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How to Display and Store Retail Merchandise

From boutiques to bakeries, retail businesses everywhere need a means of storing and displaying merchandise. This is often achieved by adding shelving to the store area to ensure products are both visible and easy to access. Some shelving is not well suited to retail use though, and some options are better for the storage room than the front-of-house. Knowing what makes retail shelving retail shelving is an important step to purchasing storage solutions for your store.

Types of Retail Displays

Amp up the style in your retail store with display fixtures! Retail displays are designed to showcase products in the best way possible and to attract the attention of customers. The construction and intended use for displays vary greatly, with some designed for specific merchandise and others designed for more generic use. Displays offer an eye-catching alternative to standard shelving units.

flat rectangular basket with handles

Baskets

Available in freestanding and countertop options, baskets are extremely versatile and great in any retail setting. They're best for small products, such as baked goods, fashion accessories, and housewares.

four tier merchandiser with bottles

Bottle Racks

Display bottled beer, soda, cider, or another beverage with a bottle rack. It's an easy and eye-catching display solution great for groceries and convenience stores. Keep in mind that it can be bulky and has low versatility. 

wooden box with cans of chips

Boxes

Easily contain small, loose items with a box. Though it doesn't organize merchandise, a box is great for prepackaged food products, fashion accessories, and even hardware.

clear plastic bin filled with colorful candy

Bulk Bins

Bulk bins hold small, loose pieces of food, hardware, or other items. They usually have a countertop design and require a scoop for retrieving product. 

three tier metal stand with four baskets

Display Stands

For visibility and access, display stands often include baskets or tiers. These stands are perfect for a variety of merchandise; however, they can be bulky, and some require a countertop or shelf.

tall stand with colorful bulk food dispensers

Gondolas

Small, loose, dry ingredients are often best displayed in a gondola. Though large and bulky, gondolas merchandise and dispense product. They're often used for candy, nuts, and coffee.

black plastic three tier riser

Risers

Risers are great for countertop use, as they raise products for better visibility. They're often used for prepackaged food products, baked goods, or produce. 

black wire stand with two basket frames

Stands

Stands are intended for use with a basket or other container. They lift product for better visibility and are great for a variety of food products.

clear plastic tray with cups for small items

Trays

Trays display small, loose items for visibility and accessibility. They may be intended for countertop use or are contoured to hold produce and prevent it from falling. 

large cardboard bin with fruit and vegetable graphics

Produce Bins

Often seen in produce aisles and farmers markets, produce bins are large and bulky, holding large quantities of watermelons, pineapples, and other fresh produce. 

Types of Retail Shelves / Shelving

Retail shelving, or retail store shelving, is intended for high-volume, constant-use applications. It’s attractive enough to create a neat display, but not too eye-catching so as to detract from the merchandise. It’s sturdy, reliable, and often adjustable to allow for inventory rotation over the years.

Using non-retail shelving in a retail environment can lead to units collapsing, which requires staff attention. Retail wire shelving features a commercial-grade construction, specifically for heavy-use applications. Its durable zinc-plated metal is encased with a black epoxy coating that provides longevity and protection in wet, humid environments. Plus, wire shelving is usually adjustable, so it’s easy to accommodate your ever-changing inventory.

Black epoxy wire shelving is available in a wide variety of sizes and configurations. Components are also available in shelving kits, making the selection process fast and easy.

black wire four shelf shelving unit

Stationary Shelving

Without casters, stationary shelving remains in place during use. 

  • 400 lb. - 2000 lb. Capacity
  • Great for cases of beer
  • Available in a range of sizes: 
    • 24" - 72" Long
    • 14" - 60" Wide

black wire four shelf shelving unit with casters

Mobile Shelving

With casters, mobile shelving is easy to move when rotating displays. 

  • 400 lb. - 2000 lb. Capacity
  • Great for produce or sale items
  • Available in a range of sizes:
    • 24" - 72" Long
    • 14" - 60" Wide

black wire four shelf shelving unit with angled shelves

Merchandising Racks

Usually with slanted or basket-style shelves, merchandising racks increase product visibility and access. 

  • 400 lb. Capacity
  • Great for grab-and-go snack items
  • Available in a range of sizes:
    • 24" - 60" Long
    • 18" or 24" Wide

Choosing Between Types of Retail Displays and Shelving

warehouse interior with shelves of inventory and U-boat truck

Location

Where is the shelving going?

  • Is the shelving for the store floor? The deli section of your market? Or is it for the check-out aisle? What about the storage room?

bright candy in a row of bulk food dispensers

Items for Sale

What are you selling?

  • How do you want to present it to the customer? Is your merchandise small and loose, or in large packages for bulk purchases?

three baskets hanging on a rack with fresh fruit

Store Layout

How much space do you have?

  • How much floor space is available? What's the purpose: to simply store or to merchandise?

Examples

As shown in example situations A and B, determining the location you need storage, what items you need to store, and the general layout of the available space should give you a good idea of what you need in a shelving or display unit.

Every situation is different though, so make sure to consider all of the solutions available before making a purchase.
man measuring a white brick wall with a tape measure

Situation A

 1. Location: Store floor

  • The solution should be attractive.
  • I need a solution that's durable and specific to the inventory.

2. Items for Sale: Specialty bottled beverages

  • The solution needs to accommodate heavy bottles.

3. Store Layout: Limited space to display product

  • The solution should provide vertical display space.
  • I need a solution that attracts attention.
     

Situation B

1. Location: Storage room

  • I need a solution that's both durable and versatile.
  • The solution is in the back-of-house, so I'm not concerned about aesthetics.

2. Items for Sale: Large boxes of canned food

  • I need a solution that accommodates large and heavy items.

3. Store Layout: 48" wide space

  • The solution can be freestanding.

Types of Stock Room Shelving

In the back-of-house, inventory is stored in bulk before it’s moved to the floor. Since it’s not visible to customers, stock room shelving doesn’t need to be attractive, but it needs to be durable and reliable.

Shelving Kits

Most businesses have limited space for newly received inventory. For that reason, stock rooms require space-efficient storage solutions. Unlike front-of-house shelving, this is often made of chrome, stainless steel, or green epoxy wire. All three materials are available in stationary and mobile configurations and are great for holding boxes, bins, cartons, jars, and other storage containers.
silver wire shelving unit with four shelves

Chrome Shelving

Chrome shelving is both strong and versatile. It's also often covered with a clear epoxy layer and most often found with a wire design.

  • For dry environments
  • Economy option
  • Great for most dry applications

silver shelving unit with four solid shelves and casters

Stainless Steel Shelving

Stainless steel delivers excellent versatility and durability. It's also corrosion-resistant and is available in both wire and solid shelf designs.

  • For dry or wet environments
  • Highest price point
  • Great for heavy-duty applications

green wire shelving unit with four shelves

Green Epoxy Shelving

With a green epoxy coating, this shelving is corrosion-resistant, strong, and versatile. It's usually only found in a wire design.

  • For dry or wet environments
  • Economy option for corrosion-resistance
  • Great for most storage applications

Dunnage Shelving / Racks

To handle large crates of produce, heavy jugs of water, or bulky boxes of bagged rice, dunnage storage is often the best option. Available in shelving units or racks, dunnage is specially designed to feature high weight capacities and heavy-duty constructions. Like traditional shelving units, dunnage fixtures are available in either stationary or mobile configurations.
kegs and boxes stored on a shelving unit with three shelves

Dunnage Shelving

Dunnage shelving provides several high-capacity shelves in the footprint of one.

  • Space-efficient with multiple shelves
  • 715 lb. - 3200 lb. Capacity
  • Commonly made of aluminum, green epoxy wire, or chrome

flour and canned vegetables stored on green wire shelf

Dunnage Racks

Dunnage racks feature one surface for storage and may fit under existing storage units.

  • Greater product clearance than shelves
  • 250 lb. - 4000 lb. Capacity
  • Commonly made of aluminum, metal wire, plastic, or stainless steel

Shelving / Display Accessories

It's crucial to display items in such a way that they won't roll off of a shelf or stand. Dropped produce, for instance, can result in unattractive bruising. It can also cause sanitation issues and a mess on the store floor!

From local produce and freshly-baked muffins to boxes of canned food and cleaning supplies, merchandise needs more than just a place to rest, though. In retail settings, labeling and pricing product is critical. If an item isn't properly labeled, it requires more work on the customer's part to determine the price, which can prevent sales and affect overall profit.
long clear produce guard

Produce Guards

Other accessories, like produce guards, help prevent products from falling off of shelves. Produce guards are even available in a range of sizes to fit your tables or shelves.

 

 

black plastic octagonal riser divider

Riser Dividers & Liners

To keep produce bins organized, riser dividers are often paired with riser liners; the dividers split the merchandising space to organize a variety of products, and the easy-to-clean liners help protect the bin.

 

black dunnage rack connector

Connectors

Finally, for the stock room, use connectors to link two dunnage racks together, and create one, extra-long, and secure surface for storing heavy, bulky inventory. 

 

How to Label Merchandise

black deli spear tags with chalkmarker

Clips & Deli Spear Tags

Some merchandising units include graphics to attract attention, while clips and deli spear tags serve the same purpose for other displays. These all identify products, though graphics are often designed more to be eye-catching. Clips and tags are often used for direct identification and pricing. Clips require separate labels.

gray shelving label holder on wire shelf

Shelving Label Holders

For retail settings, shelving label holders are especially convenient, as they enable you to easily label and price products directly on the shelf. These holders range in size, from 3" to 55", to give you the perfect length for your space. Choose between gray and clear colors to create the perfect presentation.

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