Merchandising refers to the techniques used to sell products to consumers. A person or company that works in this area purchases a product from a manufacturer, and then sells it to shoppers. There are numerous techniques that a merchandiser may use to convince shoppers to buy the products he or she is selling. It is usually more than just setting products on a shelf and hoping that they are purchased.
The simplest way to define merchandising is to say that it is the way a product is sold. From the time a product is created, people are developing a plan for how to sell it. The type of packaging, colors, and slogans are all part of this process. Later on, which stores will carry it, where the product is placed in the store aisles, and how the retail store will promote the product that become important factors in the process. Products need to be visible if the store expects people to buy them.
A product will be marketed to a target audience, or the people most likely to purchase the goods and services being offered. This assures that the right product is available in the right place to the right people, and at the right time. It wouldn't make sense to have a huge stock of turkeys, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pies in July, but it does make sense in November in the US, when customers are looking to buy those things.
Products targeted for kids are a great example of merchandising that is available year round. Child-oriented products, such as cereals, crackers and cookies, or other products, are lined up on shelves low enough for a child to see and reach them. The packages are brightly colored, and often have cartoon characters on them. Toy stores typically do not have many items on hard to reach shelves, because they want children to be able to see all of the toys that they offer.
Merchandising is more complicated than just figuring out where to put products on store shelves. It involves a lot of careful planning. If a company orders too much of an item, and it might spoil or go out of style before it is sold out, wasting money. If too little of an item is ordered, people will buy it elsewhere once the business has sold out, costing sales. The seller has to be knowledgeable about statistics, good at math, and have a keen eye for details to be successful in the field.