How Outsourcing Merchandising Can Save Time and Money

Posted in | | By Samuel Boult

How Outsourcing Merchandising Can Save Time and Money

During these difficult and uncertain times, relying on the services of an external partner can have many benefits for a retail business.  Over the course of this pandemic, we have witnessed several new partnerships emerge whose mutual aim is to deliver the optimum shopping experience.  For example, McDonalds and UberEATS have teamed up so that food can be delivered to the safety of their customers’ homes, whereas John Lewis and The Co-operative Food have joined forces, the former making use of the latter’s conveniently located stores to expand their Click & Collect offering.

This article aims to highlight how the services of an external specialist company can benefit a retailer of any size.  Whether you are a retail titan with stores on every high street, or a small chain of convenience stores serving the local communities, you’ll be able to glean value from outside specialists.


Ideal for companies looking to cut costs

The financial implications of the pandemic are worrying, but outsourcing is especially popular during a recession because third parties can provide retail merchandising services at a cheaper price due to economies of scale, and it is a way for retailers to avoid recruitment costs.  Retailers also receive a broader coverage quicker because of the increased flexibility of merchandisers.  Also, due to the flexibility of merchandisers, and the fact that they are situated across the country, outside companies can scale up their resource capacity to meet a retailer’s requirements regardless of their location.

For some companies, it is impractical to create and support an in-house merchandising department.  By outsourcing, you can hand over the entire responsibility of merchandising to a company that delivers a complete retail support solution.  This frees up time and resources, which will allow you to focus on other aspects of your business, and can lead to increased growth and productivity. 

Outsourcing also saves retailers valuable time which would otherwise be spent on hiring, training, and managing their merchandisers.  This is especially the case for larger companies who have vast estates spread across the country, who would have to recruit and train a considerable amount of people.


"Do what you do best and outsource the rest"

- Peter Drucker (Management Consultant, Educator, & Author)



Tapping into outside experience will give you a fresh perspective

The retail industry is vast and complex.  There are many elements that retailers must be aware of, including merchandising, inventory control, micro and macro space planning, stock replenishment, and category management.    Being an expert in all of these areas is difficult and this is where hiring a company with specialist skills and experience can really help you.  They can analyse your operation from a fresh, unbiased point of view and provide you with insight and recommendations that you would otherwise not have identified. 

When shopping restrictions are lifted and non-essential stores are allowed to reopen, retailers will hope that normality resumes again.  There will be a danger that some retailers will automatically go back to doing things exactly how they did before the pandemic, but this is unlikely to work in the future.  The retail landscape and consumer habits have changed dramatically.  Shoppers now want, and expect, an omnichannel shopping experience with more choice and quick delivery.  Retailers will have to work very hard to meet these needs, or else risk being left behind as a footnote of retail history.

Shoppers will still want physical spaces on the high streets and in retail parks to browse and to talk to a retail expert, but they may not necessarily want to buy the item there and then.  Instead, having the option to order a product in-store for home delivery may be their ideal solution.  Therefore, retail stores of the future may not have to hold much stock; instead, they could become experience centres where shoppers can explore products and talk to staff.  Professional merchandising and retail support companies understand the ways in which retail is going to work in the future, and they have the knowledge and skills to transform stores into retail spaces that will meet the needs of consumers.  An external company makes it their business to keep up to date with all the latest advancements in the industry, so that you don’t have to.


Access to a company whose core business is merchandising

By approaching an outside company that has the relevant experience and expertise, you’ll gain access to specific retail knowledge that you wouldn’t otherwise have.  Outside companies will be able to offer you an objective opinion on how to improve your store, and you can make use of their up-to-date and cutting-edge professional services.  This will allow you to focus on what is core to your business.

There are many benefits to bringing in a specialist company to support, or even run, your retail project.  However, it is important that you find a reputable company that shares your passion for your brand, and who will go above and beyond to ensure that your customers receive the very best shopping experience.  A company that doesn’t share your values could end up providing a sub-par service which could do more harm than good by damaging your brand and alienating customers.  Conduct research on the companies you’re interested in before taking the plunge.  Finding the perfect company to support your business can have some amazing implications for your brand, and can help future-proof your store so that it’s ready for what comes next.


RMS are a leading merchandising company with over 15 years’ experience of working with major retail brands.  Find out how we can help you improve your customer experience and increase sales.