At Merchandising Frontiers, a Winterset, Iowa-based company that does work for T-Mobile and Sara Lee coffee, the goal is much the same: to provide maximum visual merchandising capability. “I think that the merchandise should stand out more than the actual fixture,” says co-owner Janet Mayer. “The goal is to sell product and create revenue.”

Merchandising Frontiers recently devised a new concept it calls the “small format structure.” Yet there’s nothing small about it.

“It’s a large outdoor kiosk that is a cross between a self-contained building and a specialty retail kiosk,” says Mayer. “The structure is shipped completely finished, except for the merchandise, and placed on the retail center’s parking lot.” The unit is even equipped with a full HVAC system. “They become instant stores on existing areas that are typically underutilized by the developer or owner and provide retailers with a quick expansion alternative.” The new structure has been the company’s Number one kiosk in terms of sales volume over the last year.

Merchandising Frontiers’ new concept is just one example of today’s trend toward bigger and better. Programs are getting bigger, in terms of number of units, as are the dimensions of the units themselves. They are outfitted with significantly more equipment in order to accommodate all of the electronics needed to transact business; most even have a built-in cash wrap. With bigger units also comes more merchandise. Yet it can be tricky to focus on enhancing the retailer’s merchantability without adding to the visual clutter of the mall itself.