshops for them to attend. For customized in-store training for your team, contact VM Works. Get a VM Store Report to see if your store presentation is effective and how it can be improved. Or just hire VM Works to take care of the merchandising in your store! Check out Why VM Works for future blogs on how visual merchandising can affect your sales.