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  • Are You Struggling to Merchandise Because You Don’t Know the Pinwheel Concept?

    You’ve worked hard on your business. You know your target market. You have a quality product. You’ve trained your staff.

    For some reason, you’re just not getting the response you hoped for. Customers aren’t buying.

    You’re not sure where to turn.

    What do you do next?

    Do you create new displays? Put everything on sale?
    Get someone to help you with merchandising?
    You know you need to do something.
    But what?

    Before you make any decisions, you need to understand the pinwheel concept.

    Have you ever played with a pinwheel?

    A pinwheel has four vanes that capture wind and spin the pinwheel. In your business, the four vanes are four areas of information. This information is what you need to know to merchandise your store effectively.

    The information takes the struggle out of merchandising decisions. And when you struggle less, your business starts to gain momentum. The pinwheel starts to spin.

    So, what do I need to know?

    First, you need to understand the four areas of the pinwheel. Then you’ll learn WHY you need this information to merchandise your store. Finally, you’ll discover how to use this information to make merchandising decisions.

    So, let’s get started.

    Analyze the information in the pinwheel.

    The four areas that you need to know about are:


    Let’s look at these in more detail. You will probably know some of this information already, but probably not all of it.

    1. Customer

    What do you need to know about your customer?
    As much as you can. Does she shop alone, or bring a friend or family member? How often does she visit?

    Find out what she likes best about your store. Her favourite products. How did she hear about your store?
    If she could change something about your store, what would it be? What service could you add that she would love? What would she love to tell their friends about your store?

    Customers will be happy to be asked about their opinion. Ask questions when helping them shop, use a survey or try a focus group. Take a customer or two out for coffee.

    2. Products

    How are your products performing?

    Make it a habit to always know your highest and lowest selling products. Do some detective work on these items. Do your highest sellers have a good margin?

    Study where these items are placed. Perhaps the lowest selling items are hard for customers to find. How often are products rotated and displays changed? How long has all your merchandise been in the store?
    Make sure you know the competitors that offer similar products. What are the price points? How are they displayed?

    3. Sales

    It is important to track your sales results on a daily basis. How do your sales compare to last year? To your plan?
    Know the details of your daily sales. What is the average number of items in each transaction? And the average dollar amount of each sale?

    4. Traffic

    Analyze your traffic. Count the number of visitors each day. Calculate your conversion rate: number of daily sales divided by number of daily visitors. Multiply this number by 100 to get the percentage of visitors that are converted to paying customers.

    Watch your customers walk through the store. What attracts their attention? What do they touch? How long do they spend in the store? Where do they spend the most time in the store?

    Why do you need to know these things?

    The four key ‘vanes’ of information help your business keep moving. Without information in these areas, merchandising decisions become guesses.

    If a vane of the pinwheel is missing, it doesn’t spin. It turns a little. And stops. Then starts again.

    To start spinning continuously, the pinwheel needs all four vanes. Once it starts moving smoothly, it gains momentum and keeps spinning.

    When you start catching the information in the four areas of your business, it starts to move. A little at a time. The information you take in begins to tell you what to do.

    You don’t need to guess.

    What the pinwheel will tell you.
    (As good as a crystal ball? Almost.)

    You might already be collecting this information and not using it. It’s no good sitting in a report. Or a computer file. Now is the time to put it to use.

    Here’s what you can learn by analyzing the pinwheel information.

    What merchandise to buy

    Analyzing your customers’ needs, feedback and top sellers to know what to buy. Focus on products that your competitors don’t carry.

    What merchandise to markdown and clear out

    Merchandise sitting on shelves and not moving is costing you money. You are paying rent on the space it takes up. If the product is more than three months old, consider marking it down. If you’ve had something sitting in the store for six months to a year, move it out. Deep discount it to free up the cash for new merchandise.

    Older than 1 year? Old merchandise makes the store look stale, crowded and boring. Some things may never sell. Once in a while it may be best to just pull items off the floor. If you have the space to store it, pull it out for a sidewalk or warehouse sale.

    Where to place merchandise

    Place high margin, strong sellers in high visibility, high traffic areas. Use these areas for new regular priced, high value merchandise.
    As a general rule, put sale items at the back of the store. Customers are willing to work harder for discounts.

    Use cross-merchandising and displays to encourage multiple purchases. Change displays weekly to keep merchandise fresh, and capture the interest of shoppers.

    When to have promotions or events

    Use your traffic analysis to plan limited time promotions or small events. Use them to boost traffic during slow times.

    Use the pinwheel to find out key information about your business.

    Then make a change to your merchandising. Measure the results.
    If it works, do more of it.

    Less struggle. More momentum.
    Get that pinwheel spinning.

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