In-store and online merchandising strongly determine how retailers retain and acquire new customers.

FREMONT, CA: The conventional approach to merchandising has always relied on a combination of experience, skill, and intuition. Although this has always been the "least bad" option, it has never produced ideal results.

In the current environment and with the advancement of technology, it is now possible to make better (data-supported) merchandising decisions that are more effective at meeting customer demands.

However, what does this imply for the current merchandising process, and how can merchandise support the sales process with new customer-centric methods? Let's examine the upcoming retailing trends and what you can do to succeed in a post-pandemic world:

Merchandising Progress

The entire process of merchandising is evolving as smart algorithms, AI, and platform retailing solutions assume more responsibilities. Traditional ways of thinking are being replaced by more efficient, data-driven, real-time merchandising processes.

Retailers observe a shift from a traditional approach in which merchandisers attempt to predict the number of items customers will purchase to a more modern, data-driven strategy. This new method allows them to monitor daily consumer demand and allocate necessary items without overstocking or understocking.

Omnichannel Retail

As the distinctions between online and offline shopping blur, it becomes more difficult for omnichannel retailers to predict the consumption of customers who expect the best of both worlds.

Stock allocation across various channels is complex for inventory management professionals who must combine altering shopper behavior with the constant duty of guaranteeing appropriate visual display and preserving sufficient stock to satisfy all potential sales between replenishments.

Nevertheless, physical stores will continue to play an important role in fashion sales—especially once retailers have optimized the in-store experience using detailed local data that captures local consumer demands. For instance, a pop-up store equipped with local data collection can contribute significantly to developing a physical shopping experience.

The Prospects for Merchandising

The role of merchandising in fashion retail has shifted drastically due to alterations in consumer behavior and expectations. A digital-first strategy is now an essential survival trait for any brand that wishes to remain relevant in a world where digital shopping will continue to grow. In this new era, retail spaces must provide something unique, and the digital and physical worlds are expected to integrate flawlessly.

The future of merchandising requires a rapid response to the market with suitable product offerings at the right time and place.

Many industries have already been revolutionized by smart technology and AI advances, but fashion retail is just getting started. Those retailers who make the necessary investment in AI will see their industry transformed by enhanced processes and a closer relationship with the customers they serve. Unfortunately, not all brands will recognize the importance of investing in this area, and they are more likely to vanish.

Visual Merchandising

Consumers are much more concerned with maximizing the efficiency of their shopping trips and minimizing the time they spend in-store; consequently, they will value a more targeted, personalized shopping experience that includes product recommendations that interest them. Those who successfully combine their physical store with a personalized digital experience will reap the benefits.

The rise of eCommerce as a dominant force in fashion retail necessitates modifying conventional visual merchandising techniques. There is no opportunity to create enticing seasonal displays or window displays, nor is there the same opportunity to induce buying frenzy with carefully positioned sale items and related products.

When a shopper enters an online store, it is impossible to predict where they are coming from or which products they will see first. This makes it impossible to lead them on a journey like customers in a physical store, so retailers must take a different approach. Highlighting products with unique characteristics, such as textures or sustainable credentials, is even more difficult.

The online medium has numerous advantages and features that a physical store lacks, allowing for the creation of entirely new (digital) visual merchandising displays.