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The importance of visual merchandising – Part 1

In considering the importance of visual merchandising on retail businesses the single and most important reason is to engage and inspire shoppers, to encourage them to buy more of the products you want them to, increasing your sales, margin and return on space – after all, you are running a business! That engagement process of course starts even before they have set foot in your store… This article is part 1 of a 2 part feature. Part 2 will explain what what can be done to make a difference, for maximum impact and minimum investment.

Written By:
Kelly Molson
Category:
Insight
  • 12/11/2011
  • 5 Mins to Read
  • By: Kelly Molson
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1. Avoid overwhelming / confusing the customer
2. Make sure your ideal customers can feel at ease, to linger longer
3. Make sure customers can find products in store, and that they have the information they need to buy with confidence

Why is visual merchandising important?

Clare says: The single and most important reason is to engage and inspire shoppers…

In considering the importance of visual merchandising on retail businesses the single and most important reason is to engage and inspire shoppers, to encourage them to buy more of the products you want them to, increasing your sales, margin and return on space – after all, you are running a business! That engagement process of course starts even before they have set foot in your store…

 

Written By:
Kelly Molson
Managing Director

Kelly Says: First impressions count…

The exterior of your premises should be instantly appealing with clear, consistent branding applied to your signage. The entrance reflects the personality of your store and must entice the passer by to enter.

Creative and inventive window display…

An excellent opportunity to bring more custom to your store. Customers have only a few seconds to view and be attracted by your displays so keep them simple, bold and uncluttered. Cluttered, stale, or badly organised displays, are liable to do the exact opposite and turn those potential customers away.

Ensure any special offers are clearly readable and not too big / small, bearing in mind the demographic of your target audience. If your window space is limited try using bright colours and lighting to draw the eye, maybe even motion. Change the displays frequently based on how often your customers visit the store. A fantastic but dated display could do more harm than good.

Seasonal displays are a perfect opportunity…

Turn every browser into a customer. Use every opportunity that you can buy a card for – think Mothers day, Fathers day, Easter, Halloween, Christmas etc… I can remember my Mum taking me to Selfridges every Christmas just to see their displays! Could you make your store the one to visit?

3 key areas to be aware of in your visual merchandising approach

1. Avoid overwhelming / confusing the customer – Clare says…

It is very easy to be attracted to new product opportunities and be constantly adding to the range / choice you offer. The issue is that what can happen is that the sales you are achieving are simply shared between more SKUs, making your business more complex and putting you at risk of carrying excess stock.

Range proliferation can strangle a business from a cash flow perspective, so getting the balance right is critical. Too little choice will put customers off, too much will confuse them.

Ideally you should analyse your retail space to understand what the maximum number of products you can present at any given time is. Then be ruthless. Every product is costing you money both to stock and also it occupies your high cost retail real estate – if it hasn’t earned the right to be there, and it isn’t a product typically connected to the purchase of a high margin line (therefore earning it’s right by virtue of a related sale) then get rid of it – make way for a product that will earn you some money! Remember – focus on your return on space…

Customers have only a few seconds to view and be attracted by your displays so keep them simple, bold and uncluttered.

…Avoid overwhelming / confusing the customer – Kelly says…

It’s important your store is inviting and uncluttered. There’s nothing worse than walking into a messy store and feeling totally lost and overwhelmed with the amount of stuff in your line of sight! It will make potential customers walk out, trust me, I’ve done this myself.

Try to reference the layout by colour within a product category to ease the shopper’s identification of products they need or matching products. Take a leaf out of the online/e-commerce store design and display products with other products that they work well/look good with.

2. Make sure your ideal customers can feel at ease, to linger longer: Clare says…

Once you’ve got the potential customer in the store and have presented a beautiful, profitable range, you need to retain them for as long as possible – typically the longer they stay, the more they will spend…

…Make sure your ideal customers can feel at ease, to linger longer: Kelly says…

If you make your customers feel at ease, they will linger longer. Music, lighting, colours etc can all have a huge effect on the stress levels of the shopper. How many times have you left a store because it was too bright or the music too loud?

Try appealing to all 5 senses sympathetically and be aware that the demographic of your target market will feel different in different atmospheres.

For example:

  • Sight: Use lighting to change the mood of the store and to highlight products on offer.
  • Hearing: Music in stores has a huge effect on our stress levels. You may assume a toy store would play children’s songs or nursery rhymes? In fact the parents will feel a lot less stressed if the music is something softer, possibly classical.
  • Touch: Allow clients to handle or test the products. This encourages conversation and rapport with your clients.
  • Smell: Certain fragrances are calming such as Vanilla or Lavender or Citrus to uplift. Try using seasonal fragrances to evoke a sense of magic, cinnamon around Christmas time.
  • Taste: Not always possible but if you can offer free tasters they are a sure fire way of selling more product. Last Christmas Eve I queued up for our turkey in the local farm shop. They had a plateful of sausages for us to try while we waited.  Guess what else I bought before I left?

3. Make sure customers can find products in store, and that they have the information they need to buy with confidence: Kelly says…

Your in store signage must be clear and concise. Too many signs will act like a hundred shouting voices, not enough and your customer won’t know where to go.

Keep it simple and in line with your existing store branding. Use fonts and colours that are easily readable from a distance, avoid script or fussy, ornate styles.

Products need to be presented in a way that the customer can understand exactly what they do and how they help them. This is where good Point of Sale and freestanding merchandise displays really come in to play.

Point of sale (POS) or checkout is the location where a transaction occurs. Use this area to display new products, special offers or “no brainer” purchases, for example lip balms, pens, small handbag sized items.

You can be really creative with these displays. Keep them simple and bold. There are hundreds of off the shelf display products you can purchase usually in plastic or cardboard.

Be creative with the products themselves. For example, if you were selling say paper napkins, create origami animals from them – instantly more appealing.

If you have own brand products invest in working with a design agency that specialises in packaging design so that your product appeals exactly to your target customer. The right packaging design can make or break a product, especially if it’s new to the market or has huge competition. A good brand and packaging designer will draw out the brand story and encapsulate that into the design, giving your product maximum shelf appeal.

The right packaging design can make or break a product, especially if it’s new to the market or has huge competition.

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