13 Visual Merchandising Tips for Maximum Impact

13 Visual Merchandising Tips for Maximum Impact

Merchandising a retail business is an effective way to create an engaging environment. In the absence of merchandising, a retail business is a warehouse or storeroom – stacked boxes, poor lighting and zero purchasing cues.

As a result, there are a number of key strategies a retailer can incorporate into their business to positively impact sales. Here are 13 visual merchandising tips for maximum impact that are relatively easy to implement.

1. Build a Story

The most important aspects of displaying merchandise in store are how the products are displayed. For starters, place products together that have a common theme. Building a display with products that have nothing in common result in poor aesthetics, creates a confused message and consequently dilutes the impact.

Don’t draw too long a bow in what the common theme may be. A story should be one that is easy to follow. For example, placing fry pans and sauce pans with platters and wine glasses will have lesser impact than placing the cookware with kitchen utensils.

Cross promoting categories can increase sales if the story flows. Tents could be merchandised with sleeping bags, camp chairs, eskies, tarpaulins etc. However, there would be no relevance if running shoes were used to merchandise a lawn mower.

2. Tease the Consumer

If new season product has arrived and you have limited room in the window or shopfront, there is no need to put one of everything out. Holding back pieces from the window display allows discovery in store. Shoppers love discovering, so holding pieces from a range back for the in store display creates a better opportunity for a customer to reward themselves with discovery once their interest has been piqued.

Once this pattern is established, customers will expect there to be an expanded range in store and enter with that expectation.

3. Signage

Signage can be a silent sales person. Use it to explain the reason for the display. As a visual merchandising tool, it is probably the most common and easiest to implement.

“New Season”, “Clearance”, “Hot Price”, “Brand Name” – are all messages that can be easily conveyed.

As part of the Tease strategy, you can also plant the seed with signage – “More in store”.

Signage can help clarify ambiguity and may also answer a customer’s question when sales staff are unable to immediately serve them. It can also communicate greater sales opportunities through quantity purchase discounts, environmental or charitable cause. These are all messages that can engage a customer emotionally.

Signs shouldn’t be bigger than the display. If individual ticketing is being used, then the size of the sign should be commensurate with the size of the product – a smaller sign on a smaller product. A large sign on a small product hides it and therefore becomes counterproductive.

Signs can also be used to engage. Posing a question, like “What’s missing?” or thought provoking statements like “Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself” can initiate engagement.

4. Lighting

Have you ever been in a store when some of the lights haven’t been turned on? Alternatively, a store where lights are flickering or multiple globes are out?

There are multiple conclusions customers will draw when this occurs and honestly, none of them are positive.

Lighting allows a product to be displayed at its best and ensures the customer there is nothing to hide. Where possible, displays should be immediately below down lights or have angled lighting shining directly at them. Shadows distract from the display as do flickering lights or dead globes.

5. Hierarchies or Pyramids

This simple strategy relates to the shape of a display. Aesthetically, it is easier on the eye of the consumer to relate to when larger products form the base of a display with a gradual decrease in product size as the display increase in height. If products are of a similar size, the use of bridges and props to raise them are a great tool to distinguish items and allow the eye to register a variety of items on display. The pyramid should be wider at the base and get progressively narrower towards the top.

Building smaller pyramids inside a large pyramid can create a compelling visual effect.

6. Timeframe

Displays should be changed every two to four weeks.

On average, consumers go grocery shopping between 1.6 and 3 times a week in shopping centres. If they were to visit the same stores on every occasion for two weeks, they could be entering a store between 3 and 6 times. Hence in a 2 week period, they may see the same displays 6 times or more. It is hypothetical, but possible.

Leaving displays for longer than 4 weeks will result in store blindness where consumers look straight through the product on display and overlook minor changes that may have taken place in store. Changing displays every 2 to 4 weeks ensures a fresh look and gives stores the opportunity to engage with consumers more regularly.

Failure to change displays, whether the product has sold or not will inevitably cause a dip in sales. If a product hasn’t worked, it may simply be a case of moving the product on rather than have it take up valuable floor space.

7. Less is More

Too often you see a window or floor display so overloaded with product that it becomes difficult to work out the message. More so, it looks more like a storeroom than a showroom.

As a result, windows and displays need to be crafted so the relevant product is given every opportunity to appeal to the consumer. The retail adage of “stack’em high and watch them fly” may have merit on low priced clearance items. However if it is new season or a premium product, then it needs to be displayed in an environment that is not too busy for it to shine.

For example, when a new Jennifer Lopez fragrance is launched, you would display the product on its own with some accessory products, all branded the same. If KKW by Kim Kardashian, Crush by Rhianna or Curious by Britney were placed alongside J-Lo’s fragrance, it would not allow the J-Lo brand to maximise the halo effect that comes with a new premium product nor would it maximise the opportunity to sell the other fragrances. Grouping them altogether becomes confusing to the consumer and often when there is confusion or too much choice, they simply won’t make a decision to purchase anything.

Less is more.

8. Plan

It may seem obvious however it is amazing how many retailers don’t have a plan when they start merchandising a window or floor display. It always surprises me when you look at a window display that is disjointed by one or two products having no relativity to the other products on display.

It is like they have finished the display and feel there is more space so it needs to be filled.

Thought needs to go into these ‘fillers’. Otherwise the impact of the display is diluted. Just because it is the same colour or even the same brand, doesn’t mean it belongs to the story.

This is another reason why clearance product shouldn’t be stacked in the window. The message becomes distorted.

Once the range is identified, it is imperative to measure the space or count the shelves to ascertain that there is adequate space, not just for the product but the visual merchandising to be used to bring it to life.

9. Theatre

The future of bricks and mortar retail relies on the in-store experience. The creative environment within the store includes music, décor, lighting, interactive displays and of course customer service. All of these components add to the customer experience.

Athlete’s Foot does an amazing job in-store with their Myfit experience. This experience uses computerised pressure mapping & motion analysis, combined with sales staff knowledge to ensure the shoes you need are matched to your foot size and gait.

Similarly, JB Hi-fi hit you with an abundance of neurological triggers. Sound, signage, lighting and a décor that suggests everything is inexpensive. Further, TVs are usually programmed to sport or stunning geographical imagery on loop that engage you.

In store recently, Typo had a retro arcade machine with games from the 1980s. Despite having to explain to my kids what it was, they were engaged.

All of these components bring theatre into the merchandising arena. All are designed to capture your senses and engage you. Only when you are engaged will you make a conscious decision to stay. The longer you stay the more likely it is that a purchase will be made.

When looking at the windows of Dolce and Gabbana, they are more about theatre than merchandise. This may have more to do with brand recognition though, but it is engaging all the same.

Introducing interactive visual merchandising will enhance the experience in store and will be a significant component in the future of in-store visual merchandising. Consider people themselves using your interactive visual merchandising and then sharing it to Instagram, Facebook etc. It is advertising with minimal cost.

10. Accessorise

It is one thing to place merchandise in displays, however nothing engages consumers more so than when accessories are added to displays. Accessorising displays enhances relatability. For example, creating a window display for running shoes can be enhanced by a mannequin wearing the running shoes while dressed in sports clothes.

Wine glasses could benefit from the presence of a wine bottle, ice bucket , cheese board or wine opener.

Engagement is key and relativity delivers this.

11. Unique Products

When creating a window display, it would be wise to consider products that are unique. After saying build a story earlier, you may be asking how do we build a story that is unique without diluting the display?

Nothing captures the attention of passing traffic more than an elephant in the room. Some examples include oversized products, vintage products or signage & neon lighting.

During my days in retail I spent endless hours searching for the product that would stop consumer traffic. Some of the most successful products I ranged were those that had little relativity to the category I specialised in.

For every business it will be different; however it pays to keep in an open mind when undergoing a search for unique products.

The Luminous Jellyfish Tank for example, appealed to all ages. I had one lady purchase 3: one for her grandchildren, one for her daughter and one for herself.

12. Recycle / Reuse

When searching for visual merchandising, it is beneficial to look for tools that have multi-application qualities. For example, a beach towel could equally be used to merchandise holiday or summer themes. An artificial palm tree can be used to support holiday, relaxation or entertaining themes.

13. Colour

Nothing draws attention more than colour. From workers wearing high visibility safety shirts to flowers in spring, colour by its nature will captures the eye of passing traffic. As a result, including colour in your window whether the merchandise itself, accessories or visual merchandising tools, colour will add another dynamic to attract consumers and engage them.

Colour will be particularly important when new product or new season products are notably dull. The dull ochres are unlikely to grab attention, as a result adding colour will improve relatability.

Visual merchandising provides an integral component in engaging consumers. Without it, showrooms become storerooms.  While visual merchandising is restricted only by one’s imagination, the future of visual merchandising is likely to evolve with experiential qualities.  Building themes with colour or with interactive qualities and appropriate lighting and signage will help deliver theatre that consumers cannot get from internet shopping.

With social media playing such a considerable role in everyday life today, visual merchandising will continue to evolve towards an interactive dynamic. With so many social media users driven to share their experiences online, it will be imperative that it is considered as part of the visual merchandising strategy in the future.

If you have any questions or if you have any visual merchandising tips of your own that you would like to share, feel free to leave a comment below and I will respond within 24 hours.

Note: Whilst any links to Amazon in this article reflect my experience relative to a product, as an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases through this website from Amazon.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather