A Trade Magazine for New Age Retailers

Shop Talk – March 2020

A Selection of FIVE best questions about



How important is it to move things around in a store that is mostly visited by tourists?

The main reason that most retail store consultants emphasize changing displays and rearranging merchandise is so that your store looks “fresh” and, rather than being bored, customers have the impression that there is always something new and exciting to be found each time they visit. As your question suggests, when your clientele is mostly tourists, you do not have to rearrange and create new displays as often as if you have a regular, home-town customer base, but it is still important.

One thing to consider is that, while you many have a large number of tourists visit your store, there are probably some regulars. These may be people who live nearby and bring their family and friends (some of the tourists) when they come to visit. So, it is essential to provide them with new items to explore and appreciate too, if only because it makes them excited and that excitement gets them talking and thinking about sharing that excitement with friends.

The other thing to consider is that moving merchandise around is not just for appearance sake. There is the cleanliness aspect – when things get moved shelves get dusted and cleaned. And also, energetically, holding, touching, dusting and relocating items helps them sell better. I have no scientific proof of this, but I do know from years of experience that changing a display, or switching merchandise to a different shelf, somehow makes it noticed and more desirable. And that includes customer attention. I can’t tell you how many times an item will sit for days or weeks and not sell, and then a customer will notice it, love it, and even plan to come back and buy it, and another customer will walk in and buy it later that day! Items simply sell better when attention has been paid to them.

So, if you decide to move things around less, be sure that you have some kind of rotation timetable, so merchandise does not just sit, as well as a regular cleaning schedule so everything is clean and inviting.

Published in Vol32/Issue1/2018 – Written by Kim Perkins.


After two years of looking for a location, we finally found it and are now finalizing our financial plan to open this fall. One thing I am confused about is what inventory-turn target we should shoot for. Is there an industry average? How do I figure this out?

Inventory turnover, or inventory turns, measures the number of times the dollars you have invested in inventory sells during a specific time period, usually a year. It is a way to measure how quickly your inventory is turned into sales and therefore profit. You can find your inventory turn rate in a couple of ways. You can take your total retail sales and divide it by your average inventory for the year at retail price. Or, the method I prefer is to take your cost of goods sold for the year and divide it by your average yearly inventory at cost. If you don’t have a point-of-sale program that tells you your average inventory, add your inventory value at the beginning of the year with the inventory value at year end and divide by 2 to get your average.

My best answer is to shoot for an inventory turn of between 3.5 and 4. When your inventory turns under 2 times, it indicates you have too much inventory or too much that just doesn’t sell. And turns of more than 5 or 6 can be good, but more is not always better. When inventory turns that quickly, it may mean you run out of bestsellers, and if customers repeatedly find you are sold out of their favorites, they may start to shop somewhere else. It is a balancing act to order just in time, so you are never out but not overstocked either.

Published in Vol27/Issue 6/2013 – Written by Kim Perkins.


A friend of mine who has a similar store in a neighboring state recommended I purchase a line of bath-care products that were “flying” off her shelves. I did and was so excited, but they have only collected dust on my shelves! I made a major investment (for me) and now I’m not sure what to do?

Even though it’s not much consolation at this point, you have learned a valuable purchasing lesson: Do not make a huge investment in any product line unless you are sure it will be well received by your customers. Better to place a smaller initial order and have to reorder right away than be stuck with merchandise that doesn’t move. As you have unfortunately discovered, not all merchandise sells well in all geographical areas.

The first thing I suggest is to contact your friend and ask her to send you a photo of her display. Did she do something clever and eye-catching? Is the product easily visible? What kind of signage did she use? If nothing stands out visually, it may simply be that this particular line sells well in some stores and not in others. It happens. At that point, I would try to move it to a new location within the store and see if that generates more interest. If not, you could offer a “Buy One, Get One” special on that line to help you recoup at least some of your investment. If that doesn’t work, I would call the vendor, explain the situation, and ask if they would allow you to return. Finally, I would donate it to a local nonprofit and write it off to the “looked like a good idea at the time” history book. Rest assured, we have all made an entry in that book from time to time!

Published in Vol28/Issue 3/2014 – Written by Kim Perkins.


We offer a variety of classes and workshops in our store that we list on our website, and our customers are asking for a more convenient way to sign up and pay for them besides coming to the store to sign up in person.  Do you have any recommendations for an online appointment-scheduling program that would integrate with my website?

Automating tasks such as this can be incredibly time saving. While I don’t have specific recommendations for an online appointment-scheduling program, we have come up with a system we find efficient for processing class payments at our store:  A shopping cart integrated into our website.

We use a calendar plugin on our WordPress website that has a place for a link to obtain payment.  Customers can easily click on the link to register and pay. The link brings them to a product page, which uses a shopping cart plugin for payment. The option of using PayPal or a credit card (Authorize.net) is provided. When the payment is made, an email is sent to the shop’s address. With that email, the payment is processed in our point-of-sale program, and the customer is manually added to the class attendance list.

In the emails sent to notify our customers of events, we provide the option of paying by phone or paying online within the website. The offer to pay online is hyperlinked to the event “product” page.  The majority of our customers call the store to reserve their spot using a credit card.  Approximately 70 percent call to buy their “ticket” and 25 percent reserve online. The remaining five percent stop by to make payment in person.

A number of online storefront options are available. Look into Cart66, Shopify, Marketpress, WooCommerce, X-Cart, Magento, and so many more. Take a look at which shopping cart plugin works with your current website. It is also possible to use MeetUp.com as an avenue for prepayment for events when using the payment option within their system. Many customers have found our store through our MeetUp account, and it has become a worthwhile marketing tool to advertise events. I have not used the payment option on MeetUp, but rather provide the phone number or the link to the event product page on our site to reserve their spot.

Published in Vol30/Issue 6/2016 – Written by Margaret Ann Lembo.


I want to promote impulse purchases, but I don’t want to clutter the cash wrap with random items in a jumble of different displays. Do you have any suggestions for how to merchandise small point-of-purchase items in a way that attracts attention without looking messy?

The key to fitting a large variety of small items into a small space all comes down to the display. You need a clean, consistent display that can hold a variety of items throughout the year.

My suggestion is to go on the hunt for a group of vessels that feel like they match. They don’t have to be the same size (in fact, it’s better if the sizes are varied) or even the same color, they just need to feel like they go together. Think of how you would arrange a group of treasured keepsakes. Tall with short, grouped in twos and threes, offset from each other. That is how you want to arrange your vessels.

Once you like your arrangement you can fill them up with products. You can change around the items as often as you want or need, while maintaining a clean well curated look. Just mixing up the colors of items in the various vessels will make the space feel new. I also like the look of a large tray—you can arrange various items on it and change them as needed while maintaining the look of the space.

Published in Vol31/Issue 3/2017 – Written by Seasons Koll.



Retailing Insight
Author: Retailing Insight