February 18, 2016

Randy Stejskal joined Nebraska Book Company, Inc. (NBC), as Director of Store Planning in November of 1992. His practical business sense and entrepreneurial spirit led to many collegiate retail innovations at NBC, including his founding of College Store Design in 2001. Randy is credited with developing a viable business segment for NBC and the design and development of several collegiate fixture programs that include the Signature Collection, Sophisticate Collection, and College Store Design’s private label Flex! program. Today, College Store Design’s reach stretches around the globe with projects in Qatar, the West Indies, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, and across the Continental United States. College Store Design’s established network of fixture fabricators, freight and installation companies, and general contractors ensures a successful renovation process for the independent collegiate retailer.

All good collegiate retailers know the importance of preparing for the back-to-school season, in addition to other key selling opportunities on the sales event calendar. But sometimes, it’s best to have a refresher with your team to ensure everyone on the sales floor or assisting back-of-house is on the same page, understands expectations, and executes their tasks and duties with precision. Shown below are some tried-and-true basics to maximize sales, increase product turns, and exceed guest expectations based on their interaction experience.

Stack, Sign, and Sell

Clear all possible merchandise from the stockroom and fill your sales floor.  Filling your sales floor helps ensure that a guest doesn’t “walk” because their shirt size or desired item is residing out of sight in the stockroom.  Sign your merchandise with professionally printed signs, and place those signs in professional sign vehicles. is a great source for all types of sign vehicles. Use signage to tell your guests the benefits of the product, thus making a compelling reason to purchase. Your sign message should be more than just “sale.”  “Cause-related” messages engage the guest and motivates them to purchase. With your sales floor stocked full of merchandise, professionally signed with meaningful information and messages, your products will be sure to sell quickly, which is one of the most satisfying results for a retailer.

Clean, Polish, and Shine

Put your best foot forward, and make your store sparkle for your guests. Clean and shine your store-front glass and doors. Polish anything that the guest sees and experiences. Don’t forget flooring, both hard surface and carpet, and check-out areas that could use some touch-up paint here and there. Doing so will illustrate to your guest that you take pride in your store and appreciate their coming in to purchase.

Organize, Straighten, and Declutter

Make your store look its very best by organizing product, placing it in straight and easily shoppable rows, and face it to the front of the shelves, face-outs, and pegs. Remove clutter from the sales floor, service counters, and point-of-sale area. Service counters and point-of-sale areas are magnets for clutter, so look hard and ask, “Does our Guest really need to see this personal box of facial tissue or hand lotion during their transaction?”  Don’t forget your fitting rooms and restrooms too.

Size, Fold, and Sticker

Size your softgoods small to large, front to back when on hangers. For folded product, small sizes should be merchandise to the top of a folded stack with larger sizes to the bottom. This is a commonly practiced technique that guests are most familiar with when finding the size they require. Utilize size stickers to keep folded product easily shopped, and of equal importance, to keep your neatly folded stacks of merchandise from being quickly destroyed when your guest is looking for the right size.

Display, Engage, and Intrigue

Create intriguing window displays, engaging nesting tables and merchandise sets with products that are typically sold in pairs or multiples. When selecting merchandise for a nesting table display, choose products that naturally exist with one another and would normally be sold together. Try a “yoga” theme such as yoga pants, mats, tops, water bottles, and Zen music CDs for a nesting table merchandise idea. Or how about a “tailgate gear” theme with grills, blankets, chairs, mats, flag poles, tents, umbrellas, games, and the like. Use your imagination, and engage one of your most creative team members to pull together a list of themes and corresponding product list for your approval. For window displays, use color, props, lighting, and your newest product arrivals.

Greet, Smile, and Thank

As guests enter your store, team members should greet each person with a sincere warm smile and a greeting such as ”Welcome,” “Hello,” “Hi,” or “Thank you for coming in today.” Be attentive to any possible need the guest may have while they shop. At the point-of-sale, be sure to thank the guest for their purchase, and invite them to visit again soon.

Merchandising creates the experience that makes or breaks your customers’ comfort level in your store. By keeping an eye on detail during heavy shopping periods, you can increase basket size and positive word of mouth. And word of mouth, as every retailer knows, is priceless.

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