What is 'Merchandising'

Merchandising is the promotion of goods and/or services that are available for retail sale. Merchandising includes the determination of quantities, setting prices for goods and services, creating display designs, developing marketing strategies, and establishing discounts or coupons.

Cycles of merchandising are specific to cultures and climates. These cycles accommodate school schedules and incorporate regional and seasonal holidays as well as weather.

BREAKING DOWN 'Merchandising'

Merchandising can take on different and more specific definitions in regard to different aspects of retail sales. For example, in marketing, merchandising can refer to the use of one product, image or brand to sell another product, image or brand.

Retail Cycles in the United States

In the United States, the routine retail cycle starts in the beginning of January. During this time, merchandising includes the promotion of Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day products and related items or services. Shortly following this, Presidents' Day is represented through special sales and discounts.

The next major holiday in the United States is Easter. During this time, not only the holiday is promoted, but springtime and associated warmer weather is accounted for. Most promoted products at that time of year include clothing items appropriate for warmer weather in addition to tools and other items suited for outdoor activities, such as gardening and picnics. These items are typically made available mid-winter and heavily marketed and promoted to move such items from shelves to make room for the next batch of products.

The cycle continues through the rest of the year in the same manner, accounting for Mother's Day, Memorial Day, graduation season, Father's Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Merchandising typically varies within retail chains, but will vary greatly depending upon the region of the country and within states themselves.

The New Face of Merchandising

All around the world, but most notably in the United States, the reality of merchandising is getting an update. The roles and the rules of merchandising are experiencing an evolution. Chief merchants, formerly concerned mainly with selection and presentation of products, now have broader accountability and a heavier hand in customer experience, as well as the development of design and talent related to display and marketing design.

Because consumer savviness is broadening and technology is playing such a massive role in merchandising, companies need to stay ahead of consumers’ expectations. Innovation and experimentation have a central role in retailers' merchandising strategies.

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