The first impression of a store is critical. When it comes to retail, that means having the best visual representation of your products at all times. This can be done with a practical visual merchandising strategy.
Designing a store is the first step in establishing a connection with customers. Learning and leveraging design techniques can help you transform your storefront into an aesthetic experience that will attract new shoppers.
What Is Visual Merchandising?
Visual merchandising is a practice wherein merchandisers create product displays and floor plans to showcase products and maximize sales. Merchandise will be grouped, and signage will be used to communicate the features of each product.
Large companies have merchandisers who work closely with the retail marketing teams to create displays that fit company guidelines. On the other hand, independent retailers can do more experimenting and are not bound by brand image.
Purpose of Visual Merchandising
Merchandisers are responsible for making a store appealing to customers and helping them find what they want. They also help organize the products so that it’s easier for people to find exactly what they need.
Visual Merchandising Tips and Techniques
You don’t have to spend too much money on creating product displays. Just follow these ten tips and techniques:
1. Understand your target customer’s psychographics
The first step to effective visual merchandising is understanding your target customer. Don’t just take demographics into account; look at psychographics and lifestyle information.
Analyzing your customers’ order history is an excellent way to determine what motivates them.
2. Get inspired
In today’s modern world, there are endless sources of inspiration for retailers. The internet has all sorts of sites that show retail stores with the most exciting displays to get your creative juices flowing.
- Smart Retailer
- Design Retail Online
3. Appeal to the five senses
Though it is tempting to focus on the visual appeal of your product display, don’t neglect other senses.
The best way to engage with customers in a retail store is through sensory branding. Here are some ways you can do this:
The music you play in your store can significantly affect how customers behave. Depending, if they are more likely to shop leisurely or quickly, then soft and mellow tunes will work best for them.
Keep in mind that customers want to feel and touch the product before buying it.
A retailer that leverages touch is Apple. They feature their products on open displays and encourage customers to use them by having the product ready, which fosters a sense of ownership over it when they are done using it.
Have you heard of the new marketing technique, scent marketing? Many companies have used it to their advantage (e.g., Samsung, Sony, and Verizon).
A good scent can go a long way to attracting more customers because the smell is transmitted quickly to their brains. The amygdala controls emotions and memory, so if someone smells something they like, it will be registered as a positive memory that makes them feel good.
If your business sells consumables, giving customers the ability to sample products before buying is like letting them try on clothes. It’s a good practice.
Merchandisers need to control where and what a customer looks at in-store. They can do this by using colors that have psychological triggers, or they could use lighting, balance symmetry contrast, etc.
4. Use design theory to build your displays
Creating a design for your displays is essential for designing the store and can make or break how customers experience it. Learning some critical design theory will help you create eye-catching, cohesive displays that go with your in-store décor.
The retail industry is a competition for sales per square foot. It might seem counterintuitive, but more space doesn’t necessarily equal better profits. If your store design is too cluttered or messy, it will drive customers away.
There are four design theories that you should keep in mind:
It is essential to have balance in your store. You can achieve this by having symmetry or asymmetry within the displays.
Symmetrical displays are uniform, while asymmetrical designs use items of different weights. Symmetry can help add consistency and order to your store, but sometimes it’s more interesting to have an asymmetric design with a focal point.
Having contrast in your store will help guide customers to certain products. A focal point within displays can bring attention to critical items or sections of the store.
Colors can be a big help when it comes to displaying design. For example, using black and white colors or contrasting colors will provide the best results.
When designing your store, don’t be afraid to leave some areas blank. Negative space is just as crucial for a successful design as anything else.
If you use white space correctly, it can help your product stand out. White space is a way to reduce clutter and provide more room for the products on display.
The principle of visual merchandising is the idea that you should design your store to have a clear and easy-to-follow flow from one area to another. This means applying it in every part of your retail location, including windows displays and point of sale.
Apple has done an excellent job of creating recognizable stores around the world. They have managed to make in-store experiences feel special.
Apple is also well known for its minimalist displays. These modern and beautiful designs keep customers focused on what they want to buy without any distractions.
Ultimately, cohesion is the overarching element that you need in any store. Creating unity amongst all your displays and design will make it easier for clients to understand what kind of products they are looking at when visiting your store and help you stay on brand.
Make sure all the elements used throughout your store match with one another – whether or not something fits does not matter if it helps create a cohesive atmosphere.
5. Be bold
The goal is to create product displays that get customers excited about your products. To do this, be creative with how you display them, so they are noticeable and attractive.
Outdoor Voices, an athleisure apparel company that opened up a store in New England, went bold with its design. The walls are bright, and contrasting colors line the windows. Even better? There’s even a mannequin running outside!
6. Playoff your store’s theme
A window display is an integral part of your store design, but it needs to match the rest of your decor.
One example of a company that is doing this well, is Saturdays NYC. Their store in Melbourne, Australia, puts what makes them unique on full display.
7. Guide customers through your store
Ikea has become a worldwide example of leading customers through its stores. The store is set up in a maze, with products grouped by living space and leading shoppers on an adventure throughout all aspects of home decor.
IKEA has a layout that is more like an obstacle course than anything else. They put the impulse buys at your eye level, and they’re everywhere, so you can’t see what’s coming next. And if you do happen to catch it on time, then their sense of ownership over the products makes them want to take it home even more.
When building a store, IKEA offers excellent examples of grouping similar products together. It’s also helpful for customers because they can find the product that best suits their needs and see other related items.
8. Add attractive signage
You can use creative signage to the group and categorize your products, display promotions clearly, and tell customers how the product is made.
Allbirds does a great job of using signage to help customers find what they are looking for quickly. They make the store look cool too.
9. Group products commonly bought together
Using the point of sale software, you can track the most popular products and arrange your displays accordingly. This will help increase the in-store experience for customers.
Cross-merchandising is a great way to increase your customers’ average basket size. By conveniently placing products that go well together, you make their shopping journey much more accessible and give them ideas they might not have thought of before.
To have a seamless shopping experience, make sure that your clothes are displayed in an orderly fashion. This will reduce the time it takes for customers to find what they need and get out of there.
10. Routinely refresh your product displays
Every time you get new, noteworthy inventory or transition from one season to another, it’s essential that your store is updated. This includes updating the store’s design and making sure all displays are up-to-date.
Bob Phibbs, a leading expert in brick-and-mortar retail, suggests that merchants update their product displays every month.
The last thing you want is to have a store that’s no longer relevant in the eyes of your customers. Keep up with trends and adapt quickly by making sure when designing, for example, a retail space that it can be changed over time.
Budget design ideas
There are many ways to make your store look better, but it is not always easy for everyone. Here are some ideas that can help you improve the appearance of your retail space without spending too much money.
Do a deep clean
One of the most overlooked parts of customer service is ensuring that your building looks clean. One-half of customers have avoided a business because it looked dirty from the outside, meaning you need to do more than wash windows every other week.
Adjust your lighting
Lighting is essential to highlight your products, so it’s also mentioned here.
Light bulbs may give off a brownish color with age rather than the crisp white-yellow. Consumers can more easily assess quality and colors in bright lights; strip malls are always brightly lit.
Store owners often overlook lighting, but it can be a powerful tool to set the mood and draw attention. Edison lights, uplighting, spotlighting, and track lighting are all different ways of drawing people’s eyes where you want them.
Explore non-traditional merchandise displays
To differentiate your products from others, try new ways of displaying them. For example, you could use oak rum barrels as shelves or show clothes around an old bicycle.
If you’re looking for retail fixtures and paraphernalia, be creative. Consider how to reuse materials that are not a perfect fit the first time around.
Create simple speed bumps
In retail, slow your customers down by strategically placing tables and racks throughout the store. It is a great way to break up the monotony of long aisleways. Design each table with a theme in mind for both regulars and new visitors.
Design a power wall
The power wall is traditionally located to the customer’s right and should be used for displaying your best products. You can use it to highlight popular items or new styles.
Final Thoughts on Visual Merchandising
Your store’s look will depend on your products and what you want to communicate with customers.
The result should be authentic for your brand.