How to Merchandise or Stock Shelves Without a Plan-O-Gram

If you work in a store that receives no corporate Plan-O-Grams or just want to make end cap displays look better, this is an article for you. This is especially great if you own your own close out store or other type of store that receives merchandise and simply needs to put it out without guidance.

Organize the product to be put out in groupings of products. Categorize these groupings as departments such as: Health and Beauty Aids, Food, Paper Goods, Party, School Supplies, Household Chemicals, and so forth. Separate these in the backroom on flatbeds or whatever the store has to haul the product around the store to be put out. Put what doesn't fit on the flatbeds in groups of separate departments on skids or shelving.

Decide where the department is going in the store if there are no separate departments already. Keep these departments separate and always remerchandise with the same department's products.

Decide how you want the products grouped within the separate departments. Do not just throw whatever is from the department on the shelf next to the same department. Have certain areas for certain products. For example, in Health and Beauty Aids, have an area where toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash and other dental items go. Group the toothpaste by itself, the toothbrushes by themselves and the mouthwash by themselves but next to each other. If hair care items are to be stocked, put hair spray by itself, put shampoo and conditioner by themselves, and so forth. Do this for every department.

Also, when grouping the products by what type they are, try hard to put the same brand names next to each other. Having brand names helter skelter is not very organized and does not sell the product well.

If there are other employees to merchandise these areas, be sure to make sure they stock the shelves using this method. Assign appropriate people to merchandise these departments and keep them neat. If a person is not good at following this system--give them another task such as cashiering or other store activities to keep the system in good order. Nothing spoils this good order system like having people who don't do it appropriately stock and the people who are good at it are stuck cashiering.

Having people who specialize in these departments is a plus. Keep them doing the same department if they do it well. It also helps to train them in product knowledge or have people who know most of the products in the department in these areas.

Also keep in mind that hard workers will accomplish more and get the product out efficiently and the right order--don't just give a department to a friend or someone who just butters a person up. The only way this system is going to work properly is if people who can and want to work on it do it.


  • Merchandising well will promote more sales. If people can find it, they will buy it! Merchandising well is part of customer service. Merchandising well is just as important as quick check outs and friendly employees. At times, perhaps something will come in that can be placed in more than one department. Example: Baby HBA can go with the baby clothes and accessories or in the HBA department. Make a good decision where it will based on the situation. Keep clip strips, side panels, end caps, and j-hooks in theme with the department being merchandised. Nothing is more annoying than having to walk halfway across the store to find an item that belongs near a certain department but isn't.


  • Keep safety in mind when merchandising and stocking. Nothing turns off a shopper like having to dig through a disorganized mess. Having disorganized product shows the customer how little it is cared that they can shop the store, even if employees smile, say hi, and are courteous. If they can't find it, they won't like it.