April 14, 2020 • Sarah Schwartz
Design a merchandise mix to build your brand online
Despite the ongoing media narrative regarding the Retail Apocalypse, people still inherently like to shop — and according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), that will spur retail sales to increase in 2020 between 3.5 and 4.1%, to over $3.9 trillion. While acknowledging “wild cards we can’t control like coronavirus and a politically charged election year,” Matthew Shay, president and CEO for NRF, commented, “With gains in household income and wealth, lower interest rates and strong consumer confidence, we expect another healthy year ahead … Our economy is sound and consumers continue to lead the way.”
Within those NRF figures, an important subtext emerges. Online sales, included in the total number, are expected to grow between 12 and 15%, to between $870.6 and $893.9 billion. With that dramatic of a rise, if you are not selling online, you should at the very least consider it; regardless, a social media presence that’s heavy on visual enticements is a must, especially in these times.
While people still scratch a certain itch through buying something, several other caveats play into each purchase. Consumers are becoming much more discerning about packaging, sustainability and utility — so you should be as well. Meanwhile the Chipolte-ization of our culture within our industry often translates into packing the most personality into the most humble of items, such as a sticker or a pencil.
When building an enticing merchandise mix, always remember your customer profile: what she (or he) is drawn to, will spend and finds funny. Then try to straddle the line between what is really fresh and different with what you know will continue to sell steadily. But before you do any of that, check out my rundown of currents within the bridal, baby, office, gift/home and holiday markets.
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