Canadian Pizza Magazine

Making Dough with Diane: Learn 15 quick and easy display and merchandising strategies

By Diane Chiasson   

Features Business and Operations Marketing

Photo: voloshin311 / Adobe Stock

You all know that first impressions matter. When it comes to retail, they may mean the difference between a new customer and a lost sale. 

Visual merchandising encompasses your storefront and product displays, in-store signage, the variety of products available for sale in your pizzeria and the display of those products in a way that attracts and engages customers and motivates them to buy.

To determine where your pizzeria may miss out on opportunities to sell, consider what your customers see when they enter your shop. Shoppers stay to their right-hand side when they enter a store and walk along the perimeter to do much of their buying.

From crusty pizza to delectable mozzarella sticks, battered onion rings or sandwiches, bring your fresh products up front to the customer and make sure these products are of the highest quality, well presented and delivered with excellent customer service. Here are 15 quick and easy pizzeria display and merchandising strategies.


1. Use aroma to attract
All pizzerias rely on attracting passing customers. If they can smell a delicious aroma coming from your pizzeria, they will instantly step inside your shop. An inviting aroma is a great pizzeria in-store sales driver! Bake small batches of goods throughout the day to attract customers with aroma. If you can, use a fan to blow the pizzeria smells out onto the street to entice passersby. 

2. Create displays that sell
It’s critical that your merchandising displays be visually appealing. The first rule for displaying baked food items is to treat every item carefully. Do not pile, stack or cram your products into a shelf. Not only is this visually unappealing, but you are most likely damaging your products as well. Make sure you routinely refresh your product displays: I suggest updating at least once a month.

3. Offer smaller items
Bake smaller pizzas, offer pizza-by-the-slice, make some mini pizza muffin cups and pizza rolls for the kids, prepare mini zucchini pizzas (zucchini pizzettes), make fun turning sausage, pepperoni, veggies and pizza dough into cute kabobs, sell stuffed pizza bites or half a sandwich, or offer half-cakes or pies to entice curious customers to try a product they might not want to spend money on for an entire huge pizza or cake. 

4. Bake specialty apps
Think of the best appetizers and side dishes you can sell with your pizzas. What about bruschetta, garlic bread, cheesy bread, mozzarella sticks, grilled flatbread, homemade pesto, meatballs, buffalo wings, hot wings, caesar salad, honey barbecue wings, spicy onion rings, garlic fries, zucchini fries, jalapeno poppers, fried calamari, assorted dips, and using your pizza dough to make yummy garlic knots? Use proper signage to indicate what makes these appetizers and sides so special, such as the ingredients you use or the unique way you made them.

5. Use rustic décor
Use traditional baking equipment such as flour bags and scoops, wooden breadboards and shelves, wicker baskets and Italian pottery to add authenticity to your displays.

6. Turn window shoppers into customers
Pay close attention to the location of your products. Consumers tend to browse shelves at the eye level. They also focus more on things right before them, rather than looking at the sides or the back of a display. 

7. Show off your pizzas
Pizzas are best sold at or near the cash register, on the counter, inside a display case or at the take-out pickup point. Surprise your customers by using a combination of bright and vibrant signage. Your shop’s design and display aren’t meant to stay the same. Consider refreshing your merchandising, displays, layout and signage every time you have new products or at least monthly.

8. Put snacks, desserts near cash registers
If you sell desserts, another great place to display them is by placing them wherever customers wait to be served. As they wait, they look around. And who can resist buying a tempting dessert? You can also position your tiramisu cakes, cheesecakes, pies, butter tarts, cookies, loaves of bread or pies on a tiered table at your store’s entrance. Next to your table, offer your customers free samples of fresh hot bread from the oven with various  spreads you sell.

9. Pair your products
One way to improve your in-store experience is to use your displays to cross-sell certain products. Cross-merchandising is a great way to increase your sales. If you use display cases, highlight and dress up your products by pairing them with fresh vegetables, herbs, flowers or even a bottle of wine or champagne. All those props help to convey the feeling of freshness.

10. Offer free samples
Offer free samples! I cannot stress enough how beneficial sampling can be for pizzerias. Giving your customers a chance to taste your products and opportunities to ask questions is the best way to realize a sale. Sampling also allows your staff to educate your customers. It is probably the best merchandising tool a pizza shop has available. 

11. Use great POP materials
Use colourful point-of-purchase materials such as posters, brochures, pamphlets, shelf talkers, menu boards, floor graphics and signs, sidewalk signs, tabletop displays, window clings, QR codes, bags and recipe ideas. Don’t forget to add interesting and colourful signage inside and outside your shop, but don’t overdo it.

12. Sell merchandise
Everyone loves merchandise, so target impulse buyers. Offer comfy sweatshirts, t-shirts and hats. Sell in-store or online aprons with your pizzeria’s logo. Anything sold will serve as a walking advertisement for your business. Have you thought of selling your pizza frozen? 

13. Drive impulse and repeat sales
Drive impulse and repeat sales by training your staff in effective merchandising such as seasonal displays, appealing product presentations, in-store promotions, sampling and product bundling.

14. Elevate your food visuals
Mouthwatering images of pizza with gooey melted cheese and a perfectly baked crust will arouse the appetite of customers. Post images on your Facebook page, and use excellent quality images and videos on Instagram and TikTok. Focus on building your accounts to reflect your pizzeria and tell your brand story. Encourage your customers to leave reviews on Yelp, Google and your Facebook page. 

15. Train and educate your staff
Make training fun for your staff and make sure they also taste your food products so they can honestly and accurately inform customers. Make sure your staff members are well-trained and knowledgable about your pizzeria’s products, including the basic nutritional information and ingredients.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality, and retail operators increase sales for over 35 years by providing innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns. Contact her at 416-926-1338, send her an email at or visit

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