6 Retail Store Shelving Mistakes to Avoid

Have you ever walked into a retail store to be thrown into an apocalyptic-like scenario of clothes strewn everywhere, a wall of merchandise blocking your way and perilous piles of goods ready to topple on top of you? We bet so.

Messy shelving doesn’t have to reach such ugly lows to be unappealing and off-putting. Sometimes, small tweaks can make all the difference between money-making shelve displays and dust-collecting fixtures.

If you are worried your sales might be impacted by costly in-store mishaps, read on to discover the 6 worst shelving mistakes retailers make.


Mistake #1 — Having dirty shelves

The absolutely worst thing you could do is to have dirty shelving. A film of dust, however thin, is always a bad sign, but what’s even worse is actual litter on display!

Your customers can be your worst enemy when it comes to dirty shelves. It’s not uncommon for shoppers to leave behind their rubbish — whether intentionally or not. Drinks, food wrappers, coffee cups and used tissues can all end up on your shelves.

We can guarantee very few clients will want to look through your merchandise when there’s abandoned litter in their way.

Mistake #2 — Risking it with unsteady shelves

Another costly mistake is not installing your shelves or structures properly. An unsteady, rickety display is a big deterrent to your shoppers. If something ends up falling on the ground while they are browsing, everyone else will stare at them — how embarrassing! We are hardwired to avoid unpleasant situations, so when faced with unsteady shelves, your customer is bound to walk away — costing you the sale!

New research shows that we are so strongly embarrassed by these situations that we don’t even need to be the ones at its centre — just witnessing a retail mishap causes “vicarious embarrassment”, which can even keep customers from returning to your store. The resulting loss in revenue should make you reconsider the hasty installation…

Mistake #3 — Creating unreachable product display

While in rom-coms tall product displays are a romance starter, the reality is quite different. Studies show that products placed on the top shelves don’t sell as much. While that’s mainly due to the fact that consumers don’t even see them, consumption embarrassment comes into play here too. Stretching on tiptoes to reach can make shoppers feel ridiculous and at the center of attention. Better to leave it and move on, costing you a sale.

Mistake #4 — Displaying empty shelves

High On-Shelf Availability (OSA) is paramount for a positive profit report. Having a half-empty store not only sends the wrong message but it will cost you customers. Research papers explain the link between low or nil OSA and lost sales and decreased consumer loyalty.

Minimalistic and ultra-modern stores should pay careful attention to their VM to ensure the walls look “full”. Even if you don’t currently stock much product, make sure you merchandise it well. Use VM props and signage to introduce the range and fill out the display.

Mistake #5 — Cramming it all on overfilled shelves

The opposite of empty shelves is also a dear mistake, with overflowing displays being the most common error out of our top 6 retail mistakes. It’s tempting to overfill the products so that you won’t run into the empty shelves problem but the result is actually worse. Crowded shelves give a messy and unorganised impression. Even worse, they make shopping harder for your customers. The likelihood of making something fall off the shelf is very high, and we’ve already covered how the risk of public embarrassment impacts buyer’s behaviour. Overfilled shelves also make it harder to differentiate products and find what you are after and customers are quick to give up in frustration.

Mistake #6 — Not clearly displaying the price

Knowing the price of a product is a key step in the buying decision process. So if your items have no price, you need to clearly display it on the shelves instead. Use hooks, data strips and ticket holders to make the information readily available. Customers don’t want to ask how much products are because they don’t want to look cheap if they decide that it’s too much and they don’t want it.

Invest in quality shelving for money-making displays

Now that you know the 6 most costly mistakes you can make when it comes to your shelving, take a walk through your store. Are you doing any of them? Can you improve anything to make your customers’ experience more enjoyable and boost sales? Don’t be afraid to invest in top-quality shelving and accessories to take your displays from average to exceptional!

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