Don’t block the merchandise

29Jun10

If a customer can’t find an item, there’s a pretty good chance they won’t be purchasing that item. Sure, some people will go out of their way to ask a sales rep for help, but I doubt that even 25% of shoppers fall into this category. Accordingly, simple logic dictates that when a product is harder to find, you’ll sell less of it.

Now instead of thinking about a single item, consider what happens when you make hundreds of items nearly impossible to find. How might this happen? Well, my local CVS pulled it off handily. They decided to do some sort of wacky inventory replenishment over the weekend, and blocked at least 10% of the shelf space with giant product containers. Like magic, all the merchandise that they obstructed was suddenly out of reach for all but the most determined shoppers.

Surely they did this big inventory project during the off hours, right? 6 am on Sunday or overnight on the weekdays? Nope. It was mid-morning on a Saturday, and this particular location is quite busy all weekend long due to the many residential buildings nearby, and the summer festivals taking place just down the street.

Hopefully someone at the store will notice the drop in sales during the obstructed view period and apply some common sense here. In particular, a retailer should do everything in their power to keep the merchandise in clear view, without arbitrary obstacles getting in the way. And if periodic inventory replenishment or other tasks require that big boxes or crates be placed in the aisles, at least try to get it done outside business hours, or during the quiet times when customers are in short supply. Otherwise, the store will surely end up paying the price in the form of lost sales and frustrated customers.



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