What’s the difference between marketing, merchandising and selling?

Although marketing, merchandising and selling are closely related, there are distinct differences among them. Here are some of the differences and how they can apply to your business.

In its basic form, marketing is the process employed to build brand awareness and customer loyalty. The methods employed are varied, but essential to insuring the longevity of any given business. The modern day business environment is hyper-competitive and it is essential for any business, small or large, to find methods that separate it and/or its product from the pack, increase customer interest and build customer loyalty.

Merchandising is the process of displaying product in such a way to increase interest and ultimately, sales. This is most evident in retail establishments, and is very often tied to special situations such as holidays or historical events. Coupons, shelf location, and free standing displays are just a few of the tools available to the merchandiser. Merchandising isn’t exclusive to brick and mortar locations either. On line displays are also used for merchandising. Take, for instance, an on line ad for an e-book or a downloadable software product that almost universally provides a graphic of a physical book or a pile of DVDs even though there is no physical product being offered. That is pure merchandising.

Selling is the final result achieved more efficiently if the other two functions are successful; the act of closing the deal and collecting the money! On-the-shelf products rely heavily on the first two functions in order to make the sale, whereas other products or intangibles rely heavily on face to face contact with a live or virtual salesman or sales associate.

Any business planning to be successful, must build its presence on all three legs presented here. The back office foundation of any business is also important, but without customers, the back office becomes unnecessary.

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