Looking at today’s situation – Covid19, a global pandemic. There is a need to know the future of visual merchandiser & Retail.

In this year, since Lockdown many helpless situations were arising in Retail & many other economic sectors like salary cut-offs, recession, loss of jobs, family expenses & major health issues. These sectors got affected drastically and still suffering to get back to normal. 

The global pandemic – COVID-19, has an impact on consumer’s lives. As stay-at-home orders and country-wide lockdowns started, consumer behavior continues to be driven by new personal circumstances, such as changes in not so much as income, leisure time, and priorities. They are relying only on e-commerce websites and brand websites for their purchases.

As countries have come under quarantine orders and consumers around the world have started to avoid human contact, retailers are finding it difficult to adapt. They have recognized that the global response to the COVID-19 virus will have a major impact on their business. They are coming across the day to day changes as they have to get in the race of being responsive towards business.

COVID 19 has transformed our lives. By pushing us indoors, the health crisis has negatively impacted businesses with a global economic slowdown. With shops being closed until we get through the pandemic, sales and manufacturing have a drop-down to an all-time low. In the first two months of lockdown, the organized retail sector has borne losses up to ₹90,000 crores. While revenues have been nil and expenses like EMI, rent, staff salaries, etc. are add-ons.

Health concerns have forced people to live differently, think differently, and in many ways buy differently. Consumers are looking at products and brands through a new lens. The factors that influence brand decisions are also changing as “Buy Local” or we can also say “Vocal for Local”.

In the fashion category, retail companies and brand stores will see moderate customer footfall. There will be more focus on online sales which is already evident from the current situation. Online purchase adaptation will continue the flow beyond the pandemic as well.

These are challenging time and retailers need to take immediate actions to get through this unpredicted situation:

· Plan and execute flexible model to follow

· Shift towards Crisis Management

· Manage the supply chains

· Deal with consumer confidence 

· Cope up with staff shortages

· Fluctuations & drop in demand

· Protecting people

· Plan for the long term.

As the malls and stores got permission to re-open. It was very difficult for managers to make strategies or get the VM done to convert each customer entering the store into a day target amount. 

Many changes came into action to help us to get stability back in the market. One majorly required change is in VM displays & creativity. There was a thought given to “Future of Visual Merchandising” in this New Normal Era, where many brands found back a track to success.

Fundamentally, the Retail environment has changed a lot rather than VM aspects. The VM is an on-going process where it is always going to be a major aspect in Retail, to convert a customer & close to selling.

There are some points we can consider to focus on Visual Merchandising of the Store:

VM needs a Boost:

  • Over the years, every VM display has been changed. 
  • There was a pressure to deliver the top and bottom performing product details from all the working people in the store. 
  • A push is required to get away with the fast-selling and slow-selling products ending up perform well. 
  • The challenge here is to find a new purpose and dignity that defines VM Excellence.

Know who your Customer are: 

  • Today’s marketplace highly suggests that the majority of retailers and VMs are not marketing to the right consumer. 
  • What we think will not appeal to them is exactly what they are looking for.
  • This applies to VM. Your new customers do not necessarily appreciate a well-styled mannequin or promotional signage. 
  • They would be keener to know what their friends will think of them wearing that outfit, right there, right now.

Upgrade in Technical terms: 

  • Technology has got to be the biggest game-changer for retail as well as VM is a new possibility nowadays. 
  • Window displays, mannequins, bust forms, entrance WOW zones, color coordination are just a few VM tools.
  • Take Zara for example. Key Zara stores around the world have ditched their traditional window displays in spring this year in favor of a digital fashion show. What seemed like a blank window space with the words ‘Shop The Look’ was indeed a “live” fashion presentation when viewed over a smartphone. Hot spots within these stores also give the chance for international well-known models to parade literally in front of you, on your smartphone of course.
  • Technology is ruthlessly altering the way VMs work and how stores are laid out. 
  • Retailers must look forward and be ready for more such inventions and innovations to stay ahead and more critically, stay relevant.

Elevate the Experience:

Let’s use Gucci as an example again, The Italian fashion powerhouse opened a one-of-kind show store at Wooster Street in Soho, New York earlier this year. The primary intention is not to transact, but to deliver the Gucci Experience. It’s no doubt that a lot of visual merchandising has gone into it.

Further to support vocal for local – we should get engaged with local suppliers and manufacturers. We should partner with the local vendors to fulfill our business requirements along with educating and developing them to achieve fast, cost-effective and best quality output.

We retailers should deal with the pandemic over pan India by taking good care of customer health concerns while following all desired safety measures which are boosting customer’s confidence and it will also help in getting footfall back from their loyal consumers.

Our objective should be to resume business operation in full swing while maintaining the safety of the staff and customers at top priority. Also, adhere to the government norms and policy in the future.

                                           “Looking Future into Reality”

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