The World's Largest Resource for the Cart, Kiosk, and Temporary Retail Industry

Summer 2011
Clear the Clutter

Too much clutter in already cramped cart quarters can turn off customers. Here are some ideas to rid displays of clutter.

The statement, “less is more” as a rule for merchandising a common area unit (RMU or kiosk) may sound clichéd, but its thoughtful application is the key to a successful result. Too often, merchants manically pack as much product in their display as possible with the misguided notion that their sales will increase proportionately. The result is a chaotic and cluttered presentation that more often than not, is a sales deterrent.

Why less is more

There are reasons why the “kitchen sink” approach to merchandising is a recipe for failure. First, high product density results in visual chaos that overwhelms the shopper. There isn’t enough time for the shopper to sort through the clutter and determine if the merchandise is of enough interest to stop and shop. Successful display design makes a product presentation positive and conspicuous even in an environment filled with other products.

Overcrowding products reduces their perceived value in the shopper’s mind; they become common and unremarkable. Does a window at Tiffany’s show goods packed so tightly they might as well be in bins? For goods to stand out use a complementary fixture that puts the emphasis on the product.

It is possible to pack product so tightly that it becomes physically impossible for a consumer to shop comfortably. The consequences of a truly overcrowded display may be that a shopper cannot examine merchandise because it is either too hard to get to, or because they must risk toppling product and making an embarrassing mess.

Additionally, overcrowded displays cause the retail concept of an RMU or kiosk to be lost so that the shopper does not get a clear, concise perception of the product theme.

Clearing clutter

Here are some points to keep in mind to create a stunning and clutter-free display:

Remove all products not in the use clause.

Evaluate the best way to merchandise the product—jewelry in this example. Select displays that will show the product at its best; note, there may be several effective solutions.

Evaluate the presentation to ensure that it conforms to the basics rules of merchandising: group products by color, style, or size.

Evaluate how much product is necessary to showcase on the RMU and plan the display accordingly. Make it easy for the customer to access product and shop.

Always analyze sales data before starting or reworking display design. Understand what has sold quickly, what has produced the highest gross revenue in a sales period; and just as important, what has not. Remove products that are not selling. Every square inch of space is valuable real estate.

Avoid the use of glass cases. Historical data shows that products exposed to the touch and feel of the consumer will have higher sales than the same products placed behind glass.

Obviously a cost-benefit analysis of sales vs. shrinkage is necessary. Shrinkage can be minimized through proper display practices and product placement on the RMU.

Avoid mismatched displays, cheap-looking signs, or signs that read “SALE.” Such signs instantly cheapens the perceived value of the goods sold.

Pay attention to signage and its use—don’t overuse signs. Choose signage for visibility at strategic distances from the RMU or kiosk. A sign visible at 100 feet will overwhelm the display by virtue of its size and waste valuable real estate.

Following the principle “less is more” when it comes to merchandising your cart or kiosk, is bound to pay rich dividends in sales. A clutter-free display is an inviting one.

Sharon Loeff

Sharon Loeff, of the Scottsdale, AZ-based consulting firm, Shopworks, has been involved in the specialty leasing industry for more than thirty years. For more information, visit

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