10 seconds. That’s the amount of time a retailer approaching your booth gives you before making a value judgment. In 10 seconds or less, they are determining whether or not they like your booth. Will they stop? Or will they keep walking until they come across the next booth that sells what you sell?

It’s not fair but we all do it.

Moments of Truth

Your booth at ASD Market Week may live a temporary life, but when it comes to presentation and display it requires the same merchandising care as a retail store on NYC’s Fifth Avenue. And maybe even more creativity.

Buyers who visit your booth will experience many moments of truth, including encounters with merchandise and with the people who sell it. Those moments of truth add up, and any one of them the can be the reason a customer stays… or goes.

When we design retail spaces we look at three things: the Enablers: things that make customers feel welcome, attract attention, make it easy to shop, and get them excited to buy; the Inhibitors that stop the buying experience, think empty fixtures or fixtures packed so tightly that it’s impossible to shop; and the Impression Points, areas throughout the space that create the perceptions buyers carry with them as they peruse the floor. Keeping these three points in mind let’s take a look at what it takes to set impressive displays that sell more product.

Please Play with the Merchandise

Some exhibitors set such intricate displays that customers are afraid to touch them. Even worse are the salespeople who follow them around fluffing the displays buyers have the audacity to touch. To avoid this, your goal is simple. Set displays that invite customers to play. Instead of just a wall of handbags, for example, set a multi-level display of bags on a table the way department stores merchandise designer handbags. Or use signage inviting buyers to touch and explore the inventory within your booth. The main takeaway? Make a visit to your booth a fun and interactive experience. Expanding on this, leverage visual merchandising to help increase your inventory sales. After all, much of what happens in your booth is visual. To help, consider these five tips.

  1. Mix It Up Height-Wise: Displays that are set at only one level can be pretty boring, so vary the heights of the fixtures to keep it interesting. Remember that it’s best to keep actual products at eye level, aka “Buy Level”; which is generally around 5’4” – the height of the average woman. You will also want to create a sight line. Once your display catches a buyer’s eye you want her to be able to look into the booth and see all the other fabulous merchandise displayed inside.

  2. Make a Vertical Move: There are two ways you can merchandise product on shelving: horizontally or vertically. If you choose a horizontal presentation and place just one product type per shelf, you limit the number of items a buyer is likely to see as she scans this space. If she only glances at the second shelf, for example, she will only see that particular product. That’s why a vertical presentation is the better bet – particularly when merchandising in booths. Any time you display product in a vertical slice, you expose the buyer to a greater assortment at any eye level. We’re naturally inclined to read from left to right, for example, so vertical merchandising encourages buyers to see your entire selection of merchandise – regardless of which shelf they choose to gaze upon. Bonus tip? With vertical merchandising, every level is eye level.

  3. Throw ’Em a Curve: Visual curve merchandising is when you display product on a slanted shelf or fixture, increasing the amount of product you see in just one glance. The curve causes you to look up and down at a display, as well as forward. Once you try this technique you will be amazed at the difference it makes in presentation and sales.

  4. Don’t Skimp on Signage: Presbyopia, a disease that affects our ability to see clearly up close, kicks in at around age 40. There are thousands of potential customers wandering through your booth who may be missing key product detail because they can’t read the sign or packaging. And when it comes to a big order, no buyer will sign what they can’t read. You can save the sale by placing a basket of reading glasses in various magnifications for customers to use on the honor system. Additionally, you also want your message to be large enough for customers to see without their reading glasses so when using signage in your booth, don’t use anything smaller than a 30 point font. Another tip to consider? Never use handwritten signage unless it’s part of your branding… and our guess is it’s not. A sign written with black marker on 8.5x11” neon paper that’s taped to a fixture is never a good look. If you do utilize handwritten signs, make sure they are written in a hand that is legible and stands out. Ideally, this hand should be used in every sign so that it becomes readily identifiable to your booth. Ideally, all signs should be displayed in sign holders, as well.

  5. Check Your Effectiveness: When you are finished merchandising your booth, evaluate your displays based on this 3-point checklist below.
  • -Take a visual inventory. Approach your booth from all directions. Is it easy to shop? Is an important product highlighted? Is it signed well? Walk through each area of your booth with a customer’s eyes – not your own – and consider how someone seeing it for the first time may respond to it.

  • -Reassess what you see. Play with the displays you aren’t happy with by making small tweaks until you are satisfied. Look again. And again. If you aren’t happy, reconsider how you can merchandise your space so that it will be more appealing to customers.

  • -Experiment. Look at your booth at the start of each day with fresh eyes. If a product isn’t selling then move it to another location or change up the display technique. Do this every morning of the show – and don’t overlook the value of watching how retailers interact in your booth, as well. This observation is also very helpful in your future merchandising techniques.

Finally, let go of the idea that if you pile it high, you will watch it fly. This is simply not the case for booths at trade shows. With just a little planning you’ll be able to create a unique customer experience that’s both fun and easy to shop… and rewarding for your sales, as well!

Click here for more information, or to register for ASD Market Week

Take advantage of ASD Market Week’s 90+ free retail strategy sessions this March 11-14, 2018 in Las Vegas

Contributed by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender. Kizer & Bender are professional speakers, authors, and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail marketplace. They are widely referred to as consumer anthropologists because they stalk and study that most elusive of mammals: today’s consumer. KIZER & BENDER are well known for their unique and intensive consumer research. Any speaker can talk about customers, but Georganne and Rich actually become them. In addition to yearly focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and intensive on-site studies, their research includes posing as every kind of customer you can imagine; and maybe even a few that you can’t. The results of their research are literally straight from the customers’ mouth: solid ground level intelligence you can use to better serve your own customers. KIZER & BENDER’s presentations blend brilliant content with colorful examples, humor, and insight. You’ll learn while you laugh! And you’ll come away with inspiration, strategies, tactics, tips, and techniques you can use the second you return to your business!