Top Merchandising Tips

By Denise Lamoureux

ZAG For Zoo & Aquarium BuyersMost retailers have been in a situation where there was a big product, company or merchandise decision to make, and they would have liked feedback but did not know whom to contact. Being a member of The Zoo & Aquarium Buyers Group (ZAG) provides the opportunity to ask retail buyers and managers from other establishments that are close in climate, size, location and traffic about what works for them, so retailers can utilize what they have learned. In the zoo and aquarium retail industry, there is no standard business model. However, no matter where you are, the following merchandising tips are sure to assist you in the retail world.

Focal point

There should be a prominent item in every presentation. A simple way to arrange merchandise on shelves is to start with a focal point, and add smaller related items to enhance it.

Make it special

When hanging pictures, artwork or masks, be sure not to place identical items near each other, as displaying duplicate items too closely makes them lose their appeal. When they are presented individually, they seem exclusive and special.

Sort by color or story

Items should be displayed in harmony, so be sure that they complement each other. The style and story must be compatible. Sort with color in mind and use warm hues, as well as black and white. Think of using color palettes inspired by a region or season.

Sweat the small stuff

Small details matter, so keep counters neat. Remove nails and wires from a wall when an item sells. Worn out price tags and packaging should be replaced, and signage must be updated and synchronized.

Keep it bright

Lighting is essential in calling attention to merchandise. A shopper’s eye is drawn automatically to the brightest item or area, so make sure all lighting is in good working order.

Keep it clean

You want your guests to remember your beautiful store, not dead bugs and dust. Attention to details like regular dusting and straightening may seem mundane, but these tasks are essential to maintaining a display’s high integrity and selling power.

Keep it matching

Each area of the store is designated for specific categories, and accessories must match too. Hooks should be the same size, color and length, when possible. All hangers on a clothing rack should match.

ZAG, Inc. is a non-profit organization comprised of merchandise buyers for zoos, aquariums and other wildlife related institutions and attractions. The goals of ZAG are to increase and improve communication between buyers, and to raise awareness and professionalism of the field within the zoo and aquarium industry. To learn more about ZAG, visit