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Blog Posted in avatar   Estelle Page's Blog

The art of visual merchandising: 8 indispensible tips to make the most of your store

By Estelle Page
Posted Apr 23, 2013 in Business
It’s an oft-quoted phrase amongst high street shop owners that a little bit of “retail detail” goes a long way. That’s certainly the case when it comes to visual merchandising. The smallest things can make a difference; shoppers make a lot of their impulsive buying decisions based on what they see, and what they see has to grab them... irretrievably, startlingly, and immediately.
Visual merchandising is an art form in itself, and in the right hands it can make that all-important difference between customer or no customer, profit or loss. True, it’s only one component of the whole shopping experience, but its arguably the most influential one.
Here are a few indispensable ideas when it comes to making your shop’s displays stand out from the rest and creating that all-important wow factor.
Window Display
Window displays are perhaps the most obvious yet still one of the most impactful ways of getting shoppers through the door. After all, it’s the luring finger enticing them into a treasure trove of the heavenly delights beyond. A teaser to the treats that will inevitably follow.
A good window display should get your eyes popping and your synapses fizzing. The urge to dash through the door should be uncontrollable. In essence, a good window display should set a mood – for an event, a sale, or a general ‘feel’ of what the shop’s about. And as well as the ‘feel’, perhaps you could create a theme: fun, family, excitement, alternative, romance.
Visual Clues
Visual clues are another key way to entice bargain-hungry shoppers to particular areas of the store. It could be as simple as having signs indicating various other departments as a way of whetting the customers’ appetites.
21st Century Stimulation
We’re in the digital age, so it would be foolish not to take advantage of the myriad of multi-media opportunities available. Electronic signs, printed materials, and interactive installations all excite the senses and stimulate the shoppers to add a digital, slightly funky contemporary twist to proceedings. We may be 'grown ups' but we're still children inside and can't resist flashing lights and twinkly things!
Apple makes great use of this high-tech approach to visual merchandising - as well as creating a shopping sensation that is more interactive and sensory, which brings me onto my next point...
A Sensual Experience
Shopping should be an experience that excites and arouses all the senses, so why not take advantage of the sensory possibilities of all the departments in the shop to create something unique and unforgettable.
For example, think about how the store sounds, smells and even feels, the various sections of the store and how you can manipulate the products and environment to gain the maximum impact. Consider the messages you’re giving out through music, aromas, and displays. Supermarkets often use this to great effect - the citrus aroma of oranges in the fruit department is sure to increase sales not just of oranges, but anything associated with that summery, tropical notion like mangoes and dragon-fruit!
The combination of all these elements can create something stimulating to the shopper. Make it an emotional and sensory experience as well as a physical one.
Rule of 3
There’s a general practise and ethos in the retail tradition known as the ‘Rule of 3’. For example, if you’re creating a display, try to work in a set of three: arrange products by height so you have tall, taller, tallest or fat, fatter, fattest. Cash-savvy shoppers have eagle eyes when it comes to sniffing out a bargain, so arranging products by good, better and best (value) is a practise that has passed down through retail shopping lore with significant levels of success.
Change The Displays
Contemporary shoppers are canny folk, so you’ve got to do everything possible to surprise and entice them. For first time shoppers, you’ve got to galvanise and excite them. For regular customers, you’ve got to galvanise them in a fresh and original way every time they visit. Changing the shop displays is a guaranteed way of doing this. Keep the first-timers and the old guard simultaneously happy (and spending). It’s a win-win.
Eye Level Is Buy Level
Like “retail detail”, “eye level is buy level” is a rather cringe-inducing and corny phrase – but it works! Shoppers like to feel and touch things and prefer items to be within arms’ length, so make sure your best products are easily accessible to create a more tactile experience for the shopper.
Lighting is one of the most basic but crucial aspect of the shopping experience. Lighting can bring a row of products to life and shelf lighting can illuminate an otherwise dull display. Accent lighting and spotlights are very effective ways of creating an extra dynamic of visual interest, encouraging impulse buys and, more importantly, cash in the till.
It’s easy to underestimate the importance of good visual merchandising; in fact, as customers we’re not even fully aware of it because it acts on an almost subconscious and psychological level. But we shouldn’t underestimate the effect it has on our everyday shopping sojourns.
Have you got any other good visual merchandising ideas?

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