How to Evaluate an In-Store Merchandising Partner - Part Two

Part Two:

This blog is a continuation of last week’s thoughts on what criteria brands and retailers should apply to evaluating an in-store merchandising partner. In addition to looking for a good creative partner, brands and retailers will want to look for evidence that the company they’re considering is nimble and detail-oriented. It is a lot easier to illustrate what these traits look like when we can include examples from our own experience, so there are a few peppered into the discussion.

Nimble

The greater the array of in-house capabilities, the more responsive an in-store merchandising partner can be. Look for an environment of tightly integrated resources for complete project management from creative design through store delivery. A broad scope of resources will provide you with the greatest flexibility in accommodating program changes, compressing time frames, and delivering a product that is on pace and on budget.

Is it apparent how the team responds when clients come in with revised expectations? The willingness and flexibility to modify solutions and meet challenges as they arise, while continuing to work toward a set date, should be part of the company culture.

It is particularly telling how a partner responds when designing and engineering a display that interfaces with client product and client-supplied equipment that gets incorporated into the overall piece. Neither of those aspects is within the control of the in-store merchandising partner, but the partner should be nimble enough to make the necessary modifications and keep the project on track.

Into the Details

An in-store merchandising partner should be able to assign you team members with the experience that allows them to focus on details you, as a client starting a new project, may not even recognize need to be addressed. Focusing on the details of design and understanding the appropriateness of components can impact user experience and long-term viability.  A thorough in-store merchandising partner should know what makes for ease of installation, user interface and durability and be able to show you numbers that indicate a high success rate in the field.

We were recently called to redesign two different projects that were in tests initiated by other companies. They came up with interesting designs and incorporated technology but did not have the depth of experience to integrate successfully the two elements and anticipate problems on the retail floor. Units were becoming damaged in the natural course of use and store maintenance and needed to be pulled.

Being detail oriented doesn’t translate into having an incremental focus. At Frank Mayer and Associates, we were approached by still another company that already had a display in the field and were asked to redesign it. Our designers and engineers didn’t come up with just a better-looking display; they noticed the original piece had far too many screws and took too long to set up. They took a holistic approach and the result was a fully collapsible display that didn’t even require the use of tools. Not only did it have the aesthetics they were looking for, it was much more efficient to install. Oh, and the shipping costs were cut in half…

A company’s focus on being creative, nimble, and detail-oriented will tell you a lot about how they approach their work and can ultimately impact the success of your project. What other qualitative criteria would you add to the list?


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