Business Glossary

What is Merchandise?

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, employment, tax or professional advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.

Definition of merchandise

Merchandise is an incredibly broad term in business. It can refer to any consumer goods that are bought or sold in a transaction between a business and its customer. Merchandise may make its way through numerous links in the supply chain throughout its life cycle including manufacturers, distributors, warehouses and retailers before making its way to the consumer.

Merchandise also has a more specific meaning in the field of branding. In building a brand and a consumer base, companies may give away branded products to prospective consumers. These products are often referred to as merchandise or branded merchandise although they are often given away rather than sold. Alternatively, branded products may be sold to consumers who already have a pre-existing attachment to an existing intellectual property such as a band, fictional character or entertainment franchise.

Merchandising explained

Merchandising has a number of meanings in the business world but broadly speaking it refers to the marketing and sale of consumer products.

In brick-and-mortar retail, merchandising is the practice of preparing goods for sale, making them as accessible and appealing to the prospective consumer as possible. This includes everything from promotional materials and displays to the appearance of the goods themselves. As well as increasing consumer appeal, merchandising helps to ensure that the presentation of products is in line with government marketing standards.

However, that does not mean that merchandising is solely the domain of physical retail. The digital world has helped to reshape the definition of merchandising. Discounted or competitive pricing, promotional discount codes sent as part of an email marketing campaign, or delivering targeted ads are all forms of merchandising in this digital context.

Frequently asked questions about merchandise

What is omnichannel merchandising?

Omnichannel merchandising means creating a shopping experience for the consumer that is consistent across multiple channels. A customer should experience the same quality of transaction whether they buy from your physical store, through your website or through a third party.

What is promotional merchandise?

Promotional merchandise or promotional products refers to items that are sold or given away to consumers for the purpose of growing awareness and building value in the company’s brand. Promotional merchandise is usually designed to be cost-effective to make or buy, yet bring value to the recipient. Therefore, it encompasses a broad range of items from mugs and t-shirts to t-shirts or promotional bags.

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