There are certain factors which have become apparent from the accumulated experience of self-service retailing which are of particular importance for all ONLINE MARKETING personnel. The first of these is the undoubted fact that goods sell by sight and touch. The old notion, that customers should be abjured not to touch the merchandise unless they intend to buy, is an anachronism. The customer must not only see the product, he must be encouraged to handle it.

Secondly, the positioning of goods within the retail outlet plays an important part in selling them. It is probably not surprising that items placed at eye-level sell faster than those placed either above or below the level at which the majority of customers are likely to look. What may be less apparent, is the fact that a large display of one item of merchandise will promote greater sales than a large selection of different products. Furthermore, the artistically constructed pyramid which the customer dare not touch for fear of knocking it over produces less sales than a jumbled display which invites handling and examination.

In a personal-selling shop, the assistants can suggest additional items of purchase to the customer to create extra sales. The self-service store does not have this facility. In order to draw the attention of shoppers to special offers or slow-moving merchandise, it is necessary to get them to circulate. One of the ways this can be done is to scatter the display of 'demand goods'-those which are bought regularly-all over the shop, thus compelling the customer to move about and visit each part of the store. If one alters the position of these displays frequently this mobility will be maintained, otherwise regular shoppers quickly learn where to find their essential items of purchase and defeat the merchandiser's attempts to make them look at every shelf and be conscious of the slower-selling goods he hopes to promote.

Another important factor in self-service retailing, is that the whole shop should be treated as one for the purposes of merchandising. This is a breakaway from the traditional idea of departmentalism. It aids the juxtapositioning of goods to create related sales-eggs and bacon or fruit and cream as menu ideas-bearing in mind that research shows that the majority of purchasing decisions are made after, and not before, the customer enters the shop.

These are merely the rudiments of the merchandising of consumer goods. They are important to the ONLINE MARKETING Manager because, by understanding them, he will anticipate and grasp more readily the opportunities which merchandising techniques may offer him for the promotion of his own products. More sophisticated methods are to be seen in the development of 'package deals', such as the supply of deep-freeze refrigerators together with a contract to deliver to the user a regular supply of frozen meat, vegetables and dairy produce. The 'free-trial offer' of the mail order trader, in which he permits his prospective customer to have the use of an, appliance, a book or a box-set of CD�s, for seven days and return them if he is not satisfied, is a good example of a more advanced form of merchandising, which provides the consumer with unfettered experience of the virtues of the product before he buys it. Car distributors encourage potential customers to have a free ride in the model of their choice before making up their minds whether or not to purchase. Similarly, many manufacturers of food products, upon introducing a new brand, invite shoppers to taste a sample before buying the package.

Most distributors of domestic appliances are happy to arrange demonstrations in customers' homes. Some of the most imaginative examples of merchandising are, in fact, designed to introduce the product in the home. Part-time agents are employed to promote a variety of merchandise by means of organized coffee parties, at which groups of housewives are invited to drink coffee at a friend's home and witness a free demonstration of the product. They are able to seek information, discuss its attributes and, by a process of mutual conviction, be assured of its merits and desirability.

Examples - E-Salesmen

Please Note

The Trade is, of course, a major source of product ideas. All manufacturers examine, with avid interest, the new products of their competitors.