Are Roadblocks Holding You Back from Driving Sales?

Insights from Joe Baer, CEO and Co-Founder of ZenGenius. Inc.


Throughout my career as a visual merchandiser, I’ve often encountered clients, managers, team members or associates that have an endless number of excuses, or create roadblocks that prevent them from bringing their vision to life.


A great visual merchandising program takes risks, experiments and tests new ideas to see what and how the ever-evolving customer responds to. Getting teams on the same page all at once can be challenging, especially when presenting new, unexpected, or risky ideas.


“We’ve tried that before…”

Ever hear this one? I hear it quite a bit and understand that often times it is true. It’s difficult to repeat something you’ve tried before and failed. Yet, it’s no different than getting back up when you fall down. While you might have tried it, there may be several reasons the initiative wasn’t successful. Perhaps the timing wasn’t right, things didn’t arrive on time, or the marketing didn’t connect with the in-store experience. Whatever the case, don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to try something again. Look at it from a new perspective. Try again and see what happens.


 “I’m not sure if we should move it.”

I’ve enjoyed long conversations and debates over re-arranging displays and store setups. Sometimes the conversations are so long that in the time spent debating, we could have moved something, tested it, and moved it back. The truth is that there are always plenty of ideas and opinions, but sometimes you just have to try it before you know. Trust your gut. Sometimes it will just feel right and you’ll know it. When it feels off, move it back and try something different. The important part is that at least you tried.


Do something. Experimentation will lead to innovation, discovery and success.


 “You’re blocking my camera.”  

Security and loss prevention are an important part of retail operations, but should not be a roadblock to creating a great in-store experience for the shopper. If you have a seasonal display or signage that blocks a security camera, be considerate enough to move it, but do not let it derail your plan or vision. Be creative and persevere. Loss prevention teams are in place to prevent theft rather than promote positive sales. At times they can be more of a “sales prevention” team than anything. But ultimately, we must learn to work together.  


“It’s too hard.”  

Visual merchandising is hard work. It’s physical, requires quick thinking and serious problem solving skills amongst other things. It also takes time. Often when I talk to people about ZenGenius, they say,


“Oh my gosh! Your job sounds like so much fun.”


Yes, it’s true. It is fun, and one of the best jobs in the world. However, it takes a significant amount of hard work, stamina and team work to make it happen. The physical labor comes with the territory, and it is hard. Often times you want to move or rearrange just one element or merchandise category, but it causes a domino effect. Stop, take a breath and don’t get overwhelmed. Keep working bit by bit, ultimately everything will fall into place. One of our ZenGenius philosophies is that there is the right reason, right time and right place for everything. While it may take a little elbow grease and mental stamina, enjoy the journey and the results.


“You can’t do that.”  

Well, sure you can. Sometimes limit ourselves by self-set or company-wide rules and parameters. Don’t get me wrong, these are great for keeping teams on the same page and engaged with short and long-term goals. Yet, on occasion you’ll encounter a situation or opportunity that requires rule bending, or merely evaluating them as guidelines instead. Allowing teams to be flexible, even if only for a short while, is okay and can lead to forward-thinking and impactful change. Every scenario is different and our decisions are often influenced by a variety of factors. Merchandise, fixtures, store size and opportunities can all be influences in the decision to break and bend rules.


If a little rule-bending leads to greater sales, you'll know you’re onto something. The key is getting the whole team on the same page again, albeit a new one.


 “We’ve never done it that way before!”

Much of the time new things are scary. After all, there wouldn’t be so many resources for coaching people through change if it wasn’t frightening. In visual merchandising, we help retailers push themselves to try new things, while mediating and resolving conflicts. While it can be intimidating, moving, adding and changing how something has always been can make an impact.

Often change is met with objections that limit your desire to try new things, and loose patience to fight your way to victory. Pick your battles. Wrong isn’t always different, so look to justify reason to try new things, experiment and learn. Give it a shot and then observe. Over a period of time see how shoppers, customers and associates respond. If it’s not working, or you continue to encounter opposition, there is no harm in stopping the test.


in conclusion

A bit of advice. Persevere through the roadblocks. Don’t let them stop you.  Think of them as a detour, an obstacle, or even a pothole on the road to success. Take a deep breath, gather your thoughts and keep driving those sales!




JULY 28-31, 2019


ASD happens two times per year in Las Vegas, Nevada. Each year, our trade show hosts 45,000 buyers from over 90 countries. From department stores to convenience stores, general stores to gift shops, from grocery store distributors to fashion boutiques, our show is an all-inclusive destination for any retailer to find unique merchandise that will set their store merchandise and provide great sales margins as well. What's more, attendees can also network with each other and meet with retail industry experts in order how to learn how to sell more products online, drive foot traffic in their stores and improve their general business operations.



Learn from, and be inspired by one of the industry's most passionate and entertaining speakers

ZenGenius, Inc. CEO and co-founder, Joe Baer leads some of today’s most engaging keynotes and interactive workshops. His charismatic personality combined with decades of industry experience create magical moments when presenting at your conference, national sales meeting, or special event. Joe’s passion for the global community, retail, design, visual merchandising and more are the perfect addition to you event agenda.

Interested in booking Joe for your next event?