Retailers and wholesale distributors should be well versed in different merchandising techniques that can be used to maximize product sales. Store aisles should be merchandised to make good use of the space available while also making the shopping experience enjoyable and easy for the customer. Two of the main merchandising techniques that accomplish both of these objectives are vertical and horizontal merchandising. What is the difference? When should each of these techniques be used? Here’s what you need to know:

Vertical Merchandising

When products are arranged in a vertical display, this is known as vertical merchandising. Although some products will be out of the customer’s direct line of sight, customers will not have to move their bodies in order to see all the products in the display. Instead, all they have to do is move their eyes up and down to take in each of the items on the different shelves.

If you plan on using vertical merchandising, put your most popular items on the shelves that will fall into an adult’s direct line of sight. If you have any items that will appeal to a younger crowd, put those on the bottom shelves. As parents are busy picking out products, kids will notice the items on the bottom shelves and if they’re desirable, kids will start to nag their parents to make the purchase.

Vertical merchandising also makes it easier to put items that could be bundled together in the same place. The customer will be able to see the relationship between the items after she looked up and down at the display.

Horizontal Merchandising

Products are laid out horizontally instead of vertically in a horizontal display. This type of display ensures all products are within the customer’s direct line of sight, since they are all on the same level. However, customers will have to move their bodies in order to see everything in the display. If you use this technique, you must be able to grab the customers’ attention with the first product so they are curious enough to walk through the rest of the display and look at the other items. Although customers are more likely to see the items in a horizontal display because of their positioning, it’s very difficult to upsell customers because this technique is not ideal for displaying bundle or add-on items. Because of this, horizontal merchandising is usually used to display similar products from different brands. For example, horizontal merchandising could be used to display diet sodas in varying sizes from different manufacturers.

Traditional grocery store shelves are a combination of both horizontal and vertical techniques. If you stand in any spot in a grocery store and look up and down, you may notice items that complement each other and could be purchased together. Then, look left to right, and you will notice a lot of the same products, but different brands and sizes. However, other unconventional stores such as hospital gift shops or independent boutiques may use mainly vertical merchandising created with kiosks and standalone fixtures.

Which merchandising technique do you prefer and why? Share your opinions in the comments below!

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