Wikipedia describes merchandising as 'the practice which contributes to the sale of products to a retail consumer. At a retail in-store level, merchandising refers to the variety of products available for sale and the display of those products in such a way that it stimulates interest and entices customers to make a purchase'.
Merchandising in Kenya is not a new concept. It has been around for quite some years. Merchandising can be considered a marketing strategy that gets goods moving faster than the conventional ways of selling. This strategy can be used in two ways:
1. In-store Merchandising: where companies that produce consumer goods assign a sales representative to a store/supermarket to arrange and display goods/products in an appealing manner. The sale of these products and services are then monitored by the sales representative who enumerates their benefits to the prospective customer and convinces them to choose this product over another. Some of the products usually have an on-going promotion therefore the sales person entices the buyer with this offer. The sales representative also collects information regarding the product by asking clients why they would not want to buy this product as compared to another. This information is then communicated to the company which makes changes in line with customer requirements. The product or the image of the product may then be refined in response to the feedback from the prospective buyers.
2. The second type of merchandising involves out-door sales. This is whereby the merchandiser or the marketing firm acquires a product line from a client and sells the products on their behalf. How is this done? The merchandiser stocks the company's goods e.g perfumes, lotions, magazines etc. These should be Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) that are priced affordably so as to sell in large volumes in order to make a good profit. The sale of these FMCG can be done through door-to-door campaigns, walkin-ins (offices) and any other method.
And there you have it. Merchandising demystified!