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Merchandising Rules Never Really Change

I was unloading boxes of toys and trying to organize them on the shelves in our booth at Toy Fair. This is a new role for me. I’ve only ever seen these trade shows after everything is set up. I’ve never had to navigate the aisles filled with shipping crates, pallets of product, and forklift and lift drivers beeping everywhere.

I was pulling out all the toys and trying to visualize how they would look best on the shelf. Seconds later I had drifted back to my Toy House days with a cart full of new products, trying to figure out where to show them off best.

Lea, my boss, came over about the time I was on my fourth or fifth box. “I was wondering why you hadn’t been asking me questions. You were a retailer. You did this all the time.”

All. The. Time.

The rules for merchandising a trade show booth aren’t really any different than the rules for merchandising your store.

  • Give the stuff you really want to push a special place.
  • Make the eye move. Add verticality to table displays.
  • Put the stuff they need to see at eye level.
  • Put the stuff they already know and ask for by name in the “dead zone” (if you have one).
  • Group products by what makes most sense for how your customers shop.
  • Have a “splash” item or two.
  • If you use a lower shelf, put big items down low that are easier to see or make sure the aisle is wide enough for people to back up to see.

We had seven of us setting up the booth yesterday following all these rules and then some. The booth is done and ready for the sales reps who will visit us today and the retailers we’ll start seeing tomorrow.

One of my favorite things about trade shows was the merchandising ideas I would get from the different booths. And not only for that vendor’s products. We would see display ideas we would then re-purpose for own products.

Great merchandising is all around you. The rules are basically the same, the design is the key. Get your inspiration from wherever you can. (To learn more about Merchandising, download the free eBook Merchandising Made Easy.)

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS It also helps to have someone on your team with that special flair for making displays pop. We have an orange box filled with all kinds of display goodies and props to dress up our displays. When Lea opened up that box and put her magic touch on everything our booth jumped to a whole new level.

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