Training Webinars: Power up your Holiday Visual Merchandising!

The retail holiday season can feel like a runaway train once it starts and for many stores, the visual merchandising strategy is relegated to “pile it high and watch it fly.” Time is tight and developing a strategy can feel overwhelming, especially if you aren’t sure where to start. These three webinars, developed specifically for outdoor retailers, will provide your team with immediately executable skills and solid direction on display areas, cross merchandising and gift groupings, and event planning so that you move more merchandise while providing a positive in-store experience for your customers. Webinar attendees will also receive 20% off a visual merchandising assessment to continue their learning. Investment: $49.99 for all three sessions. Space is limited, so hurry up and sign up here!

Master the following in three separate meetings:

1 – Windows, Front of Department & Front of Store: Wednesday October 26, 2016

Your window, Front of Department (FOD) and Front of Store (FOS) displays can be a powerful draw especially during the holidays. Windows, FOD and FOS act together, like a headline to a magazine article does, to invite the consumer into your store and departments by hinting at what they will find inside. There are some simple visual merchandising tricks to make the development of themes easier to execute and for changing them frequently. How to create a plan for your individual store will also be discussed. This session will be highly visual and will lead you through these tricks so you leave the webinar ready to attack your windows!

2 – Gift Groupings and Cross Merchandising: Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A wonderful way to make your environment the go-to-place for buying holiday gifts is to provide ideas for the perfect presents. Placing gift groupings with merchandise from multiple departments in your store’s hot spots (we’ll talk about this too) is a wonderful visual cue for your customers. Some well thought-out cross merchandising can serve to spur sales of items that alone might not be so sexy, but that when placed with other products becomes a highly desired gift. This interactive workshop will make sure you are ready to roll with these effective tips!

3 – Engaging with Events: Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Today’s retail environment does more than sell merchandise–savvy retailers know the value of creating experiences for their shoppers. Experiences tap into our limbic brain which is where emotion lives and we tend to remember experiences more than a list of facts. And events are experiences! This session will explore how to plan simple events for your particular audience as well as explore ideas for these events. Attendees will leave this webinar with one event planned and ready to be implemented.

Posted in Outdoor Retail Merchandising, Retail sales, visual merchandiser, visual merchandising display tips, Visual Merchandising Tips, visual merchandising training and education | Leave a comment

Visual Merchandising Tours: Outdoor Retailer Summer 2016

Outdoor Retailer is a feast for the eyes for anyone who wants a concentrated glimpse into what makes a brand jump off the page and come to life. This August I had the honor of leading the Visual Merchandising Tours on behalf of the show and the theme was: Storytelling. Engagement. Creating an Experience. Creating a following.

Each tour visited between 8-11 booths and ended with a Q&A session in the Retailer Lounge. After the final tour, a winner was chosen for a Visual Merchandising Assessment and the winner was Trailhead Paddle Shack! I’ll document our assessment journey in the coming months, so be sure to follow along.

The challenge at the show was making choices that presented a variety of styles and ideas so that participants would appreciate the value in being authentic and identify with the differing personality of brands. Not an easy task when at Outdoor Retailer, but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!

Where we stopped and why:


PopticalsThis brand is in love with lime green which is a great ‘pop’ color and one that gets attention and truth be told that was what first captured my eye. But then I was surprised by the enormous Razor on the aisle and a booth employee said, “I bet you want to take that for a ride,” to which I laughed. We began a conversation and I was provided an opportunity to learn more about the brand.

Takeaway: Consider a ‘lead in’ pop to surprise visitors and attract the attention of passer’s by. The Razor was there as a conversation starter, a tool to capture the attention along with the bright green. It worked. But beware: There is a downside, and that is that instead of attention being focused on your product, the attention might go to something you don’t sell. Surprises are wonderful attention getters, just be sure they make sense.



United by Blue: This stop was in celebration of the UBB brand evolution as well as their continued seamlessness in the visual merchandising and messaging of their story. United by Blue, committed to cleaning up our nation’s waterways continues to stay true to their story and their ‘why’ for being in business. The booth is the ‘outdoors indoors’ with signage that layers upon their clean-up story paired with products that support their mission. Mulch, grass, an abundance of plants and trees, all contribute to tell a story that communicates the love UBB has for the planet.

Takeaway: Know your mission and story and remain true to it, even as you grow. Include the outdoors in your indoor merchandising to help us ‘feel’ the story you are telling. Let our limbic brain get cozy with who you are so we can become fervent supporters.


Osprey: Packs can be unwieldy at best for a first time novice and usually they are arranged on a wall where it can be challenging to differentiate what pack will best meet the needs of the consumer. Things like suspension and ventilation are important attributes,  but when pack stories are told, the product becomes relatable to our individual experience.  Osprey’s shares their product attributes with simple language accompanied with one pack that can be easily explored. The creme de la creme is the reference to well-known local trails that makes the connection tangible and engaging.

Takeaway: Distill the messaging on your products and spotlight one or two or three to simplify the choices for your customers and provide them with a little information so that they can interact with your sales staff in a knowledgeable way. Add a local reference that defines how the product you chose might be used to simplify understanding and merchandise attributes.


Patagonia: A company that uses the words environmental and social responsibility and backs up their story with real life, tangible marketing and merchandising messaging. The Worn Wear mobile is Patagonia’s warranty policy on wheels. Combined with the messaging on the booth exterior wheels, their messaging is both bold and reflective of their brand story.

Takeaway: Don’t be half-assed or inauthentic. If your brand is built on a mission or foundation, be bold and let that story shine in everything from what message you provide on your walls to how you interact with consumers and demonstrate this mission in your actions. Empower your storytelling with story doing.


Gramicci: Digital technology is often used for providing product information, end use, technological education, etc., but in this case the screen invites us to join in a story of nostalgia. Grainy images reminiscent of a 16mm set to music while children plan with their father outside invokes emotion, a powerful tug at the limbic system of the consumer. The screen is surrounded by children’s product hung on a wall, the simple shorts many of us wore for our very first hike.

Takeaway:  Consider using technology to tell your story, or the story of your vision/mission and team without ‘selling.’ Let your shoppers engage on an emotional level with who you are and what matters to you.


Canada Goose: Canada Goose is known for luxury outerwear and their booth reflects this high end story. Product is shown in a curated style and allowed plenty of room to breathe in a minimalist style.

Takeaway: Give YOUR high-end merchandise room to breathe and make sure it isn’t stuffed on a fixture arm or shoved on to a shelve and covered in dust. Luxury or high end products require merchandising that reflects the price point.


NRS: This new booth takes some of the mystery out of paddling and especially dry bags for the novice water sports participant. Dry bags that are stuffed and placed on shelves so that customers can eye the difference in size versus being reliant on trying to visualize what size they need combined with letting color generate an invitation are great merchandising decisions for a category that can be unwieldy at retail. The only negative? NRS is 100% company owned and that cool company story is not shared.

Takeaway: Take merchandise out of the box or package and let your customers touch and feel it. And let your brand story be known!


Vibram: This booth exudes a fun vibe and playful invitation to come on in by using vibrant colors, a steep incline to test out the sticky soles and soles stuck to the walls which serve as art.

Takeaway: Provide a way to test your merchandise and have fun with product placement. Be unafraid to create a surprise (and a smile) especially if you are working with fun wares.


Sole: Games are a wonderful way to engage your shoppers in an experience with YOU. This cork wall allowed interaction with the cork story of Sole’s footwear in an engaging way. Marketing kudos also needs to go to Sole for all the messaging in the restrooms throughout Salt Palace about their brand. It would be impossible to leave OR without hearing about SOLE (unless you never used the restroom).

Takeaway: Have some fun with your customers–don’t be afraid to play a game. Events are the lifeblood of today’s retailers because events create experiences. Create an experience!


Yeti: If your story is “Built for the wild” then your merchandising should include a bit of the wild in it’s storytelling, yes? Yeti creates an exterior wall that looks like it could be the shed wall of a mountain cabin and even cooler, does a little cross-merchandising by showing merchandise they don’t sell to create a more authentic story and suggest uses for their coolers. A television screen mounted in the sawed off portion of an old truck bed adds to the wild detailing.

Takeaway: Tell a well-rounded story in your merchandising and consider partnering with other brands or retailers when you develop stories so you can help one another out and even better? Create community.


Timex: How do you layer your marketing and merchandising with simplicity? With the introduction of their Simplest GPS Watch Ever, Timex had some fun with their booth, choosing cardboard materials to tell the simplicity story. The cardboard is utilized in product packaging, wraps itself around brochures and was used to make tables, chairs, even the vase and flowers.

Takeaway: Let your story be told in the details you use! Do you have a sense of humor? Are you devoted to a particular hiking area? Find your bliss in the water? Want to get to know your customers? Identify and use details that support this story. Let your customers know who you are.

This is just a sample of the magic I shared with tour participants, stay tuned for more images in the next few months, and I hope you’ll join me at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2017 to get in on the fun (But be sure to sign up early, the tours were fully booked a few weeks before the show!)


Posted in fashion merchandising, merchandising displays, shelving, display cases, Merchandising Planning, Outdoor Retail Merchandising, retail display, Retail sales, small business tips, trade shows, visual merchandiser, visual merchandising display tips, Visual Merchandising Tips, visual merchandising training and education | Tagged | Leave a comment

Words on developing creativity by feeding inspiration at Outdoor Retailer

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Gather a Group//Get Visual


What if you could get the type of specialized visual merchandising training you most desire for your store without a break-the-bank price tag? What if you could get a crash course in visual merchandising that could make a measurable difference in your store’s sales? Well…you can, especially if you gather a group!

Workshops and clinics provided by Merchandising Matters are industry-specific and geared to meet the goals of your group so that you walk away with a skill set that grows confidence and creativity and that strengthens teamwork along the way.

Training topics include visual merchandising basics, product placement, development of display, ways to adapt consumer psychology into your environment, floorset and event planning, etc.

Training can be virtual or live. On-site training includes some hands-on play to cement skill development. There is also the option with live training to incorporate a guided walking tour of retailers in your area which can be a powerful learning activity. All workshops are highly visual and interactive and are developed to spur inspirational and creative problem-solving.

What do you need to do? Gather a group, determine a host location and invite Merchandising Matters to your neighborhood today.

Let the fun begin!


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Visual Merchandising Tours and Why They Should Be a Part of your Process

what's the point?

what’s the point?


Outdoor Retailer is just a few days away and for my outdoor retail friends, I want to recommend making the time for visual merchandising tours. Merchandising tours are a task I recommend to anyone in the merchandising, sales or marketing arenas for two reasons:


  • Inspiration – When you see something that inspires or moves you, you refresh your perspective and have an opportunity to reignite your own work from a space of excitement and you just might get a deeper insight into how to tell your business story.
  • Solutions – If you struggle with merchandising a particular item, it’s pretty certain you are not alone. Visual merchandising tours give you an opportunity to see what solutions others have discovered. Even better? You begin to think outside the box and open your creative mind to finding your own unique solution as well!


I recommend taking advantage of fantastic visual merchandising opportunities like trade shows or scheduling time with your sales staff to wander a local mall. This is not to be confused with a competitor analysis or tours with the primary focus of checking out what your competition is doing, though visiting competitors is a great idea! Instead, a visual merchandising tour should include a wandering kind of spirit and be an adventure into what captures your attention.

When I led Visual Merchandising Tours at Outdoor Retailer, I spent a few hours just walking the floor noting where something caught my attention. I worked off a list of merchandising elements in an attempt to capture examples in as many categories as possible for participants. The categories I kept in mind included:

  • lighting
  • flooring
  • signage
  • display
  • fixturing
  • story
  • use of technology
  • product interaction
  • booth architecture


After I had a good list of notable booths, I revisited them and looked in depth at what caused me to ‘see’ in a place heavy on visual and auditory overload. I asked booth personnel if I could take a picture and took a few moments to chat about what I was seeing and getting some background.

What is key to an inspirational and educational tour is an ability to look outside your own product specific focus and here’s why:

It’s a little like heading out to shop and specifically seeking a white blouse, but while you browse you don’t find a white blouse. You find yellow, pink, maybe even a light blue that you love, but your focus is so strictly on the white that you fail to notice that maybe, just maybe another color might do. In other words, if you only pay attention to how footwear is being displayed, you might miss the innovative fixturing someone developed for dog products, a fixture idea that you could have potentially adapted to footwear.

I believe inspiration speaks loud and clear, and often the issue is we just don’t listen. A visual merchandising tour is important little break you give yourself to remember how to see, pay attention, and how to listen to what pulls your attention and especially, how to let the human part of you be pulled.

Just like you want to pull your customers to you.


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Your story starts with….WHY

I’m working with a writer right now who is incredibly intelligent, who not only has strong opinions, but has the life experience and mind to be the right person to voice those opinions, and he’s rocking it.

We started working together a few months ago when he decided he wanted to take the message he had shared in a TEDx talk and spread his message via the written word. Aside from our work on the mechanics of setting goals and getting published, we have spent most of our time helping him bring his voice, the one no one else has, to the surface. He’s worked super hard to understand why he is driven to write on the subjects he does and to bring himself into his stories where it warrants, so that he can engage with his readers on subjects that matter dearly to him. And he’s rocking it.

He’s rocking it because he has found his voice and is learning how to use it. Bravely. Without apology. Honestly.

Man, do I love working with people like him!

I spoke with a retail brand today, a company that is seeking guidance on how to best communicate their story, especially with their retailers. They know that the distance between the buy and when the product arrives in store is great and that much can be lost in the translation. I suggested to them that the answer is to understand that all learning comes in layers. Learning is most effective when it has a strategy behind it with multiple layers and is not a random white paper that arrives when change is in the air or without some thought as to ‘why.’

I’m a huge believer in answering the question, ‘why?’  before determining how and what. Why do you want to write? Start a company? Sell your product? Why do you do what you do?

Until you uncover your why, telling the story of you and your business might feel choppy or disjointed.

The journey from ‘why’ to story has no set time frame-it might be a sprint or it might feel like a marathon, but when one isn’t seduced by shortcuts and is willing to put in the work, the foundation is significant, so stable that it would be a supreme challenge to knock it down.

Here’s an example of Apple’s why (from Simon Sinek’s TED talk transcript “Start with Why”:

“Here’s how Apple actually communicates – Everything we do we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly.

Your why is not your ‘how’ or your ‘what.’ Your why is also not about making money or becoming famous – your why is your core belief system or essence, the thing that makes you run, the thing that drives you, the thing you must share with your staff and customers. It is what makes the right ‘others’ fall in love with you or your brand.

In our culture, identifying these nuances in life and business can be readily dismissed in lieu of the formulation of a business plan or logo design. But your why is where your story starts. Just like your home or place of business must have a solid foundation to support the structure that will rest upon it, so does your business or professional direction. Your why is what supports good decision making and movement towards your goals, goals that reflect your personal belief system.

I will be delivering a workshop in Boulder in January, “Getting to Why,” that guides participants through the discovery of their why so that they can begin their story from a solid foundation. I am also available to work privately with individuals or in small groups (up to three) either virtually or live. Email me for more information on this process and to be added to that email chain.

Posted in Holiday merchandising tips, merchandising displays, shelving, display cases, Outdoor Retail Merchandising, Retail sales, small business tips, trade show merchandising, visual merchandising display tips, Visual Merchandising Tips, visual merchandising training and education, Working with a Visual Merchandising Consultant | Leave a comment

Stand Out. Tell your OWN Story.


I was interviewed recently by the awesome Kristin Carpenter-Ogden of Verde PR and LivingUber and we chatted about the power of story in brand messaging and retail visual merchandising. We shared our views on engaging in a connected society that is actually…disconnected. (You can listen to the interview here.)
Stories have been a vital part of human communication since the beginning of time and are far more enticing and memorable than academic or technical elements. When used well in marketing and merchandising, stories tend to do more than expand consumer base. A good story line creates a following.
Your visual and verbal creative expression–as the storyteller you are–silently sells…or doesn’t.
The million dollar question is how does one tell a story that magnetically pulls an audience in? How does one get comfy taking the risk of being both a beacon and a screen–a beacon pulling like-minded individuals in and screening those that dance to a different melody–in storytelling?
If you know why you are in business (not how, but WHY) and you have spent time unearthing who you are in life and business, who you are is your business, the arc of creating story becomes more seamless and natural and when you are natural, real and even raw, you provide an opportunity for your audience or consumers to engage. Your audience believes you. Your audience trusts you. Look at REI’s #OptOutside campaign or check out United by Blue’s work.
The decision to be ‘you’ in business is rather simple, but involves a risk that hits many of us in a soft spot: What happens if I let myself really be seen and I’m not understood (or liked, or lose money etc.)?
When we put ourselves and our businesses out there, this risk is real, but here’s the thing: we also open the door to a deeper and more loyal connection with like-minded folk, we open the door to finding our people.
Don’t know what your story is? I’m here to help. Let’s talk.
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The less than linear path

I launched Merchandising Matters over six years ago. I worked with a designer and developed my website, purchased business cards and hung out my virtual ‘plaque.’ I timed the start of my new business with a move to Colorado giving the phrase ‘fresh start’ new meaning. Everything was new to me: friends, location, climate, home, you name it.

It was an exciting time, but it tested me to the core. To say it was challenging is an understatement.

Through the years Merchandising Matters has morphed into something I could not have possibly have envisioned, and the road I have traveled as a sole proprietor has been anything but linear, with me even recently contemplating closing the doors on Merchandising Matters because something felt off.

I’ve taken enormous risks and experienced the high of success and the low of perceived failure, and reinvented and redefined what I do countless times, and along the way have learned grace. I’ve learned how to give myself permission to twist and turn as I find my way.

I’m all in now. I wasn’t before.

Not everyone will experience starts and stops like I have. Some will launch their business with a crystal clear vision that never deviates, but I write this post today for those that are perhaps still seeking, but have not yet found their solid direction. I write this post today for those that might feel alone and wonder what the heck they are doing wrong.

I write this post for the dreamers, the idea-populators, the creatively inspired, and the late bloomers. I write this post for those who experience self-doubt, are encountering barriers or who wonder if it’s time to toss in the hat. I write this for those with a passion for their work but who may be feeling a little lost.

About eight months ago, I was floundering. My past work as visual merchandising consultant felt out of focus and lacking in passion. My workshops were loosing money. My writing work felt directionless and my bank account would have been humorous had it not been terrifying. I spent hours outdoors, hiking, riding, or just sitting and meditating near a stream trying to hear myself again.

I knew I was at a crossroads and that I was a little lost.

So I did something I’m getting better at: I asked for directions.

I reached out to my power circle, the people who I respect in business and life, and I asked them for feedback, listened to them share what they saw as opportunities in the changing business climate and the outdoor industry and most important of all, I listened to myself speak.

I heard myself speak with confidence about the things I care deeply about and believe. I heard myself share ideas and listened as they were reflected back by movers and shakers in my industry. I was reignited. And I walked away with a renewed focus, which felt a bit like trading in jeans that don’t fit for a pair that does.

Along the winding path of my business journey, I encountered spaces that were not a good fit, but I would not have known this had I not opened those doors for a peek. The space I am in today is possible precisely because I followed a variety of paths before changing direction and finding my way to today.

My journey as a business owner has involved work with small businesses, as a volunteer, with the CEO’s of major brands, as a coach to businesses and individuals who want to identify and tell their story and I’ve presented at a number of popular trade shows. I’ve worked as a writer, workshop leader, and launched another business, Permission to Leap, in the midst of it all that focuses on helping writers and storytellers tell their own unique stories.

I work with others to stay true to their gift. I believe in the power of story. I know with certainty that human beings want to engage with other human beings. I believe that our personal and professional lives should fit together whenever possible.

And I have the skills to show others the way, to help bring to the surface the magnificent ideas and dreams they already have. I teach them to give themselves permission to leap.

So if you are encountering walls on your own professional journey, my advice to you is to look for a door. And if you can’t find the door alone? Hire someone who can help you carve a beautiful one.

The following tips were my personal game changers:

  • Let go of should have’s or embarrassment or rules if your path is not linear. No one is born knowing exactly where they are going.
  • Learn to trust yourself and do whatever you need to do to improve your confidence.
  • Listen to your inner compass, your heart or whatever is keeping you up at night. Our bodies are incredibly smart and will alert us — we need to get better at listening. I find meditation and journaling to be the most powerful tools for hearing me.
  • Reach out to those you respect and ask for help. Hire the right consultant (or fairy godmother) and invest in yourself. Realize that you are worth the investment.
  • Remember that who you are is integrally connected to what you do. They must be in alignment for you to feel like you are wearing the right size jeans.
  • Focus. I am an idea person and can easily be pulled in twenty different directions and have worked hard on finding a way to harvest my ideas but stay true to the road I’m on. I’ve elicited the help of friends to keep me on track.
  • Know why you are doing what you are doing and revisit this regularly. Have it written down somewhere you can see it daily..
  • Have a plan. Revise it as necessary.

It took me almost six years to marry my skills into a cohesive package–I’m a storyteller who guides others to creative expression either visually or through the written word. The outdoors is my go-to guru for inspiration, perspective and clarity.

Stick with it. You have something to offer. You are learning. Be patient, but maintain momentum. Ask for directions when you are lost. Stop thinking of making money first.

Remember. You are learning how to dance to the tune of the dream only you have. And this takes practice.

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Training Tools: Teach How. Teach Why.

helping grow

Can you imagine being hired to do a job and not receiving training? Or being asked to fulfill a role and not being provided with a clear understanding of how to achieve the desired outcome?

Do you think it would be possible to do perform well under those circumstances?

Over the past few years I’ve worked with small and large retailers, large trade shows, emerging and well-established brands and individuals who are writers, thought leaders and business owners.

Hands down, every project I’ve been asked to lead can be boiled down to one priceless element: Communication.


I believe that most people want to do a good job. In order for them to do a good job, they need to know what to do.

Far too many employers leave communication to chance which can result in time wasted, off-the-mark projects, and/or frustrated and disenfranchised individuals who lose momentum. Healthy and positive risk taking is elusive without communication because it is when we have a clear picture of expectation that we have the necessary outline of how to move forward.

My most valuable experience in recent years was while performing as a visual merchandising project lead during my store remodel and at new store openings across the country while working at REI.

Projects like these move fast and usually operate under chaotic and changing conditions with newly-formed teams that may or may not have experience. The teams I led numbered from 3 or 4 to 25 at a time. During our store remodel, we would arrive around 7 a.m. and begin the task of making a store that had undergone overnight construction back into a shoppable store. Every morning was a surprise but we had to be ready to open the doors at 10 a.m. New store openings had a set opening day. The task of a project lead was to not only lead my team to create a consumer experience, but to train sales staff in visual merchandising practices along the way.

I had floorset plans which were able to be interpreted because of the training foundation I had received. A foundation that began with a company manual*.

I learned the value of not only teaching others best practices, but explaining the reason behind the inevitable adaptations and out-of-the-box solutions necessitated by things that did not go according to the book by sharing the why behind the plan.

We must know how and why.

When we know how to do a task and the why behind decision-making, we are given the tools to develop creative problem solving techniques that are real-life and more likely than not in alignment with desired outcome. We give valuable autonomy to the people we hire. We develop a team.

Identifying and documenting your best practices lays the foundation for your staff. This is not a luxury for businesses that want to hit home runs, it is a necessity. When I work with a client on the development and documentation of a manual, it is a wonderful opportunity for organization leaders to determine and identify what they value most in their practices. The development of these tools pay for themselves over time.

Merchandising is a team sport and like any team sport, the rules and guidelines of the game need to be clearly communicated so that we can trust one another and ourselves. Training in both technique and policy are important.

I view training as a series of layers that when attended to result in a system that is seamless.

Human beings have different learning styles and a good training program involves all of them. Good layers include:

  • The foundation: Best Practice Manual
  • Make it come alive: Group workshops where the ‘why’ is explored
  • Touchy-feely: Hands-on practice to understand the ‘how’
  • Cementing skills: Follow up and feedback
  • Trainer evolution: Identifying and developing training apprentices

Individuals who know what is expected of them and know what to do are not only being given the tools to be a team member, they tend to be happier and more satisfied team members.

They also know how to do a good job.

*I’m here to help. Reach out for a complimentary consult and begin the layering of your training. 

Posted in Merchandising Planning, Retail sales, small business tips, visual merchandiser, Visual Merchandising Tips, visual merchandising training and education | Tagged | Leave a comment

Merchandising Matters talks merchandising basics

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