From the September 2005 issue of Entrepreneur

With low-rise pants all the rage, retailers are opting for curvier mannequins, which better show off the trendy trousers. David Denniston, director of environmental design at Fitch, a retail merchandising consulting firm in Columbus, Ohio, weighs in on four other store trends.

1. Technology integration: "We'll see miniature monitors in fixtures and more affordable screen technology to bring your eye to the merchandise, or touchscreen kiosks that can help answer questions about products," Denniston predicts.

2. Solution-oriented merchandising: Products that are grouped together to tell a story usually sell better, he says. For instance, gift shops may showcase seasonal offerings along with wrapping paper, cards and even shipping options for the customer's convenience.

3. Colors and graphics: Stores must be constantly changing their looks, says Denniston. Printing innovations allow retailers to create large-format digital prints on interesting surfaces like wood and mesh, offering affordable ways to make a dramatic impact.

4. Fewer SKUs: Forget stocking up on every product--Denniston says retailers can benefit from scaling down. "It's not just about price, it's about value," he says. "Saying, 'These are the eight best of a certain thing' will help your buying process and make things easier for your customers."


Gwen Moran is a writer and consultant specializing in marketing.