Cash Sales Merchandising

Showcasing Your Wares

Sponsored by: Transcend

As threats to Medicare funding have ramped up, retail sales have grown to become a pivotal way for providers to regain lost revenue. But, while retail sales represent an opportunity, they also represent a set of new lessons to learn. As providers dive into cash sales opportunities, they are realizing that the waters aren’t necessarily as shallow as they initially thought.

Now, HME staff must learn new ways to work with patients to determine their retail needs in more of a sales fashion, while still maintaining a collaborative approach. Similarly, they are learning how to foster the sorts of customer services skills that will ensure long-term client relationships. HME businesses are also increasing their retail marketing efforts so that they better understand their patient’s and local market’s retail HME needs, and then reaching out to those constituents with not only the right product, but at the right prices and using the most effective messages. Moreover, they are learning how to integrate their retail operations with their funded operations, so that inventory, patient records and other “back office” systems mesh with one another.

And one of the key lessons providers are learning is merchandising. In the mainstream retail world, merchandising is a unique skill set that at the highest levels is its own job title. Top merchandisers possess abilities that fall somewhere between science and art in terms of increasing sales revenues.

What Is Merchandising?

Chances are you have heard of merchandising in the context of how products are arranged within a store, or how a storeroom looks, but merchandising encompasses more than simple arrangement or aesthetics. If anything merchandising represents some considerable strategic thinking.

Effective merchandising attracts and invites a shopper to enter the store, then it convinces them to interact with it and truly go shopping by moving through the retailer’s wares to investigate what is available. Signage, displays, arrangement and shelving all contribute to the merchandising process.


A key element to any successful merchandising strategy is displaying the product. Retail clients need to see how the product looks, how it works and want to be able to interact with it so that they can see how the product will benefit them. So, products must not only be shelved in an organized way, but they must be “presented” to customers. The idea is to come up with ways to engage the patient. A great way to do this from an HME perspective is to display items in such a way that they look like a room from any home. This gets the patients and their families and caregivers thinking about how that DME — and the related cash products — would look in their homes.

Also point-of-purchase displays are an important element in merchandising. Not only can they help the retailer add an “impulse buy” to a customers purchases for that transaction, but they can also educate the patient on the product.


Signage is an important tool in merchandising. When a new or even existing customer comes into your store, there is no possible way for them to be familiar with your inventory. Signage is a powerful tool to attract buyers to new offerings, direct them to things they are looking for, and perhaps get them to consider goods they might not have had on their shopping list. They might have come in for compression garments, but they might leave with a couple grab bars thanks to some attractive signage.

It is important to keep your signage fresh and news. In the same ways companies constantly change out their advertising on TV, in print and on the web, providers need to change up their in-store signage to keep attracting patients to products. Fresh imagery and message are key, and a great way to do that is through seasonal changes. You can not only use seasons and special dates to conduct marketing and special offers, but also use them to create a fresh “feel” to the store through new signage.

Creating the Right Mix

Being that providers are trading in both funded and retail products, they must consider carefully how to create a good mix between their funded products and their retail products. It’s very important to have products placed near complementary items. This is why cereal is located near milk in grocery stores. So, for providers, sheets and mattress covers are ideally placed with beds and mattresses, for example.

Moreover, merchandising plans for retail HME not only must incorporate pairing retail and funding products for display in the showroom, but also need to keep things fresh. This speaks to creating new shopping “experiences” for longtime customers. Rearranging what is in the store every three or four months is a great way to get patients coming back, and perhaps buying more.

Points to take away:

  • Merchandising is a key element in successful HME retail sales efforts.
  • It represents offering the right products, in the right arrangement, and presented ways that get customers to explore and buy.
  • Signage and displays are critical in this. They help the patient not only navigate the store, but attract them to specific products and consider purchasing them.
  • Mixing retail and funded products is critical.
  • Signage, displays and showroom arrangement should be changed on a regular basis to keep customer interest fresh.

Learn More:

Call your vendors. Many manufacturers in the HME space not only offer marketing tools for reaching out to referral partners and patients, but also offer a wide rage of merchandising tools such as in-store displays, brochures and signage that are perfect for retail sales efforts.

This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of HME Business.

HME Business Podcast