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The Truth on How to Merchandise to the Sexes

How well do you know your clientele? Do you predominately merchandise your product to attract women or men?  If you haven’t considered basing the way you merchandise your product towards your target audience, you may be making a huge mistake.

Since the dawn of time, it is no secret that men and women are different.  Men and women, think differently, act differently, and yes (believe it or not!) shop differently.  Now, I’m not saying there are not exceptions to how each sex may shop, we all are our own individuals.  But, I am here to point out some common differences between women and men shoppers.  So, maybe… With some tweaks to your merchandising strategy, you can enhance your shopper’s experience.

Before They Even Get to Your Store

We have ALL been there, the heinous parking situation.  You drive around for what feels like hours before you find the perfect spot that someone seems to easily steal from you in a flash?  I know this isn’t a fun experience for anyone, men or women.  But from the men I’ve interviewed, it proves to be a very common turn-off, often at the top of their list.  So, if you are thinking of marketing to primarily men and early enough in the stages where you can choose your parking, maybe consider a location that provides a smooth transition from parking into your store for these gentlemen.

Once They’re In…

It’s happened.  Your customer has made it into your store.  If you haven’t heard it before, the female in many species are classified as the “hunters”.  Many women shoppers are ready to search for the deal or bargain that somebody else hasn’t found yet.  This means, women may be more likely to search through tightly-packed (which is a no-no) rolling racks of clothing or dig through bins full of items that maybe all items aren’t individually marked in. Some women may have an idea of what she wants/likes and is looking for, but may not have a direct plan of how and where she is going to get it.  Women equal “Hunters”.  That means, not being afraid to dig through your clearance racks hidden in the back corners of the store. (And yes, as you should know, Clearance needs to be at the back of your store!)

Whereas, a man most-likely wants to get in, find what he came there for, and get out smoothly.  Chances are, many men have done their research from home.  Meaning, they’ve compared the value of your product with your competitors, prices, locations, and then they have chosen your store.  Men I have interviewed for this piece have stated to me that even if they can save big bucks, if their shopping experience is chaotic, they don’t mind visiting a competitor and paying more for the ease of finding what they need.  So, why not merchandise these men’s items neatly on shelving units, priced-as-marked, and as close to the front door and cash register as possible?

Check out this funny short video here comparing a man versus a women’s trip into a store.
(Video cred to YouTube channel: RadioBAYERN3)

Customer Service Goes Hand-in-Hand with How You Merchandise

What kind of people do you have working for you?  Are they courteous and helpful when your shoppers arrive? Do they greet the door with a polite, “Hello! Are you guys having a good weekend?”.  It’s very easy to train your staff/salespeople to check that they’re recognizing the appropriate social cues on how to treat your customers.  All the while, making sure they don’t sound like robots.

Teach your staff to greet your customers with questions.  Especially, open-ended questions.  An open-ended question is a question that makes it very hard for a customer to answer with, a “no”.  They may find that often, this can break the ice with men and women both.  If you get a short-answered response, this is a good cue to maybe just let that customer come to one of your readily available sale associates on their own account.

This leads to the fact that many people, don’t like going out of their way to ask for help.  So, you should have your associates strategically placed and comfortably moving around your store, so that they are easily accessible to customers that need their help.  Coach associates to be aware of their surroundings, if a customer seems to be struggling with locating a tag, have you associates offer them help. This is great for the customer service of your store, to men and women alike.

However, there often is a fine line between having your associates come off as too eager to make a sale to your clientele.  Many commission-based salespersons can be guilty of this, and your customers are the first know it!  So, teach your sales associates to be available and friendly, but not too much so to where your customer feels uncomfortable during their visit. No one, woman or man, likes to be pushed into a sale by someone. By having your staff genuinely asking that first open-ended question and simply having them be present, you can easily set the mood of your store as warm and helpful.

Basically, hire the people skills.  Sales and customer service is a very important realm where you want staff being able to read and learn the social cues of your customers.  If you can find a good set of interpersonal skills that includes the organizational skills to keep your store tidy, they must be a keeper!  The more in-tuned you and your staff are, the more comfortable your customers (and you!) will be with the brand you’re building.

The Little Things

When you go to merchandise your store, don’t forget to think about the little things.  Whether you are a man or a woman, think about your own shopping experiences and what you like or dislike when the time calls for some “retail therapy”.  Attention to these details are what matters to you as a shopper, make them matter to your customers.

Use Display Tables:  From the women I’ve interviewed about their likes and dislikes, I found almost all have agreed they love display tables.  Display tables are easy to shop especially if they are kept clean and tidy.  If you can use a display table or table top mannequin head to merchandise your accessories to go with product you have on the display tables, it’s even more of a bonus.  Most women shoppers like to be told a story, tell them what you want them to hear with how you merchandise.

Fitting Room Issues:  Do you have seating located outside your fitting rooms?  Is it convenient for a guest to try on clothes and have their families or friends sitting comfortably and close to your guest?  Well, it should be.  Men and women both benefit from simple seating around your fitting rooms.  Another thing all sexes can benefit from in fitting rooms is good lighting.  The better your clothes look on, the more apt your customers are to buy!  And don’t forget to keep an eye on your fitting rooms’ cleanliness.  Sometimes assigning a staff member to “Dressing Room Duty” may be a smart way to avoid annoying your customers.  I have yet to revisit or forget any of my untidy fitting room experiences.  Have you?

All About That Bass:  What kind of music are you playing in your retail establishment?  Choosing music could be tricky for some, but if you know your target audience, you should choose the appropriate music for their taste and that represents your brand accurately.  For example, if your store caters to teens, it may be appropriate to raise the volume of your store and set your tunes to a Top 40 radio station.  Do you merchandise to a variety of different ages of both sexes?  Why not try quieter tracks that are enjoyable for people of any age.  If going with more upbeat tunes, try lowering the volume so that it’s not distracting to some but can still be heard by those that wish to hear it.  Lastly, if your store caters to a higher-end crowd, you may want to decide on something classic and smooth – to create a more relaxing ambiance.

Hopefully, some of these tidbits I’ve mentioned today will help you tweak some small or huge details about your storefront to help you attract your target audience.  In my opinion, altering some of the little things can only help your bigger picture.  If there is there something I’ve missed, or my article has helped you better determine who you’re merchandising to, please feel free to share in your comments!

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