Products are also termed as merchandise. The different products that the store offers is termed as the merchandise mix.
As has been mentioned earlier:
A merchandise line consists of a group of product that is closely related because they are intended for the same end use, are sold to the same customer group or fall within the same price range. For example, if we consider the menswear section at a department store, the merchandise line would comprise of formal wear, casual wear accessories etc
The variety of the merchandise mix refers to the number of different lines that the retailer stocks in the store. Thus, the merchandise lines in a department store would be menswear ladies wear, children’s wear, home fashion, jewelry etc. The same in case of a grocery retailer would comprise of cereals , pulses, personal acre products , ready to serve foods packaged foods like biscuits , snacks etc.
The breadth also called assortment refers to the number of merchandise brands in the merchandise line. If the merchandise line is menswear, an example of breadth of the formal wear shirts would be the number of brands of shirts that the store stocks.
The depth of the merchandise refers to the average number of Stock keeping units within each brand of the merchandise line. Stock keeping units, or SKUs they as they are commonly referred to, are the individual products that the store carries, defined by brand, size, color, price, style and pattern. Let us understand this with the help of an example. Let us assume that the merchandise line under consideration is men’s formal shirts. The department store under consideration stocks three different brands of shirts – Arrow, Louis Philippe and Van Heusen. The store then needs to stock them in different sizes, colors, styles and price points. Let us assume that the store stocks them in four sizes at five different price points in five colors and in two styles each. Their total would determine the total number of SKUs in that particular merchandise line.
Depth of product Mix – Shirts
3 brands — (Arrow, Louis Philippe, Van Heusen ) = 3 SKU’s
X 4 sizes = 12 SKU’s
X 5 price points = 60 SKU’s
X 5 colors = 300 SKU’s
X 2 styles = 600 SKU’s
Can you imagine the magnitude of the SKU’s that a large department store, or a large grocery store or hypermarket would handle? All this is done with the view of being able to provide the consumer with the right product at the right place.
Pricing is an integral part of the retail marketing mix. The price policy that the organization decides to follow depends on the customer profile that is the target audience for its range of products. It also depends on whether the product offering is unique or has other substitutes available. For example designer clothing is always expensive as compared to the prêt lines offered.
For a very long time the location of the retail store was considered to be the most important element of the retail marketing mix. However, with the advances in technology and the advent of television shopping and the Internet many retailers are now going in for a click and mortar approach.
The advertising budget the sales promotions publicity and public relations play a very important role in competitive world of retailing. Retailers need to develop a communication strategy in line with target market and the products that they stock in store.
The manner in which the merchandise is presented at the store level is very important. This aspect not only deals with the store layout and ambience created, but also with visual merchandising Visual Merchandising is the orderly systematic and intelligent way of putting stock on display in the retail store. Many large retail organizations employ visual merchandisers to aid the store in this function.
The support services that a retailer has have become very important today. The credit policies, product returns policies etc need to clear not only to the sales staff but also to the end customer Relationship marketing , data warehousing and customer relations management are the new buzzwords in the industry today, and all these are aimed at enhancing customer service,
Retailers operate in a unique environment. The retail industry is characterized by a large number of inexperienced workers, who need to put in ling hours of work. Most of the time, these employees are in direct contact wit the customer and may face irate or unreasonable customers. The people who work at the front end of a retail organization are very important, as they are the face the organization for the customers. Their attitude behavior manners and product knowledge play a very important role in building long term relations wt the customers.