Visual merchandising is the art and science of displaying products in a way it appeals both strategically and aesthetically. It needs an artistic eye for presentation to create a shopping experience that’s pleasant for customers, while also increasing conversion rates with a combination of analytical knowledge.

While purchasing online, it’s all visuals on the screen and, difficult to find unique merchandise. In the store, the customers get influenced by the store layout and clear required signage. The signage helps the customers to reach out to specific sections, feel the products, try on them and, get clear with all queries related to product from the nearest sales associate. 

Visual merchandising doesn’t only help a store attract customers, it also helps increase sales and gives customers a good reason to come back again. The easiest way to have exciting displays that help to sell the products is to hire a professional visual merchandiser to come in and change your window and showcase displays once every month.

Not every practice can afford the luxury of professional help in the areas of visual merchandising. You may be lucky enough to have someone from your staff with an artistic view who has a natural way of putting up displays. Even if you don’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t have good-looking displays. 

Visual merchandising, especially displays are one of the most creative and responsible areas of Sales & Promotion. At times it can be very frustrating, most difficult, and laborious work. It’s rewarding for the visual merchandiser to see all of the product in a display sell out completely or to observe the consumer enjoying the presentation.

You must know your customers and products inside and out. What are your customer’s likes and dislikes? What’s their general age? Are you targeting families/ Young professionals/ Teens? When are they most likely to buy? You also need to understand the most appealing aspects of a certain product and how best to highlight them. Visual merchandising doesn’t only help a store attract customers, it also helps increase sales and gives customers a good reason to come back again.

There are some basics we have been following for ages in Retail:

  1. Select Color First: Although reaction to color is a personal, individual, private experience that is influenced by culture, regional and global locations, and environmental background, the consumer is instinctively impacted by colors with which they are confronted every day in their environment. 

For example: Blue reminds the adult consumer of the ocean or water and the sky. It is a universal color that is calming and restful. 

2. Select Merchandise Thoughtfully: When building the actual display, the first step the visual merchandiser takes is that of analyzing and selecting the merchandise to be displayed. It is most important that visual merchandiser recognize that the merchandise to be displayed is the focus of the artistic and that all other elements needed to build the display play a supporting role to the merchandise itself.

3. Less is More: Keeping your displays simple & uncluttered helps customers to browse. Leaving space between two merchandise gives a customer a sense of connectivity. The most common mistake we usually do is trying to show too much at the same time. 

4. Customize Display Windows: The first thing that attracts people is your store’s display window and it can be a determining factor for the customer whether to go inside the store or not. Retail store windows that are powerfully designed and well-executed becomes one of the most important visuals that will represent your store. It’s the display windows that will capture the attention and invite the passersby inside the Store. Try to create an outstanding visual representation of colors, outfits, styling as well as individual items of clothing which will stop people in their tracks and make them admire the view. Once you get the display windows right, you can focus on the interior.

5. Store Layout: The most important aspect of visual merchandising is your store layout and the way customers can navigate through it. We must always try to use most of the space to display the merchandise while leaving enough room for customers to breathe and walk around the store. Moreover, try to display the most valuable goods at the entrance focus area and in the sorted categories to encourage impulse purchases. Use color combos to lure attention, as well as pyramid technique and balance to display the items neatly and in an organized manner. Think of adding props related to displays with some innovative and unique ideas. Showcase some discounted offers, promotional displays and, on-going trends at the entrance to invite more customers inside the store. It’s important to remember that customers need to see amazing combinations of merchandise and colors, styling and, good offers running while browsing through your store.

6. Odd rather than Even: An odd number of elements is always more attractive to the eye than an even number because an asymmetrical arrangement is slightly off balance and keeps the eye moving around to look at each frame which provides a built-in visual dynamic. On the other hand, an asymmetrical perfectly balanced arrangement stops the eye in its tracks, which turns out to be dull.

7. Maintain Good Composition: If you place one frame at the top of the display and let all the other elements “step down” from that point, you’ll have a very effective design as it gets into the composition of “Pyramid Form”. It’s that top focal point that attracts attention and makes the display look interesting at this principle always works. This Pyramid formation also helps in styling the most exclusive merchandise on the center mannequin to get more attention, trendy and, turn into a fast-selling product. When creating the design of each display, the composition or the use of the art elements (i.e., color, texture, proportion, line, and shape) and design principles (i.e., composition, balance, rhythm, repetition, and dominance) along with the theme, props, attention, attraction and, signage should be planned in detail to get Best compositions and sales. 

8. Evaluate the Effectiveness of Presentations: Maintaining good composition in an artistic way of creating unity and harmony in the display. To communicate a well-planned message and direct the consumer’s eye to all the elements of the display. The visual merchandiser must carefully plan the type of balance and the dominant item or focal point of the display, along with the mechanisms for creating rhythm. Does the type of balance support the theme and merchandise classifications in the display? Is the focal point evident? Are there items, such as props and attention-getting devices, which direct the viewer’s eye from the dominant area to all other areas of the presentation? Are there odd numbers of items utilized to create interest and provide rhythm in the composition? Are all components in proportion to the whole as well as to each other component in the display? 

Considering the responsibility that comes with running stores and keeping your customers happy, it’s not surprising. It’s easy to overlook a few merchandising basics. 

However, overlooking common merchandising basics poses a problem you need to address and if you don’t face up to them, you’ll soon find them costing your retail business a small or large fortune.

  • Your product spacing on the shelf is incorrect: 

When a customer walks into your store, they come in with an expectation that they’ll find what they’re looking for on their shopping list. More than that, your customers will arrive wanting a shopping experience that is effortless, pleasant, and as quick as possible. That means the last thing they’d want is to show up and your shelves are so overcrowded with products that they struggle to find what they are looking for. 

You should space your products evenly across the width and depth of your shelves with enough space in between the products for your customers to shop with ease. There should be a two-finger spacing between the top of a product and the shelf above.      

  • Your products aren’t correctly positioned in their allotted space: 

One of the reasons it happens is because of poor planogram implementation. After all, you can sign off a planogram and send it to a store with specific instructions on how to implement it. If not executed correctly, you can’t expect the products to get the right space.

Another reason it happens is that you don’t use retail data to make any of your decisions. Let’s take a simple example such as accidentally giving the wrong product an extra facing. As a result, you inadvertently take away a facing for a product that happens to contribute 20% of overall sales in that category.

  • The merchandising technique doesn’t suit your products or category: 

Every inch of your store costs you money. That’s why you can’t afford to settle for unappealing or ineffective in-store displays. More importantly, you shouldn’t think that you can pick any merchandising technique to display a product and believe it’ll work as it won’t.

Let’s take the vertical merchandising technique as an example. In most cases, it’s good to use this technique to market off multiple items at eye-level. For a category such as coffee, where your tins are usually the same size, it would work well. 

  • Your best-selling products are either hard to find or can’t be reached: 

Into a retail context, it takes a customer 20 minutes to find their preferred brand which also happens to be a firm customer favorite. Many of your customers may not even bother searching for these products. If they haven’t found them after a certain time, they’ll either walk out or, they’ll choose a different product in its place.

Choosing an alternative product isn’t necessarily a good thing. That’s especially true if the product they choose costs less so you’ll lose money. From another angle, you could argue that it’s better than losing a sale altogether. That said, to avoid this frustration, your best-selling products should be easy to reach and find. That includes displaying them front and center and positioning them correctly on your shelf, which means placing them either at eye-level or lower.

  • You haven’t created hotspots: 

An in-store hotspot plays an important role in inviting your customers to buy your products. More specifically, you can use them to promote and bring attention to a specific category in your store.

For example – if it’s summer and you sell swimming pool accessories, you could look at creating a highly visible area in your store to market these products. By highlighting these products, you’re bringing attention to the products and encouraging your customers to buy them.

An ideal area for a hotspot includes near the entrance of your store, on your gondola ends and, alongside till points. As for how many hotspots you should have in your store, it depends on the size of your stores. For a larger store, you could have a hotspot at the end of every gondola end. On the other hand, for a small store, you might be better off placing it at the entrance or you are till points.

  • You don’t cut your sales & profit lines: 

Your Sales & Profit lines are space wasters because they consume space in your department without returning any value, by value, we mean sales and profit. As a result, you’ll sit with a few hundred, if not thousands, of units of unwanted stock that takes up valuable shelf space. More importantly, it prevents you from stocking your shelves with new or faster-selling products.

When analyzing your current range, and deciding which products to delist, you need to also look at your retail data. In doing so, you determine the correct assortment to list and ensure your stores don’t end up with dead stock soon.

“Good visual merchandising is a mix of art, inspiration, and science. While great visuals can sell lousy products, poor visuals can do nothing for great merchandise.”

– Paco Underhill, Why We Buy – Book.


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