While most observers equate the term "merchandising" to the toy and T-shirt tie-ins to blockbuster summer movies, the concept of merchandising is much broader. Merchandising techniques help develop a company's revenue streams and increase its exposure to the public. From product placement to price discounts, merchandising methods are among the most powerful marketing tools available to businesses.

Free Samples

Delivering free samples is a highly effective merchandising method. It allows users to try out the product before they purchase. Free food samples in grocery store aisles often lure buyers into purchasing the full-sized product. Freeware and shareware software demonstrate some of a product's functionality, enticing users to purchase the full versions. Many early video games, such as "Doom" and "Wolfenstein 3D," allowed players to try out early levels before purchasing the full game.

Logo Items

Items decorated with a colorful logo are small but memorable ways for a company to make an impression on potential customers. Many firms offer T-shirts, pens and key chains emblazoned with the company logo as a major facet of their branding strategy. These merchandising efforts give consumers a concrete reminder of the firm's identity every time they use the item. The items are often inexpensive, especially when purchased in bulk, and can make a more memorable impression than business cards or brochures.


The cross-merchandising method works when complementary items are placed in close proximity to one another. Retail outlets employ cross-merchandising: battery packs are placed next to small electronic items; tomato sauces sit on shelves near pasta boxes; memory cards hang on pegs near digital cameras. Cross-merchandising can be just as effective in an online store. When a user searches for an item at an online retail site, the site also can display complementary items in the search results.

Limited-Time Offers

Customers love getting a deal. When they realize the deal has a time limit, they will do what they can to take advantage of that deal within that time window. Sites such as Groupon and Daily Deals offer small business owners the opportunity to present limited-time offers to both new and existing customers. These offers bring in people who want to capitalize on the deal and, after experiencing what the company has to offer, may become repeat customers.

Impulse Goods

Impulse merchandising techniques take advantage of idle time in line. The candy, magazines, drinks and random assortment of goods at the checkout line are all impulse buys. The shopper did not enter the store with the intent to purchase but they have the impulse while waiting in checkout lanes.