We’re working on designing a whole new interior merchandising system for a national retailer this month. As I’m working on the design for their new fixtures I found myself revisiting a common question the retailers and brands have been asking since the dawn of modern retail design.
What is the best route to go when merchandising product on hooks – pegboard, stall wall or wire grid?
Over the course of twenty plus years of designing retail solutions, I don’t have an answer for you. Like most everything in life: it depends.
Here’s my take on these three ways to peg product in your store.
Usually made from masonite or hardboard, sometimes plastic, pegboard is likely one of my favorite ways to merchandising hanging product. The holes are usually 1″ x 1″ on center, and about 1/4″ in diameter. The board thickness is usually a 1/4″ as well.
Pegboard may be painted any color you want, or covered with a durable paper coating to make it look like wood grain, or your favorite pattern. You can even direct print right on the surface. Often time retailers will use perforated cover sheets of paper to color block in-line sections of gondolas. Target started this trend about ten years ago, and now it’s everywhere.
Pegboard is a great looking, great functioning solution that works great on endcaps, in-line and outposts. It’s not as common on power wings, but you certainly can use the material for that application. There are a ton of pegboard accessories available. The one inch centers can make merchandising a challenge, when trying to squeeze everything in.
Slat wall is typically viewed as “old fashioned” by marketers, retailers and brands. Which is a shame because it’s so versatile. The slats are usually spaced 3″ – 4″ apart, and offer unlimited spacing left to right, unlike pegboard.
It used to be that all you could get was slat that looked yellowed when it came out of the box. These days though you’re limited only by your imagination. Typically made from MDF, modern slat wall slats may be milled in a variety of patterns and spacing. Taking it a step further, you can get slat wall that looks like old barn boards, brick or faux distress metal.
Slat wall is heavy and cumbersome so you usually only see it fastened to real walls, and not on gondolas too often. But it’s a fantastic solution, if you can convince the marketing and retail peeps that it’s no longer old fashioned.
Go into any store and I bet you the power wings are all wire grid. It’s a ubiquitous way to peg these displays that’s worked for decades. Less common is wire grid merchandising in-line or on outposts, but it’s out there. We specified tons (literally) of wire grid for merchandising gift wrap and party goods when I worked corporate.
The grid wires are usually an inch on center. Wire grid is almost as good as slat wall for limitless merchandising left to right. You just have to look out for the vertical wires. They make hooks that are notched for the vertical wires, which helps in fine tuning merchandising.
The down side of wire is it’s not the most attractive thing in the world. You can powder coat it any color you want. One cool trick: put a backdrop of a contrasting color or an image behind the wire grid to snazz things up a bit.
There’s a good chance you’ll be dealing with legacy issues – not wanting to throw everything out and restart from scratch. So you may have two or more types of hanging merchandising systems to contend with. I don’t think it’s too big a deal if you mix and match. Often power wings will only come in wire grid, and pegboard is pretty standard for in-line gondolas. Merchandisers are good at keeping track of accessories throughout the store, so they’ll know where their stash of pegboard hooks is.
Regardless of which route you go, standard hooks and accessories are prevalent for each system. And there are common sizing standards for each system, so if you do have leftover accessories you can usually continue to find a spot to use them. You can even find some hooks that work in multiple systems, such as peg hooks that work on slat wall.
For me, I make my selection on a case by case basis. All three can be made to look incredible and all are functional.
I hope this little snippet overview gets you thinking about merchandising, and that it was helpful. Cheers!
Chris Weigand is president of Chris Weigand Design, LLC, a full service retail design consultancy based in northeast Ohio. Chris has been designing awesome hanging product merchandising, and other retail design solutions for two decades. He’s lent his expertise to many of the world’s largest retailers including Walmart, Target, CVS and Lowe’s. Contact him at (330) 858-8926 to discuss your retail design needs. He and his team would love to work with you.