Trends & Features

Improve your visual merchandising

How should retailers merchandise their stock to each gender?
The fashion element is somewhat misleading, as both male and female shoppers typically look for different things. Men generally buy single items like t-shirts and track pants, whereas women multi-buy in coordinated outfits of a particular colour or design. This means men shop by commodity and women by collections, placing a greater need to create strong visual merchandising ‘story telling’ for women’s ranges.

What techniques can a retailer apply to ensure they cater equally for male and female customers?
With sports apparel, men are attracted to the strong use of branding and graphic prints, while women are drawn to products with seasonal colour interest, which may tie in with mainstream fashion trends. Promoting these differences in preferences through window and in-store displays works very well to appeal to both types of shopper. Featuring different genders on graphics or using well dressed mannequin groups can immediately change customers’ perception of the product offer.

Seasonally rotating the product layout gives the opportunity to promote different genders. If retailers use men’s products in prime space when promoting football or rugby in the winter, why not use women’s products when promoting tennis or running in the summer? A good balance of male and female staff also subconsciously sends out a good balance message.

What techniques can be used to ensure a website is attractive to both sexes?
Online it’s less about gender bias and more about lifestyle image that’s appropriate to either the store or the brands it stocks. Navigation is key, however this is different to in-store. Online it’s much easier for customers to view by gender first and then by sport.

The use, colouration and quantity of images dedicated to specific genders become more important both as navigational and targeting tools, particularly on the home page. More often than not, the language and tone of voice used is male centric and not female friendly, but this can easily and cost-effectively be addressed.

What can a retailer learn from retail psychology research to help them better direct stock lines to each sex?
Generally, women are more likely to impulse shop than men, who prefer to destination shop. Therefore, accessories can be merchandised together in the women’s section to drive sales on other product lines. Often women purchase sports items for their children. By using good product adjacencies sports retailers can influence sales on impulse purchases. Pick-up items at till points are also an easy way of increasing basket size.

How can retailers get an edge over their larger competitors?
Customers using independent sports retailers will be looking for specialist products, help and advice. In other words, great customer service – gender is not a deciding factor. Product knowledge is key, and focus should be given to customer advice and specialist services such as racquet stringing or tuition.

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