When it comes to merchandising for small businesses, it's crucial that you create fresh, clean displays and make a great visual impression that encourages customers to buy. In this way, merchandising isn't so different from staging a play or building a movie set: You want to have everything ready for action when customers enter the store and look around. If your product displays and store layouts are uninspired, your customers and revenues will be uninspired as well.

Needless to say, your merchandising efforts will depend on the products you sell, the space you inhabit and your customers' preferences. Here are five merchandising tips to consider if you want to boost sales.

1. Learn From Your Customers

Observe your customers closely when they're inside your store. If they all seem to flock to one area and avoid another, ask yourself why and seek to make any necessary changes. Better yet, you can ask your customers themselves. Merchandising is a dynamic, data-driven process that must be updated constantly, depending on what's working and what isn't. As a best practice, you should experiment with different methods and then do more of what works and less of what doesn't work.

2. Make Your Top-Selling Products Easily Accessible

Once you determine which products your customers seem to truly love, you should rearrange your merchandise so that these products are easily accessible and displayed at eye level. And remember that vertical space is important, too.

You may also want to put products that are often purchased together next to each other. After all, a customer who comes into a grocery store looking for a Thanksgiving turkey would likely be happy to see the stuffing and cranberry sauce nearby. This type of bundling or packaging of related products offers a level of convenience that encourages customers to make larger purchases.

3. Create Themes

You may want to consider creating merchandising themes that align with your products and customers. During the holidays, for instance, you could potentially create a gift table or display area. Themes that reflect the current season or a consumer trend could be a great way to attract your customers' attention and keep your displays fresh.

4. Make Sure That Your Lighting and Color Scheme Is Working for You (and Not Against You)

If you notice that you have almost no foot traffic in a dark, dusty back corner, you may want to add some lighting and perhaps some color to make it more welcoming. After all, space that's not attracting customers is a retailer's nightmare. Ask yourself: Is the space inviting and customer friendly?

5. Develop Your Own Eye for Merchandising

Observing and talking to your customers about how they perceive your merchandising efforts is crucial, but so is developing your own creativity. Visit your competitors and analyze what they're doing with their displays, themes, lighting and use of color. Of course, you shouldn't copy them, but you can get some creative inspiration by looking around (even outside of your industry).

By creating a fresh, inviting environment for your customers and by crafting displays that make it easy for them to find what they're looking for, you'll be able to master merchandising for small businesses and help boost your bottom line.

Tags: Product Line market research